By Tom McNish
PROTESTERS in Wonthaggi last week stood against the federal government’s cutting of the coronavirus supplement.
The supplement dropped from $550 a fortnight to $250 on Friday, taking the maximum fortnightly payment for a single person without children on JobSeeker from $1115.70 to $815.70.
The supplement will be ditched at the end of the year and the JobSeeker payment will be $565.70 a fortnight.
Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) Wonthaggi branch co-convener Jessica Harrison said the cut was barbaric.
“With large parts of the country still locked down, two million people are expected to be relying on welfare to survive by Christmas, and with no jobs to be had, cutting payments is barbaric,” she said.
The cut comes amid continued concerns from the Morrison government that if unemployment payments are too generous, people might not want to look for a job.
“Right now, there are 14 people on an unemployment payment for every one job on Seek,” Ms Harrison said, adding last Friday was dubbed #PovertyDay due to the cuts for JobSeeker and other welfare payments.
AUWU members said they would be forced below the poverty line following the cut.
“This is a catastrophic decision by the government that will keep more people out of work and for longer.
“The government’s plan will see $31 billion withdrawn from the economy and result in a longer and more severe recession.
“AUWU members refuse to quietly accept a return to cruel and unliveable income support that failed to deliver any rate increase for more than 25 years,” Ms Harrison said.
AUWU has called on the federal government to return the JobSeeker payment to what it was before Friday’s cut, and extend the $550 per fortnight rate increase to all welfare recipients.
The union also wants to see all social security payments above the poverty line.