Recently the union asked our members for stories and information regarding their experiences with work for the dole. The response has been amazing! In this series of posts we want to share some of the harrowing tales from the coalface of this ridiculous programme.
If you or anyone you know has done work for the dole, make sure to fill out our survey to help us Boycott Work for the Dole #BoycottWFTD
Kara from Queensland says her work was demeaning, abusive and pointless:
Utterly disgusting. No training, no explanation of tasks needing to be done. Slave labor for zero benefit. Verbally abused by the “supervisor”. Made a formal written complaint, site manager brushed it off completely. I left and never returned. Sorting rotten fruit and vegetables for 8 hours a day. Mopping floors multiple times a day when once was more than sufficient. Biggest waste of my time ever!
Lisa from the Blue Mountains was forced to work at Vinnies, but there was little to do, seems like another situation where the JSA and the host are more interested in getting their government payouts than actually getting people into work.
I was not allowed to be trained on the till or anything else. The only job I was allowed to do was to colour code the clothes on the racks and pick up dropped coathangers. So nothing, really. I was not allowed any breaks at all, while the volunteers got morning tea supplied and a lunch break, I was required to “work” through, though there was no actual work to be done.
The irony is not lost on James in Sydney who reckons his host organisation’s mission was undermined by their methods:
Coercive slavery for a religious organisation that claimed to provide respite for the less fortunate but forcibly employed those same people instead of actually being a good corporate citizen and paying someone for their work!
We were not told about safety issues, we were encouraged by the Work for the Dole not to bother with insurance for accidents, we could not use it for a resume, and the whole exercise took us away from actually applying for actual work!
A story from the other side, Judith, a worker hired to implement a WFTD programme in Victoria, says she was massively under-resourced and had to reach into her own pocket to get basic needs met. At the AUWU we ask, where does all the funding for this programme disappear to?
I was employed under contract by St Vincent De Paul to run a Work For The Dole program over 10 years ago, and I found the facilities for participants were incredibly substandard, while expectations of them were incredibly high. Likewise, the conditions for me as the sole staff member onsite. I endeavored to make the environment as safe and comfortable for participants as possible, but I was untrained and unable to secure the necessary resources from my employer. I often had to use my own money and resources to run the program. It was among the more humiliating treatment of human beings that I have ever seen and I would not work in such a role ever again. I felt that the participants and I were all trapped in a cruel, unfair and broken system. I have also lost all belief in, and respect for, St Vincent De Paul as a charitable organisation, and for the Work For the Dole program.
Sandor from Ethelton in South Australia was exposed to asbestos before he successfully got the worksite shut down. This is an absolute outrage and there are many questions unanswered:
I was exposed to Asbestos at my work for the dole site. Safe work SA cover up. They denied any information about the investigation. All they would tell me is the site is shut down. I am the person who started the investigation. I have photos of the Asbestos also the asbestos managment center confirmed how dangerous it was. Michalea Cash claims the asbestos i was exposed to was safe and the site was safe. I have her letter from her saying this and other lies. No one from work for dole site the supervior host or job network was held liable or prosecuted for my exposure. Every day I think about what they done to me. If it will affect me it’s a matter of time. Shut Work for the dole down it has killed inocent people already and will injure and kill more.
Ted from Brisbane was forced to perform skilled labour with no training, under extremely unsafe conditions:
Very exhausting , my job is doing a fully qualified tradies would do. eg. putting up a corrugated steel ceiling and insulation in the roof system . two persons get hoisted up using a forklift and standing on a pellet without a cage or a harness. One wrong move and can you can fall onto a concrete floor. Very unsafe , I mentioned it to the team leader , he just said it is fine.