James Clark

On September 18, young people all over the country will take action to demand a recovery that works for all of us. As the Covid crisis continues in my home of Melbourne, it’s unclear exactly what type of action we will be able to safely organise here. But this crisis is also showing us exactly why we can’t back down from the fight for good jobs and a safe climate. Find out more about organising a No Turning Back action here and demand a recovery that works for all of us >>

The tension was high yesterday as those of us in Melbourne anxiously waited for the latest round of coronavirus announcements. We’ve come to learn that the later in the day the announcement comes, the bigger the news will be. And as the wait for Daniel Andrews’ press conference got longer, the group chats started to pop-off with speculation about the next stage of the lockdown.

We learned yesterday that lockdown was indeed getting stricter. Today we found out that many more workplaces will be closed. Of course, we need to get on top of this virus as our top priority. We hope that these measures work to stop the spread and save lives. But far too often it’s the working class who are asked to make sacrifices to keep our society running. And it’s those same people who face job losses as their jobs can’t be performed from home.

Life is hard for everyone in Melbourne right now, but it’s harder if your job is underpaid, insecure or unsafe. And far too many jobs are.

With so much pain and insecurity being felt in our community, it’s easy to understand why frustrated Victorians would be looking for someone to blame. The media is quick to turn a spotlight on the few people who are blatantly doing the wrong thing, telling us that it’s our own stupidity that’s prolonging this crisis. But the reality is that 80% of cases in Victoria are spread at work [1].

This is a crisis of insecure and unsafe workplaces, not of selfishness or stupidity.

Businesses are forcing people who are on low-paid, precarious contracts to come to work in unsafe conditions, and they are putting their workers and the entire community at risk. Like Spotless cleaning who were forcing workers to come into work despite three positive Covid cases being found on the site [2]. Or the workers at the Woolworths distribution facility who were told to keep working while they waited for the tests results [3].

With so many people in essential industries in precarious or casual work, it’s easy to see why some might not be eager to get a sore throat tested if it means losing a few days income or the fear of losing their job altogether.

Getting tested for Covid shouldn’t cost you your job. And losing your job shouldn’t end with being pushed into poverty. That’s why we’re fighting for a Climate Jobs Guarantee and a Living Income For Everyone.

No Turning Back is the name of our day of action on September 18, and it’s the first step in our plan to win a Climate Job Guarantee that will deliver the dignity and security workers deserve.No Turning Back will show that there is widespread support for a new kind of politics and will put good jobs and a safe climate on the political agenda.

Young people are already starting to organise actions in a number of cities, but for the day to be a success we need people in every city in the country to start planning an action now.

Download our planning party guide and start organising a No Turning Back action in your community >>

The first step is simple: bring some friends together to discuss what your action could look like. We have all the resources you need to start planning an action with your friends, and we even have a team of action coaches who will be in touch with you to help you every step of the way.

Actions will look different everywhere. They might be small and beautiful actions with street murals or art builds in places where it’s too risky to gather in large numbers, or it could be a rally in front of your MPs office if it’s safe to do so. The important thing is spreading the word in our community and showing our politicians that there are young people all over the country who are demanding better.

Getting through this crisis and rebuilding a society that works for all of us on the other side is going to require a better approach to work.

But while this pandemic lays bare the enormous social cost and personal strain that insecure work places on us, big business is using their connections in parliament to fight for even less secure workplaces. Unless we show people that there is a better way to rebuild from this crisis, we could see big business grab even more power.

So much is uncertain right now. But I know that we can win good jobs and a safe climate if we stand together and fight for it. But we will have to fight for it, and that starts by exposing big business’ agenda and building support for a better kind of politics in our communities.

Make sure our voices are heard, start organising a No Turning Back action with a planning party now >>

[1] Workplace coronavirus transmission driving Victorian case numbers, including in aged care

[2] https://www.unitedworkers.org.au/spotless-dandenong-shutdown/

[3] https://twitter.com/redblacknotes/status/1290102235435655169?s=20

James Clark

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