In Australia, between now and September, the income support schemes will end or be severely cut, along with the moratorium on eviction of tenants and banks’ deferral of mortgage repayments.
Unemployment has already nearly trebled to 14.8%, and around 9.7% of the workforce want more hours. When the JobKeeper scheme [something like furlough] ends in September, more workers could get the sack.
Repossessions and evictions are likely, along with a home price and construction slump. A workers’ program needs to take up the immediate issue of housing along the lines of “No evictions, no foreclosures, the banks can pay, they are rich, the debtors are not.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions [ACTU] and employers have accepted a government invitation to “sit down together” to work on recovery measures. But there’s no preparing for action, and these talks will not solve problems of livelihoods.
A new campaign called Living Incomes For Everyone (LIFE) has been set up on the initiative of a small group of long time labour movement left activists. It focuses on income support. The demands are for keeping the doubled rate of unemployment benefit (introduced at the start of the lockdown, but due to end in September), extending the benefit to everyone who was left out, and for social security with dignity.
By the time of the official launch of the LIFE campaign on 21 July, over 70 labour movement organisations had endorsed the demands. This includes several regional labour councils, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, retired unionists and pensioner groups, and other groups representing recipients of income support.
The ACTU has started a petition demanding to #Keeptherate of both JobSeeker and JobKeeper, which should boost the confidence of living-income campaigners.
• Abridged from here.