Author Archives: AUWU

Dial Dan Campaign Launched!

In 2016, there were over 53 million failed calls to Centrelink. The Centrelink Newstart line is engaged most of the day, which means it is almost impossible for unemployed workers to contact Centrelink to report their income, resolve a suspension, report a change in circumstance of simple ask a question.

This is outrageous. It is a clear indication of this government’s approach to the unemployed: they do not want to hear what we have to say.

As part of our Dial Dan campaign, we are encouraging everyone who can’t get through to Centrelink to call the office of the Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan to ask what his office is doing about this crisis and to transfer you through.

If enough of us call the office, the government might start to actually address this problem.

Mr. Tehan’s number is 1300 131 692.

The AUWU have also released a petition asking for Mr. Tehan to introduce an adequately staffed free call Centrelink number that offers calls backs to people in the queue. Other departments do this, so why can’t Centrelink? Please sign here.

Join our campaign for a contactable centrelink! Please share this campaign throughout your networks.

Fighting Back

My job agency cut me off Newstart because I did not enter into a job plan – a outrageous penalty considering I was not even presented with a job plan in my appointment. My payment was delayed my almost a week because of this.

Complaint

On the 22nd of January I lodged an official complaint with the Department of Employment Customer Service Line (reference number 462 111).

My complaint covered Wesley Mission’s:

  1. failure to present me with a job plan to sign;
  2. demand I attend a weekly appointment despite job plan saying monthly;
  3. insistence that I would have to transfer if I refused and;
  4. bullying approach towards me

The Department of Employment Customer Service Line informed me that “my job agency can negotiate with me to attend as many appointments as required”.

When I questioned how the government could give job agencies such power over unemployed workers, the staff member said it was up to unemployed workers to negotiate with agencies. I told them I was told I could not negotiate, and the staff member acknowledged this was wrong. But at the same time, the staff member acknowledged that “the harder you push, the harder they are going push against it” and said I may need to go to Centrelink to get my personal circumstances recognised.

The Department escalated my complaint and said my job agency will be required to discuss it with me at my next appointment

Centrelink Participations Team

A few days after I made this complaint, I received a letter from my job agency stating I have to attend an appointment only one week after my previous appointment. This was a clear breach of my job plan which states I am required to attend monthly appointments.

I did not attend the appointment, and I got cut of my Newstart for the second time in a few days.  I contacted the Centrelink Participations Team (Reference number: 172 988) to resolve the issue.

I informed the Participations team that my job agency was unfairly forcing me to attend weekly appointments despite my current job plan says I am required to attend monthly appointments.I asked Centrelink to put me back on the payment given that I should have never been made to attend a weekly appointment. I was informed by the staff member that they “can’t” and that I needed to go back to my job agency to resolve this issue.

I reminded them that under social security law, “Employment services providers do not make compliance decisions under social security law. Providers report non-compliance to DHS, for DHS to make compliance penalty decisions.” The staff member, Penny disagreed. She said that “Centrelink do not make all compliance decisions. Employment services make some and Centrelink make some”. I once again read out the social security law, saying that Centrelink has the power to make all compliance decisions and that, by law, Centrelink is obligated to look into each penalty and impose the correct decision.

Penny disagreed and became defensive, reminding me of my obligation to “look for work”. I asked to speak to Penny’s supervisor.

After explaining my situation, the supervisor informed me that I need to go back to my job agency to resolve the issue.He backed up Penny saying that Centrelink are not able to put me back on the payment. He also informed me that Centrelink do not make all compliance decisions – according to him its a “shared responsibility”. I read out the social security law again, and once again, the staff member got defensive and reminded my of my obligations to “look for work”.

I was shocked. Both members of staff were failing to uphold social security law. I had been on the phone for 3 hours. I had no choice but to go back to my job agency.

Job Agency

I called Wesley Mission and organised a “re-engagement” appointment for the 31st of January.

At the appointment I once again had a new case manager. She informed me that the Department of Employment had contacted them about my complaint. She acknowledged that I wasn’t treated the way I should have been. That was all she said about it.

She told me that I need to sign a new job plan. She said she was prepared to negotiate regarding the frequency of appointments. She said she “couldn’t” do monthly appointments but suggested an appointment every three weeks. I accepted and signed the new job plan.

My job agent also informed me that I would have to do Work for the Dole soon. I told her that I would like to do voluntary activity at the National Union of Workers again, like I have done previously. She informed me that: “Last time it didn’t get you a job so I won’t be accepting it this time. You haven’t work for a while so WFTD will be helpful for you to get you into employment”.

Once again my job agency was refusing me my right to negotiate a fair job plan. This would mean yet another fight.

Complaint to Centrelink

On the 14th of February, I made a complaint to Centrelink about the incorrect information I was given on the Centrelink Participations Line. I informed them that I was deeply concerned that two staff members were failing to uphold an crucial component of social security law. I requested that the phone line be investigated.

My complaint was processed and escalated and I was told I would be contacted by Centrelink in 10 business days.

Moreland Council Accepts AUWU’s Newstart Motion – Join the Struggle!

Last Wednesday, the Moreland City Council passed AUWU’s motion stating that it will advocate publicly for an increase in Newstart to the Henderson Poverty Line.

With great support from Socialist Alliance Councillor Sue Bolton the motion was passed, with many councillors speaking passionately for the increase and noting the important role councils need to play.

Sue Bolton arguing for the motion at the Moreland City Council, 14/02/18

Sue Bolton arguing for the motion at the Moreland City Council, 14/02/18

Thanks to the great work of the Anti Poverty Network in SA, this now means that 11 councils across the country have advocated for this increase.

The AUWU’s goal is to have 100 councils agree to this motion by the end of the year.

If you would like to lobby your council, the AUWU has provided a step by step guide here.

Look forward to working with you!

National Day of Action Against Welfare Crackdown this Saturday!

In February, the Government will attempt to pass two Bills designed to dismantle our Social Security System.

The AUWU is organising events across the country to raise public awareness and build a movement against the government’s cruel attacks.

Below are a list of events already organised:

Melbourne: 1pm, Outside State Library of Victoria
 
Bendigo: 1pm, outside the Bendigo Library, 259 Hargreaves St

Sydney:
 1pm, Belmore Park (https://www.facebook.com/events/149947185788752/)
 
Adelaide: 1pm, 4/2 Lily St, Goodwood SA (https://www.facebook.com/events/1182272091906873)
 
Brisbane: 10am, 3/601 Coronation Dr, Toowong QLD 4066 (https://www.facebook.com/events/324626621382646/)
 
Hervey Bay: 1pm, Boat Harbour Drive near the Pialba Motel (https://www.facebook.com/events/1795712717398080/)

Share our facebook page here to help get the word out.

 
If you would like to hold an event in your local area, please contact the AUWU at comms@unemployedworkersunion.com. We will be happy to send you materials and help you promote it. Even if you could spare 30 minutes to hand out our leaflet, it would be greatly appreciated.
WHAT WE ARE FIGHTING
 
The government are launching some of the most serious ever launched against the unemployed. These include:
 
– Significantly expanding the dangerous Work for the Dole forced labour program
– Extend and expand discredited cashless welfare program
– Increase waiting period for Newstart, cutting payments by $540 for new applicants
– Increase financial penalties for unemployed
– Give private job agencies complete power to make compliance decisions, taking away government oversight and the unemployed’s right to review
 
If passed, unemployed Australians will be forced to do whatever their job agency wants in order to remain on Newstart, no matter how unreasonable their request. It is the privatisation of our social security system. It is kicking the unemployed when they are down.
 
Its time to fight back!
 
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
As part of our National Day of Action, the AUWU is encourage our members to participate in #OperationFebruaryFlood by contacting your local Senator urging them to vote down the Welfare Reform Bill when it is discussed on 5 February. The vote is tight so if we get one Senator to change their mind we can defeat this Bill!

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#OperationFebruaryFlood Launched

Next month, the government will introduce two Bills into parliament designed to dismantle our social security system.

To fight this, the AUWU is launching #Operationfebruaryflood. The goal is simple – flood crossbench politicians with letters urging them to vote against this welfare crackdown.

The AUWU’s #OperationFebruaryFlood webpage has two templates letters (one for the welfare reform bill and one for the cashless card legislation), the email addresses of all the politicians we should target and further information about each Bill.

Please share this campaign throughout your networks. Lets flood the bastards.

Click here for the AUWU’s editorial on the welfare reform bill and here for our petition against it.