Author Archives: AUWU

Submit to the Cashless Welfare Senate Inquiry

Are you opposed to cashless welfare?

If so, the AUWU strongly encourages you to write a letter saying so to your local member and to the Senate Inquiry into the INDUE welfare card.

Unfortunately, you don’t have much time. The Senate submissions will be closing on September 29 and the vote will be going to the Senate after the inquiry finalises its report on 13 November. We need to put maximum pressure on politicians to vote down the INDUE card.

It’s easier than you think – your letter should be very brief (four pages maximum) and briefly detail some of your concerns about the program.

Here’s a quick four step guide:

Step One: Why Are You Opposed to the Card

Some questions to consider if you have not been on the card:

● How do you see people spending cash and managing their money?
● What goods or services (other than the card’s targets, alcohol & gambling) does/would the card prevent people you work with from accessing?
● Do you think the card has/will have unintended consequences for people and the community?

Some questions to consider if you have been on the card:

● What were/are some of the things you spend cash on?
● Where did/do you spend cash?
● Does/would not having cash effect your budget?
● Does/would not having cash change where you shop?
● What goods or services (other than the card’s targets, alcohol & gambling) does/would the card prevent you from accessing?
● Do you think the card has/will have unintended consequences for people and the community?
● Can you think of any better solutions to problems like addiction than the card?
● How does the card make you feel?

See below for some more information.

Step Two: Introduce Yourself

Politicians needs to know what qualifies you to advise them on the INDUE card and who you are.

For the purposes of the Senate Inquiry you need to  tell them how you came to have your knowledge on the card.You also need to directly mention the bill they’re reporting on.

If you’re not sure how to do that it’s okay to copy this sentence below and then finish it by adding relevant detail.

I have knowledge of/information about/familiarity with the Cashless Debit Card  that the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 would extend because  I…

or… As a member of ____________, I have grave concerns about the likely impact of the  Cashless Debit Card that the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017  would extend, because…

For the purposes of writing to your local MP you need to demonstrate who you are and where your are based. Here is a good sample:

 

“To the Minister / Shadow Minister for Parliament,

My name is _____  and I am based in ____. I am deeply concerned about the Cashless Welfare Card and the legislation currently before the Senate to expand the program.

Even though there have been very negative reports about the effect the card has had on trial communities, the Government seems to be ignoring the people on this issue and increasing the trials in other areas…”

Step Three: Put It All Together

Politicians like it when each different point you make has a heading. In your letter, try to group together all your similar points in a list and put that under a heading.

Some heading examples include:

  •  “good things about cash”
  • “stuff I can’t do on the card”
  • “things I worry about”
  • “ideas I have”
  • “how I feel”
  • “things I’ve seen”
  • “These are some things I’ve noticed in the community since the Cashless Card was introduced”

You are now ready to send it off.

Step Four: Submit

Contacting your local MP or other politician:

To find your local MP’s email or Minster go here.

Submit to Senate Inquiry: 

Go the the Senate Inquiry page for the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 here and click upload submission. You will need to make an account on My Parliament before you can submit.

Send on your letter to the AUWIU

Please forward your letter onto the AUWU at contact@unemployedworkersunion.com for our record

More Info

Why The Cashless Welfare Card is Bad for Business and for Communities:

 

 

  • The card is produced by the Australian company INDUE, to use it the business owner needs to enter into a business agreement with INDUE which may not benefit the business.

 

  • Small business in regional and rural areas do not necesssarily use Eftpos machines. The cost of small business is climbing, particularly in relation to utilities, the books are getting tighter and every cent counts. There is currently no way for small business owners to quantify how much of their takings is supplied through welfare recipient cash transactions, making a feasibility assessment of wether or not to invest in an eftpos terminal and go into an agreement with INDUE impossible.

 

  • The cashless card is geared towards bigger business such as Coles and Woolies, where shopper anonominity is encouraged, particularly with the installation of Cashier Terminals where no human contact is necessary for a transaction to take place. This means that people who feel stigmatised by the cashless welfare card may choose to stop shopping with small businesses.

 

 

The many draw backs of the cashless card include:

 

  1. The app designed for people to check their account on their smartphone is reported to be glitchy. In areas with poor internet reception the app is a useless utility.

 

  1. The INDUE card is very different from a bankcard. It operates as a credit card in the sense that funds are not the property of the recipient, so a recipient has no claim to interest accrued on funds over time. In the case of persons becoming ill and spending a period of time in hospital, (elderly, chronically ill and mental health patients who are unable to access the Disability Support Pension) this can amount to regular periods of many months. Interest accrued on funds becomes a significant revenue stream for the company INDUE who have full ownership of accrued interest across millions of Newstart recipients. In other words INDUE gets to keep the sum total of all your small change, the stuff that goes in the jar above the fridge and comes in handy to pay the winter electricity bill with. This amounts to welfare spending contributing directly to the profit margins of big business, diminishing the growth of smaller local economy.

 

  1. The low amount of cash that can be accessed through compulsory income management is not enough to participate in alternate markets such as farmers markets, trash and treasures, local craft markets, alternate food and goods banks and many charity shops which deal exclusively in cash transactions. In regional and rural areas eggs, mulch and fresh vegetables can often be purchased from road side sales points and co-ops dealing only in cash, these healthy options for people on low incomes will be impossible to access with the cashless card.

 

  1. The small-economy becomes impossible under income management, how do you pay the babysitter with an INDUE card? How do give $50 to the bloke up the road who fixes your lawn mower or $20 to the boy who mows your lawn if you are unable to? How do you support your children and teenagers to participate in school fates and local excursions that require lunch money, pocket money and taxi money for an emergency such as having no safe option to get home from a late party? How do you teach your kids how to handle cash?

 

  1. Residents in Ceduna, one of the trial sites for the Cashless Welfare card have reported their mortgage payments have become more expensive due to added transaction fees.

 

  1. People cannot contribute to share house costs with a cashless card. How can you pay your landlord if they only accept cash?

 

  1. There are reports that people on income management are begging, are buying food and then reselling it at lower prices to get access to cash so they cover costs like share-room rent, private studio and caravan rent, getting around town using alternate transport systems (throwing in some cash to help with petrol for a friend who gives them a lift somewhere etc) and providing pocket money for their kids, which effectively makes welfare recipients even poorer than they already are.

 

  1. Compulsory income management stigmatises people and separates them from mainstream society even further, disallowing social mobility and scapegoating poverty.

 

  1. Cheap shopping alternatives such as Aldi are excluded from participating in the scheme because there is no separation between the liquor store and the main store, thus preventing cheap goods being obtainable to people on tight budgets.

 

  1. AUWU have information that organised crime gangs are already strategising around how they can recruit a labour force to achieve criminal goals from the pool of unemployed on income management who need access to cash.

 

  1. The only people with access to cash in welfare demographics will be elderly pensioners and disability pensioners who will be made vulnerable targets for criminals.

 

  1. Cashless welfare, in a society where the welfare payments don’t lift people over the poverty line, forces people to use mainstream shopping outlets that are just too expensive for limited budgets, making emergency situations requiring cash impossible to manage.

 

  1. People in welfare demographics will not be able to “chip in” or help each other financially from fortnight to fortnight.

 

  1. INDUE are not a bank and cannot provide any of the privacy and security measures that banks provide. Our data will be open to organisations who collect data to profile and target consumers. The Government cannot guarantee our privacy because INDUE are not a Government organisation, regardless of assurances and agreements Government and INDUE come to. This lack of privacy is already an ongoing issue with Job Network Providers who are reported to be repeatedly breaching the privacy rights of their clients.

 

  1. There are reports of people manufacturing bootleg liquor because they can no longer by alcohol. The cashless card has already created a back yard market in liquor and gambling in exchange for resalable goods.

 

  1. The card will encourage black market labour hire because more people will accept cash work that pays below the minimum wage.

Tell Your Story, Learn about Your Rights and Fight Back!

To fight the government punitive approach to the unemployed, it is important that the voices of unemployed people are heard.
 
The AUWU is currently collecting stories from unemployed people about their experiences with job agencies with the aim of releasing a report next year exposing this broken and inhumane $11 billion system. With your permission, we will also be posting these stories on our website, social media and pitching stories to the media.
 
Please fill out this 5 minute survey below and join the fight against this punitive system.
 
If you would like to learn about your rights, the AUWU is rolling out a free advocacy course via correspondence later this month. Please RSVP for the course here
 
Once you have completed this short course (which takes roughly three days), you will be eligible to run the AUWUs advocacy services from home.

Tell Your Story!

To fight the government punitive approach to the unemployed, it is important that the voices of unemployed people are heard. The AUWU is currently collecting stories from unemployed people about their experiences with job agencies with the aim of releasing a report next year exposing this broken and inhumane system

Please fill out this 5 minute survey and join the fight against this punitive system.

#CallOutCash Campaign Launched

Last month, Minister Cash labelled the AUWU an “offensive” organisation “whose sole purpose appeared to be “keeping members out of gainful employment and encouraging them to shirk their responsibilities”.

Cash did not offer any proof of this. It appears she just wanted to bully us because we are unemployed people trying to stand up for ourselves.

Today we a hitting back with our #CallOutCash campaign.

As part of this campaign, we are asking all our members and supporters to #CallOutCash by filling out a short 2-minute survey about their experiences of unemployment. The answers will be collated and sent to Minister Cash and her parliamentary colleagues .

To complete the survey, click here.

Its time Minister Cash was held accountable for her bullying tactics.

Despite there being 17 job seekers competing for every job vacancy going by the official figures, Minister Cash still treats unemployed workers like we are the problem.

It is time we let Cash know that the Coalition government is the problem.

Why aren’t they creating more jobs? Why are they handing $10 billion of government money to private companies who fail to help unemployed workers? Why are they condemning unemployed workers to a life of poverty on a payment that is $380 per fortnight per fortnight below the poverty line?

Please share throughout your networks and lets send Minister Cash a clear message.

Bullied while suffering with cancer. Cut off while recovering from surgery

By Ann-Maria, AUWU Member

Ive been abused, harassed, cut off my payments because I missed an appointment i wasn’t informed of. I had a total hysterectomy in April this year. I had 2 severe infections and i caught bronchitis. Due to having cancer of the ovaries and cervix, and also due to surgery my immune system is very low which means i get a lot sicker for a lot longer. Ive also had 4 c-sections prior to all this so my healing and recovering is taking much longer.

I kept my job network fully informed. They were aware I had cancer and surgery. My surgery was on 18th April. The 1-2nd wk in may i received 7 letters in 7 days for the one appt. I told them AGAIN i was sick. I got abused yelled at n insulted with arrogance. I called jobs statewide head office asking for this to be sorted out n made a complaint. Or so i thought. I haven’t heard back from them. Now i apparently missed another appointment but when i went in there they told me I had the wrong day. They have cut my Centrelink payments.

Ive tried calling n calling n calling but i get no answer or nobody calls me back. If I lose my payments then ill lose EVERYTHING. My home, my furniture, my pets. Everything. I have been treated so badly that I’m scared to go into the office! Can u plz help me try to sort this as the stress is seriously affecting my mental n psychological state. I already suffer from ADHD, OCD, PTSD, severe mixed anxiety, severe depression and vasovagula syncope.

If i could work I WOULD IN A HEARTBEAT! Id do anything to stop this bullying! I cant handle it much longer. I was homeless last september. Ive worked so hard to build a beautiful home after everything I’ve been thru and if i lose it I WILL NOT cope. Im barely coping now. Please help me if u can. I beg you

A Broken Social Security Systems Leads To Bullying Workplaces – A First Hand Account

By an AUWU Member

Recently I resigned from my casual job at a regional council Gallery due to bullying and discrimination. It took me over a year to land this casual position and I was grateful for the small amount of work the Gallery drip fed me, which had me competing for hours with four other women and which hasn’t allowed me to get off welfare benefits. I asked constantly for more work but instead they recently hired more casual staff and took on volunteers! I was also tasked with picking up stock from 150ks away which involved two trips of a total of 10 hours, in my own vehicle, for which I was allowed to claim 4.5 hours for and received no petrol allowance.

Before my resignation I was a fairly new staff member having been employed just before a period of renovation which saw casuals receive only a few days work during the past 6 months. I had received very little training prior to the renovation period and that which I did receive was made difficult by a supervisor who was in a deeply bad mood all the time. I tried very hard to develop a positive working relationship and friendship with my supervisor and have been disappointed that my attempts ultimately failed.

I resumed work over the last few weeks in an unpleasent, stressed out environment where I was alternately bossed around, hissed at, bullied or ignored by my supervisor. I was not greeted when I arrived for my shift, I bought her a decaf one morning and she snapped at me for it because she doesn’t like coffee. When I needed help and tried to explain how I needed help and with what aspect of a task I was confused about I was told to consult a manual which the supervisor had written, one which I had difficultly making sense of and I was further criticized for not paying enough attention or not asking for more help more often when I made mistakes. Even though she spent a good deal of time managing her family crisis on her mobile I was told I could not use my phone at work. In short I couldn’t do anything right at all and she tended to work to a double standard.

I am in cancer recovery, my 3rd year out of treatment and I had informed my supervisor on more than one occasion that I had difficulty concentrating due to the medications I take and understanding procedures takes me a bit of extra time. My supervisor remaind oblivious to this fact in her approach to my training.

My supervisor had a habit of standing uncomfortably close to me when I was working on the desktop and would look over my shoulder while I was entering passwords into the computer, when trying to perform tasks my supervisor would cut in and accuse me of fault before I had even started to perform the task. When I completed a task my supervisor would find fault in the task to point of critisizing me for not putting an item of stationary in the correct draw and placing a key on the wrong side of the desk.

I was made to feel so nervous that I could not perform basic tasks and I suffered from deep anxiety during work hours if I was rostered with her. Hot flashes which are a side effect of the meds I am on, were made worse from stress during and after work hours due to this behaviour. On the 25 of July I received an email from my supervisor asking me to call her “asap” which I did and was subsequently accused of stealing from the til the night before. I had left a note explaining that the til had not balanced on paper (I had the opportunity of personally balancing the til around 4 times and had expressed my lack of experience to my supervisor prior to my shifts). I was unsure why the report did not match, having had limited experience with the software system, but was sure it was a balanced till, ie: all the cash and eftpos transactions were accounted for but in the wrong place, we needed to run a report and see where the missing amount had gone and I did not know how to do that. My supervisors response seemed over the top, literally hissing at me over the phone “what have you done with the money?” “where’s the money? What have you done?” the tone of which made me panic and unable to respond at all. Later in the day she called me back insisting that I come into work the next day for a “talking to” with the other staff member I had been working with and was palpably frustrated when I expressed that I could not on such short notice, owing to another engagement. She kept saying she wanted to know what I had done with the money so I suggested that she involve security seeings she was clearly implying I had stolen the money and she said she had already done that,(the missing amount was $80.00, the money was located later that day but no one thought to inform me about it).

I explained my concerns regarding my lack of effective training to my supervisor again over the phone and repeated this in my letter of resignation toward the end of the day to the Director of the Gallery who sent me a very rude email back accusing me of letting the team down, being an untrainable person, choosing to learn in a particular way (I am a person who learns by experience and doing, learning from my mistakes. I don’t choose to be like this, it is the way I am neurologically wired) and causing a “security breach” by leaving a door unlocked on a day when I was not even working. My supervisor had misinformed him about the days I was rostered on making someone else’s mistake seem like it was mine. At no time did the Director ask for my testimony regarding the situation leading up to my resignation. I am currently seeking legal advise about this matter and am back to trying to live on a welfare payment of $250 a week. The experience has been incredibly demoralising, disempowering and disturbing. My longterm situation of underemployment has left me in a position where I am unable to cope with bullying behaviours in the workplace and as a constant casual I feel I have no support at all, not from fellow staff or from my superiors. I am very depressed from this isolating experience which has robbed me of the small amount of workplace agency I possessed over the past year and a half. This experience compounds negative and antisocial thinking which I have begun to experience on a regular basis.

Ed Husic: Establish Senate Inquiry Into Job Agencies

The AUWU is petitioning Ed Husic, the shadow Minister of employment services, to establish a Senate inquiry into the broken job agency system. Please click here to view and sign the petition.

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Why is this important?

The $10 billion employment services system is one of the biggest and most socially destructive rorts ever perpetuated against a Federal government

Every day, private job agencies bully unemployed workers into attending dangerous Work for the Dole sites and other unfair activities in order to make a quick buck.

Unemployed workers who refuse to be bullied into one of these unfair activities are penalised.

During 2015/16, job agencies imposed a record 2,114,291 million penalties on unemployed workers – up from 311,622 in 2011.

Many penalties are unfair – 37.5% of unemployed workers who appealed against a penalty had it overturned by Centrelink. Since 2011, the rate of job agency decisions overturned by Centrelink has increased by 15% – a clear sign the system is broken.

The failure of the government to regulate the industry and penalise abusive job agencies has created a culture of fear and intimidation throughout the industry.

The suffering endured by the 900,000 unemployed workers participating in this system is incalculable

The tragic death of Josh Park Fing at his Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba – one of the 64% of WFTD sites that do not meet basic safety standards – is a product of this punitive and broken system.

The punitive job agencies system must be addressed immediately.

A Senate inquiry is the first step. The ALP has the power to make this happen.

Click here to sign the petition.

Right2Work Conference Give Away!

The AUWU has 5 tickets to give away to AUWU members for the Right2Work Conference in Melbourne on 21 July (valued at $25 each).

To win a ticket, write a letter to Minister Cash at senator.cash@aph.gov.au explaining how the Coalition’s failure to address the employment crisis has affected you.

Post your letter on your facebook or twitter with the #Right2Work hash tag.

The Right2Work conference features renowned experts John Falzon (St Vincent De Paul), Jim Stanford (Australian Institute), Warwick Smith (Per Capita) and Steve Keen (economist) who will discuss Australia’s employment crisis and how the government should address it.

The best five letters will win a ticket. Winners will be announced on Monday 17th of July.