Everyone has the right to a good life – that’s why we need a jobs guarantee
A Jobs Guarantee is a promise to abolish unemployment. Funded federally, but implemented locally, it is a scheme that makes available as many jobs as are necessary to ensure everyone who wants to work can work.
The Greens believe that everyone has the right to a good life, and that includes access to a quality job if you want to work. That’s why we are working at both a state and federal level to deliver a Greens Jobs Guarantee.
Millions of Australians have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One in ten people in NSW are on Jobseeker. But even before the pandemic struck, unemployment plus underemployment was at 13 percent. Underemployment has been on the rise for 40 years.
We are facing an economic, social and environmental crisis. The solution to this crisis is not low paid internships or dodgy and dangerous work for the dole schemes. It’s not handing over billions of public money to punitive and ineffective for profit Jobactive providers.
Now is the moment to think big, to finally abolish unemployment and introduce a right to a good life with the Greens’ Job Guarantee.
As part of a wider reform package that includes nationalising essential sectors, expanding the public service and a universal welfare payment, the Job Guarantee will give everyone the right to economic stability and meaningful work.
What does it do?
The Jobs Guarantee will ensure anyone who can’t find work, or can’t find meaningful and rewarding work, has access to fulfilling and decently-paid jobs. The Jobs Guarantee will pay a living wage, abolish unemployment and lift unemployed workers out of poverty while addressing the environmental and social crises that existed before COVID-19.
It’s not just people out of work who will benefit. The Jobs Guarantee will give greater bargaining power to low paid workers by removing the ‘labour disciplining’ effect of unemployment. If decent jobs and guarantee employment are available to everyone who needs them, this will enable workers, subjected to poor wages and conditions in their current jobs, to leave unless conditions improve. This will boost wages and conditions for all workers who are experiencing record low wage growth and increased attacks on their wages and conditions.
What work can we do with a Jobs Guarantee?
The Job Guarantee will address climate change by providing work to help deliver large-scale renewable projects, it will retrofit housing to make it sustainable warmer in winter and cooler in summer helping to address energy poverty. It will replant forests, restore landscapes ruined by coal mining, build the infrastructure our cities and towns need with public transport links, water recycling, and new urban parks.
This is more than just infrastructure and building, the Jobs Guarantee will also help resolve the crisis in care by compensating unpaid care work, expanding our early childhood education system and workforce and helping seniors to age in their homes and communities.
Why a Jobs Guarantee?
Already we are seeing big business and politicians calling for industrial relations “reform” to a system already rigged in favour of bosses. This is a cynical use of the pandemic as a cover to attack working people’s wages and conditions. It is also a race to the bottom that will harm the economy and increase economic insecurity.
We know we can afford a jobs guarantee, because it comes at a cost similar to the Jobkeeper scheme, but instead of funnelling money into private enterprise, it will deliver funds for nation-building and environmentally essential projects. We will be investing to put people to work, regenerating, repairing and future proofing our economy and our country.
The current split between Jobkeeper and Jobseeker payments penalises casual workers and sets up a two-tier division between the “deserving unemployed” and those who were without work before the crisis. When the Coalition moves to roll back even these benefits the economic divide will only grow.
We can and must demand more than a worse version of the status quo after this pandemic
How will it work in practice
The Jobs Guarantee will create jobs as needed in the public sector and in not-for-profit projects designed to restore, help and build.
It is not designed to replace the public service but abolish unemployment by creating a buffer stock of available jobs, into which workers would be able to move when the mainstream labour market contracts as we are seeing now due to COVID-19, and which they could choose to leave when the economy recovers and there is growth in employment demand.
The Job Guarantee will be pegged to the living wage, it is not a work for the dole scheme The Jobs provided will be public, valuable and pay a living wage.
What work can we do with a Jobs Guarantee?
- Address climate change with large-scale renewable projects that benefit from jobs guarantee workers.
- Employ people across the country to retrofit housing to make it sustainable, warmer in winter and cooler in summer. This also helps to address energy poverty.
- Replant forests, restore landscapes damaged by mining and agriculture, build the infrastructure that our cities and towns need with public transport links, water recycling, and new urban parks.
- Expand the number of jobs helping people with disabilities and seniors to remain in their homes and supported in their communities
- Expand the capacity of the child care and community care sector by creating opportunities for paid training and career development
How do we pay for it? – We are a rich country – if we tax corporations and hyper-wealthy individuals properly and abolish tax loopholes we can end unemployment and give everyone the right to a good life
The Job Guarantee will replace the largely privatised Job Services Australia and Centrelink unemployment police saving billions in public funds.
Because the jobs guarantee mobilises labour that is otherwise inactive (people who want to work and can’t get a job) the Federal government can expand the money supply to provide the income needed to put people to work. Expanding the money supply while also expanding the productive work undertaken will not devalue the worth of money. In short, a jobs guarantee aimed at providing the surge in jobs needed to gain full employment does not produce an inflationary spiral.
How much would a living wage be?
60% of the median wage will lead to a minimum weekly wage of $852.60. It means over $150 more than the minimum wage.
If the work is meaningful and the projects important why not have them as long term permanent jobs?
The aim of the Green’s’ Jobs Guarantee is to abolish unemployment – it needs to be responsive to expansion and contraction in mainstream employment. That said it still needs to offer meaningful and safe work unlike the current work the dole scheme.
How will the Greens implement it?
Numerous long term Greens policies are being implemented right now. Free early childcare, raising the rate of Newstart, a moratorium on evictions. A trial of the guarantee in localised areas is one possible model to start getting it into practice.
How does it work with the Australian Greens Job Guarantee?
The Australian Greens Jobs Guarantee provides everyone under 30 with a secure and decent job if you want one, working in the industries that will tackle the climate emergency and build a more creative, and caring society.
The Greens NSW want to extend this policy to everyone – so that everyone has what they need to live a good life.
What’s the difference between a JG and the Universal Wellbeing Payment?
These two schemes work together
A jobs guarantee provides a job for everyone who wants to engage in the more traditional labour market.
For those who don’t want a traditional paid job but want to contribute in other ways, whether as a carer, an artist, a student, a parent or an entrepreneur, the Universal Wellbeing Payment is available for support.
Why not JobKeeper?
JobKeeper is a no strings attached handout of public funds to businesses, not workers.The payments exclude millions of workers, and sets up a two-tier division between the “deserving unemployed” and those who were without work before the crisis. It has no requirement that the work be socially or environmentally useful.