Unions Matter

Stitched by: Nikki Sullivan

Pattern designed by: the pattern is my own

I have always been a supporter of trade unionism. As such I am extremely concerned about the ever decreasing number of people who join unions: in 2018 only 17% of Australian workers belonged to unions, a drop of 10% since 2005. In the current climate unions are more important than ever. We hear daily of large numbers of people losing jobs or being forced to accept wage cuts across industries as diverse as higher education, hospitality, manufacturing, the arts and retail. Last month the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed unemployment passing a two-decade high, reaching 7.4%, and the Treasurer admitted that unemployment would be above 13% without Government supports like JobKeeper.

There is widespread agreement that Australia, like many other countries, is facing a long-term youth unemployment crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people aged 15-24 were already disproportionately adversely affected in the labour market compared to other age cohorts. According to the Centre of Social Impact, in “December 2019, the youth unemployment rate was 11.5%, more than double that of the general population, of 5.1% (ABS, 6202.0 Labour Force, Australia, seasonally adjusted estimates)”, and there is little doubt that this figure will increase significantly over the next decade.

The effects of increased unemployment and the concomitant deterioration of working conditions as a result of COVID and other factors are many. Without unions who work to safeguard jobs and conditions the future appears frighteningly bleak. Unions matter!

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