Richard Foley from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union hits out at 'lazy' governments

Richard Foley
Richard Foley

Related coverage:

A new class of Australians are living dangerously close to disaster, according to a Wagga-based job seeker advocate.

Richard Foley from the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) said an increasing squeeze in the job market and cuts to government spending had created a precarious lifestyle for close to three million people.

“There’s about 750,000 people unemployed, 1.1 million underemployed and another million that falls between the cracks – that’s a huge number,” Mr Foley said.

“Successive governments have failed to come up with solutions to the problem and now we’ve got a lot of people living week to week.”

Mr Foley’s comments came after recruitment companies and businesses spoke out about the difficulty in finding suitable workers, saying there was a widespread “attitude problem”.

But Mr Foley said the recruitment companies were equally a part of the problem.

“You’ve got these private companies with huge contracts to find work for the unemployed,” he said.

“What we want to see is the scrapping of these private providers and a return to the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).

“The vast majority of people out there want to work – to be fair there’ll always be some who are just too lazy – but they’re just not effective.”

The CES was privatised during the first term of the Howard government, but Mr Foley said scandals in the private education sector were a clear sign that sometimes the government need to place people before profits and help job seekers retrain.

A large number of job vacancies advertised on seek.com.au were professional roles, or ones that required specific training. 

A TAFE NSW spokeswoman said enrolments had grown in past year as the state government introduced fee-free scholarships and the capping of apprenticeship and traineeship fees at $2000 and $1000 respectively.

“Under Smart and Skilled, TAFE NSW continues to be the backbone of a high-quality vocational education and training system… delivering qualifications ranging from Certificate I to Bachelor Degree level,” she said.

“Smart and Skilled provides fee-free scholarships for students with a disability, Indigenous Australians, victims of domestic violence, people in social housing and those in out-of-home care. We estimate that up to 100,000 students will go through this program this year.”

If you have concerns about Job Network providers or getting a fair go, contact Richard Foley on 0455 946 001 or visit www.unemployedworkersunion.com.