With parts of Sydney in lockdown, the union movement has renewed its call for a ‘JobKeeper 2.0’ program to be implemented to cover ongoing lockdowns caused by what it says is the Federal Government’s failure to adequately roll out the vaccine.
“The small supports recent announced by the Federal Government are only available if a lockdown lasts more than a week. This is insufficient, especially for those in insecure work who live [from] pay cheque to pay cheque,” the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said.
According to the union body, the current emergency payments of $500 for those working over 20 hours, and $325 who work less than 20 hours, does not guarantee that workers will be connected to a job – unlike the now-ended JobKeeper did.
Regular lockdowns are still to be expected
The payment will not be available to any workers affected by the Sydney lockdown as it stands.
“Only 5 percent of the population are fully vaccinated and Astra Zeneca has recently been ruled out for those under 60; we are a long way off having herd immunity and regular lockdowns are something to be expected and prepared for,” the ACTU stated.
Sally McManus, the body’s Secretary, said the Federal Government should bring in JobKeeper 2.0 to give workers and businesses security not just to survive, but to keep the economic recovery going.
Small business and their workers struggle
“With such a slow vaccine rollout and quarantine facilities not yet built, we can expect lockdowns to happen again – and whilst big business may survive lockdowns, small businesses and [their] workers will not,” she said.
“The emergency Covid payments are grossly insufficient. They make it look like the Morrison Government is helping, when in reality these payments are below the poverty line, inaccessible during one-week lockdowns and don’t give workers job security.”
McManus said the latest lockdown was the direct result of the Government’s inability to secure enough vaccines and manage the vaccine rollout.
“With only 5 percent of the population fully vaccinated, we are dead last for the vaccine rollout in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”