In addition to slightly increasing the JobSeeker amount in a press conference on Tuesday, the government has announced a fucked new addition to mutual obligation requirements that is basically a big “fuck you” to anyone who is reliant on welfare payments.
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash today announced a new helpline for employers to call you out if you turn down a job. To put it simply, it’s a dob-in line designed to fuck over some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
“You often hear, though, employers saying, “Joe applied for a job. He was qualified for the job”, or she, “and they said no.” What we will be doing for employers is introducing an employer reporting line,” Cash said in a press conference.
“So that if someone does apply for a job, they’re offered the job and they’re qualified for the job but they say no, the employer will now be able to contact my department and report that person as failing to accept suitable employment. This will then mean that my department can follow up with that person or alternatively, jobactive can follow up with that person to ascertain exactly why they said no to a suitable job.”
“In the event that they do not have a valid reason, they will be breached — reason, they will be breached for that.”
Now, I am all for getting people back into jobs and minimising the amount of Australians who are reliant on welfare payments, but this new reporting line continues to push the government’s false narrative that most people on JobSeeker don’t *want* to work.
And that simply isn’t true.
A vast majority of Australians on the JobSeeker payment *want* to work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every job that they’re qualified for on paper is the right fit for them.
Make no mistake, I’m not asserting that the government should foot the bill for peoples’ livelihoods until they find the job of their dreams. But – generally speaking – if a person seeking welfare payments is turning down a job, it means that there was a valid reason for it.
Whether it’s questionable working conditions or feeling unsafe around your boss (which is an especially present concern for young women), there are some extremely valid reasons why you might turn down a job.
This new helpline further increases the power imbalance between employer and employee, and essentially greenlights employers to exploit workers who are fearful of their payments being cut off.
This could be sexual harassment, illegal working conditions or underpayment, all of which are far bigger issues than the few people who are trying to rort the welfare system.
Naturally, it didn’t take long after Cash’s announcement for social media users to share their own stories.
I once turned down a job offer because the boss was an absolute creep during my four-hour unpaid trial shift at his cafe that used flavoured syrups + ice instead of fruit in the "fruit smoothies".
You reckon that would that be a "valid reason"? https://t.co/DNtdIfeB5q
— Rae Johnston (@raejohnston) February 23, 2021
When I was unemployed at 18, I was on my way to a job interview when I received a frantic phone call telling me the dude had been using the advertised “job” to sexually blackmail teenage girls.
— Van Badham (@vanbadham) February 23, 2021
Siri: How can I railroad people into fruit picking work? https://t.co/mnQ6h2QC5O
— Jon Brooks (@TheJonBrooks) February 23, 2021
They were also quick to point out how utterly ridiculous the new hotline is.
Australia has a larrikin spirit, we hate authority etc etc. Meanwhile, a snitch line because we love to dob on low income people. https://t.co/Vq5vR2zwl8
— Ariel Bogle (@arielbogle) February 23, 2021
Tell me you hate the poor, WITHOUT telling me you hate the poor. https://t.co/zPVDZnUPQt
— Joshua Wells (@joshuawells93) February 23, 2021
Rather than further victimising poor people for simply trying to get jobs that don’t exploit them, maybe the government – and Michaelia Cash personally – should look into the businesses that are so godawful to work for that people would rather live on half the minimum wage.
Michaelia Cash, and the entire Morrison Government simply must do better.