Showing posts with label welfare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label welfare. Show all posts

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A May Day distress call

Around the world uncertainty is becoming the single unifying characteristic of working life. And for anyone who's not independently wealthy, uncertainty about work means uncertainty about everything.

It's been over a generation since we were told about the end of the job for life. Now people are uncertain about whether they'll have a job at all, whether they'll get a pension at the end of their working lives, and whether their kids will grow up – as every parent wants – to be healthier, wealthier and wiser than them.

Far too many people across the globe – from rich countries like the UK to developing ones in sub-Saharan Africa – are making money out of the uncertainty working people are forced to endure.

Take, for example, those running our financial institutions. Many of them are once again picking up their seven-figure bonuses while the global dole queue they helped to cause hits 35 million. If it wasn't for the taxes of you and me, their banks would have gone bust months ago. It cannot be right that hedge funds are making huge profits from speculation over Greece's future while ordinary workers face having their pay, jobs, pensions and public services slashed.

Uncertainty at work goes further than pay cuts and job insecurity. Consider the outright criminals who pay below the minimum wage in Britain, no wage at all in parts of India, employ children who should be at school, or hire death squads to terrorise the trade unionists standing up for their workmates in places like Guatemala or Colombia.

Uncertainty is the main challenge facing people working in the global economy.

People don't know when they're suddenly going to discover their employer is upping sticks and relocating to the other side of the world. People wake up not knowing whether there will be work for them today, or whether their zero-hours contract will mean another day waiting for the phone to ring. And three days after Workers' Memorial Day, people don't even know whether their employer cares enough so that they come home at all at the end of a hard day's work.

Workers in Europe still have a welfare state, rights at work and – for many – a union to protect them from all that uncertainty. And while they still face risks at work, workers in developing countries often face this uncertainty completely unprotected.

Today, tens of millions of people around the world will go to work in someone else's home as a domestic worker. Even in Europe these people are excluded from protections like health-and-safety legislation. Many of them around the world are underage, overworked and prey to brutal employers who think nothing of abusing and sexually harassing the people who clean their clothes and care for their children.

But May Day is not just a distress call. It is also a day for celebrating what people are doing to challenge uncertainty and face the future, instead, with confidence and hope.

May Day belongs to people like Sonu Danuwar, the 18-year-old leader of the Nepalese domestic workers' union who is looking forward to attending the UN's International Labour Conference this June for the beginning of the debate on a new global convention on domestic workers' rights.

If she can take control of her life and campaign for a better deal for herself and people just like her, then the future may not be quite so bleak after all.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

War Widows in Australia are much luckier than those of here

War widow wins housing reprieve | Top stories |
Under present compensation arrangements, partners of soldiers killed in action are entitled to an initial lump sum payment of about $122,000.

They can then choose either to be paid a further one-off payment of about $507,000 or receive an indexed pension of about $335 a week.

The pension is uncapped and not taxed.

Dependants receive about $73,000 as a lump sum, an $81-a-week payment while they are dependants and education support.

Widows and dependants also receive a gold card, which entitles the holder to departmental funding for all healthcare services.

The Government expects to receive a report from a review of the compensation arrangements early next year, a deadline the opposition says should be brought forward.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An American voice regarding the Obama's tax policy

Matt Lesser: Give Me Your Money! | Meet Matt Lesser
Times are tough and money is tight in households across Connecticut. Despite that fact the Democrats in the legislature insisted on a record tax and increase of $1.42 billion.

Democrats chose to tax everything from cigarettes to job-creating corporations in their zeal to grow government and attempt to increase their grip on the lowly taxpayers and residents of Connecticut.

Despite paying lip service to looking out for “working families,” Democrats have initialized a 10 percent surcharge on corporations like Pratt and Whitney, among others. So Pratt indicates it may leave the state (and take thousands of jobs with them) due to the onerous and burdensome taxes and regulations, and the Democrats pile another tax on them, all the while claiming to be “fighting” to keep Pratt in Connecticut.

The film tax credit program recently put into place has been one of the few bright spots in our economy. But guess what? Democrats reduced the film credit to get more “revenues” to feed their bureaucratic beast.

If you are one of the lucky ones in Connecticut and actually have a decent job, they’re coming after you, too. Nursing certificate fees, daycare license fees and all other occupational license fees have been doubled in many cases. Oh, and bus and train fares will go up also.

And when you are out of work, the Democrats want to crimp your leisure time by doubling your fishing license fee, for example.

The examples are endless, but the picture is quite clear: Democrats can care less about the average Connecticut citizen. All they care about is staying in office, and they have proven they are willing to tax you to death to accomplish that goal.

Democrats ignored the Republicans’ no-tax increase budget proposals, in a disgusting gesture that reeked of arrogance. Let’s be sure to return the favor and ignore Democrats’ pleas for votes at the polls in November.

Kevin Rudd as a Prime Minister should earn $1 million a year and the Opposition Leader $600,000

Barnaby Joyce calls for PM's salary to be $1 million | National News |
OUTSPOKEN Senator Barnaby Joyce has called for Kevin Rudd's salary to be almost trebled to $1 million as MPs yesterday defended another pay rise.

The Remuneration Tribunal's decision to boost the base salary of federal politicians next week to $131,000 - an extra 3 per cent - comes just months after the Australian Fair Pay Commission refused to give 1.3 million workers on the lowest wage one cent extra.

But staring down tough economic times and volatile poll results, the Queensland Government yesterday said it would stand by its 2009 election commitment and keep state MPs' salaries frozen.

Senator Joyce told The Courier-Mail that unless pay was comparable with the private sector, Federal Parliament would be filled with "lords, ladies and lunatics".

He said the position of Prime Minister should earn $1 million a year and the Opposition Leader's cheque should swell to $600,000.

Mr Rudd, is paid about $340,000 a year and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull $242,000. Both are already millionaires.

But the senator stopped short of advocating pay parity with some of the country's top chief executives, such as Commonwealth Bank head Ralph Norris, whose fixed cash salary is about $3.25 million.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon yesterday agreed with Senator Joyce and said Mr Rudd was underpaid.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the Government agreed with the "modest" payrise, the first since 2007. Mr Rudd ordered a freeze in 2008.

"Generally, we've seen wage movements of around 3.9 per cent across the economy," Ms Gillard said.

Asked how she could justify a payrise for MPs while the lowest paid missed out, Ms Gillard said: "The Government actually said to the Fair Pay Commission that it should award a considered rise to minimum-wage workers. That's what we argued for."

Acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop would not be drawn into a debate on whether the payrise was justified.

"The value for money that each member provides to their electorate is judged by the public at every election," Ms Bishop said.

The independent Remuneration Tribunal usually sets increases to principal executive officers on reference salary A - which also includes some bureaucrats - in July.

However, it determined earlier this year it would wait until September.

In a statement yesterday, the tribunal pointed to the nation's improving economic outlook, and "noted" the positive August minutes of the Reserve Bank.

The Australian Fair Pay Commission in July rejected the ACTU's call for a $21-a- week increase because of fears any rise would cost jobs.

It meant the paypackets of low-paid workers remained at $543.78 a week. The last time the minimum wage was frozen was in 1982.

Greens Leader Bob Brown said he would oppose the rise unless "battlers" got one too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Domestic Violence in Australia

Australia must tackle domestic violence to stop homelessness | National News |
AUSTRALIA needs to address domestic violence to tackle the problem of homelessness among women, with 46,000 women already in need of shelter, a welfare group says.

Speaking out on International Women's Day, Homelessness Australia said women without a roof over their head should be a priority for government, particularly during tough economic times.

Women accounted for 46,000, or almost half of the country's homeless, the welfare group said.

It said women made up 40 per cent of those sleeping rough or in improvised shelters.

Among people living in boarding houses with no security of tenure, 28 per cent were women, and 48 per cent of what Homelessness Australia calls "couch surfers" - who depend on the charity of family and friends - were women.

Domestic violence was the biggest driver of homelessness, and women and children were worst affected by it, the group said.

"The largest single cause of homelessness in Australia is domestic and family violence, which overwhelmingly affects women and children," Homelessness Australia said in a statement.
Related Coverage

* Mothers afraid to seek welfareThe Australian, 22 Aug 2009
* More than $280m to tackle, 2 Aug 2009
* WA homeless surge with rentsPerth Now, 9 Jul 2009
* Homelessness surges as rents soarsThe Australian, 9 Jul 2009
* Thousands of kids cast out on the, 17 Jun 2009

"Sixty-six per cent of children who sought refuge in a homeless service last year were in the care of a woman made homeless by domestic violence."

Spokeswoman for the welfare group, Pauline Woodbridge, said the statistics showed the country had much to do to tackle homelessness and its causes.

"The statistics show that we have a long way to go in addressing women's homelessness, and its primary drivers, domestic and family violence," she said in a statement.

"The needs of indigenous women and women of non-English-speaking backgrounds demand particular attention in this area."

Executive officer of the welfare group Simon Smith said he hoped the federal government's national plan to tackle violence against women and children would overlap with its Homelessness White Paper.

"This is a priority, with economic downturn likely to swell the numbers of people who are homeless, and further stretch a homelessness sector already undergoing far-reaching reforms," Mr Smith said.

a beggar can get AUS $50.000 a year?

Sydney homeless man makes $50,000 a year begging | National News |
* Man says he makes good money begging
* 'Up to $50,000 a year'
* People give more when heading home

THE hours are long and the work monotonous, but begging pays well for at least one of Sydney's homeless men who earns up to $50,000 a year from good samaritans.

Ken Johnson, 52, makes his living on busy George and Market St, outside the Myer store in Sydney's CBD, where he sits for up to 16 hours daily, seven days a week.

On a good day, he said, he takes in $400 from generous passers-by.

On slower days, he still picks up amounts between $75 and $150.

"I'd be really disappointed if I did a long Friday and I only had $250," said Mr Johnson, who has been living on the streets "since the late '90s".

"I knock off when I feel like it, or if I've done brilliantly. But on those good days, you might be on such a high that you go for a few more hours and get a bit more money."

Mr Johnson wouldn't say how much he earned last year. But he did reveal that donated coins and notes are stashed in a safe place, before being taken to a bank branch and deposited in his account several times a week. Some of the money is given to a friend.
Related Coverage

* $130 begging fines 'beggars belief', 31 Jul 2009
* Desperate signs of the timesHerald Sun, 28 Jul 2009
* Dollar $en$e weblinks and quizCourier Mail, 13 Jul 2009
* No place to call homeThe Australian, 9 Jul 2009
* Funds for homeless to start flowingThe Australian, 7 Jul 2009

Asked what he used the money for, he told The Sunday Telegraph he did not smoke, drink nor take drugs, but was raising money to help the friend who needs a liver transplant.

Mr Johnson displays a sign that reads: "Needing support for major family exp(enses) including just heaps for medicine. Paying up is a big grind. Please leave me alone, if you are the abusive nasty sort."

When The Sunday Telegraph caught up with him last Wednesday, business had been good.

In 20 minutes, he collected $30 in coins and notes. One woman handed him $10.

"I've had three hours off today," he said, after treating himself to a breakfast from Hungry Jack's.

"I got a $20 note earlier, so I'm sitting on about $60 for the day and the afternoon rush is still to come.

"There's a general rule in donating and that is that people are more likely to help out when they are towards the end of their day, when they're happy and heading home."

His tax-free income might sound fine but, unlike most jobs, there's no sick leave nor superannuation plan.

He does not draw welfare because "it makes you feel like a cripple".

Mr Johnson said he could not afford to rent and lived on the streets because the money had been spent to pay for bills for his friend.

"Most hostels don't have space to store things and to rent a small unit just costs too much when you're at stress point," he said.

Originally from Newcastle, he said he came to Sydney "in the 1990s" to fight a court battle against the RTA, seeking to have part of the Pacific Highway at Swansea deemed illegal.

"Inner-city accommodation was, and still is, just off the face of the earth - it's just too expensive," he said.

"I was unemployed at the time, so decided to sleep on some concrete steps while I was in Sydney and I just got used to it."

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures from the 2006 Census show 27,374 homeless people in NSW.

An Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) spokeswoman said "rough sleepers" represented about 16 per cent of the homeless.

She said many turned to begging because government welfare did not cover costs, and "for those who do receive income support, payments may be inadequate to meet the costs of temporary accommodation and food. The Newstart unemployment payment is about $32 a day.

"Of those who do sleep on the street, only a tiny minority choose to do so, as a lifestyle choice. For most people who are homeless, there is no choice."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Welfare Matters

Business defied as low-paid awarded more | The Australian
Low paid worker in Australia will be paid 568.20 a week
THE weekly pay packets of hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers in South Australia and Queensland will be given a boost after the states' industrial relations commissions yesterday awarded increases to the minimum wage.

The QIRC handed its lowest paid, full-time adult workers a $16.20 weekly wage increase. From next month, they will earn $568.20 a week.

The rise ensures Queensland workers are on par with NSW's lowest-paid wage earners, who were awarded a $15.50 increase last month.

The Australian Workers Union described the Queensland decision as "fair".

"The commission's decision is a good outcome for the AWU, its members and for the working families across Queensland," senior industrial advocate Chris Simpson said.

The SAIRC handed down a $14 increase, taking SA workers to $560.65 a week.

A disappointed Business SA chief executive Peter Vaughan claimed the SAIRC had shown "no consistency" with last month's Australian Fair Pay Commission ruling, which froze the national wage on $543.78 to protect jobs and promote economic recovery. The state's employer groups had requested no increase.

"This increase in minimum wages is likely to flow on into price increases, and may lead to operators reducing labour costs and cutting staff," Mr Vaughan said. "Many businesses are already taking the appropriate precautions to avoid reducing staff levels and with unemployment levels expected to rise in coming months, this increase ... will put further pressure on jobs."

SA Unions had asked for a 3.91 per cent increase, which would have raised the lowest wage to $568, but state secretary Janet Giles applauded the decision not to freeze wages.

The wage rise will take effect in SA from October.