As workers across Sydney face the prospect of an extended lockdown without pay, unions are calling on the government for the JobKeeper program’s return amid the worsening COVID crisis.
The program was widely credited as a success for providing workers with a liveable income of $1500 per fortnight while maintaining the connection to their employer.
However the federal Government has steadfastly refused to consider resuscitating Jobkeeper, instead providing emergency payments of only $325 per week for those who have lost less than 20 hours a week and $500 for those who have lost 20 hours or more.
“The Morrison Government has been utterly complacent, both on vaccines and income support,” said Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey.
“Workers across Sydney have had their livelihoods smashed, yet the Liberals seem to think hoping for the best will do.
“It’s time to resuscitate the program unions fought so hard to establish, and that is Jobkeeper. This program maintains the link between employer and employee and allows businesses and their workforce to re-emerge on the other side of a lockdown.
“This isn’t rocket science. All the knowledge and experience is in place. We just require conviction and commitment from the federal Government.
“We also need proper pandemic and vaccine leave for people who have to isolate or get vaccinated. It would also help if the federal Government could deliver enough vaccines. The current system is a hodge-podge, with far too many Sydney workers falling through the cracks.
“The time for stunts and marketing spin has well and truly passed. We are back to crisis stage. The Morrison Government needs to step up.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has remained steadfast in his answer to the NSW Treasurer’s request for JobKeeper to be reinstated: a firm “no”.
“The Treasurer of New South Wales has written to me asking for the reinstatement of JobKeeper,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “We are not bringing back JobKeeper.
“That was an emergency support payment that we introduced at the height of the pandemic. We then extended it beyond the initial six months to 12 months.”
However, earlier today NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed details of extended support for business and their employees will be detailed by the federal government within the next couple of days, as the state braces for further lockdown.
“I have been involved in very high-level discussions on an ongoing basis. The NSW government has done a lot of work in this regard and I hope to have something to announce within the next couple of days,” Ms Berejiklian said.