We live in a society, not an economy. And while most of us have to work to live, we should never be living just to work. Good work can help us lead a good life. However, for many people work is now insecure, unfulfilling and low paid. The economy is apparently going strong with decades of uninterrupted growth, yet work is making life far more precarious than it used to be. We live in a wealthy country where advances in technology could be making people’s lives better, but instead we’re heading down the road of a ‘dog eat dog’ US-style society, with inequality the highest it has been for 70 years.
Even though people are working harder, wages growth is flatlining and too many people – especially young people – aren’t getting the hours of work they want and need to live a decent life. Insecurity is on the rise and people are in record levels of personal debt. One in four people living in poverty is working full-time.
This is happening because the economy is rigged. The ‘trickle down troika’ of Labor, Liberal and big business brought neoliberalism to Australia in the 1980s and implemented it with a vengeance. Under Labor and Liberal alike, labour laws were rewritten to restrict people’s rights to organise, cut away at awards and restrict wages growth. Our Fair Work Act breaches international law. The minimum wage has fallen to the point where even working full-time is no longer a guarantee of security. Big corporations are wrecking our planet and making record profits while employers use labour laws to cut wages, conditions and workplace rights