Coronavirus (COVID-19), GetUp and the Job Guarantee

According to a new GetUp! campaign release:

COVID-19 has hit us hard – thousands of people have lost their jobs, millions more could follow.

But while private industries are forced to close, and many jobs will be unsafe for the foreseeable future – we need every pair of hands to help recover, rebuild and take care of each other.

The Government must institute a Federal Job Guarantee to coordinate the national recovery and connect unemployed people with meaningful, safe, and decently-paid work.

You may ask what jobs can we do with all the physical distancing we are doing?  Note my use of the word physical, not social.  Social distancing is what leads to extraordinary losses of support of all shapes and sizes and leads to a great deal of harm.

The GetUp release continues:

Everywhere you look there are opportunities to connect the untapped potential of people with the unmet needs of our communities.

We need more people than ever on our farms and in our warehouses. We need people on the other side of the phone when people seek health or Centrelink support. We need people who can prepare meals, and deliver them to those in self isolation.

The Victorian Government has just announced “Working for Victoria” – a proposal that could be replicated across all states and territories with immediate effect.

But we rapidly need the Federal Government to follow suit.

Bill Mitchell offers many suggestions of what type of MMT Job Guarantee jobs could be done whilst we fight the COVID-19 pandemic.  Bill writes:

Australia has just been ravaged by drought, bushfire and then flood – before the coronavirus hit.

There is so much depleted land, infrastructure and personal care services that are required arising not only from these natural disasters but also from years of austerity and outsources of public services.

There are tens of thousands of jobs that the Federal government could fund across the regional and urban space to help improve our society.

There will probably be a shortage of medical support staff. Thousands of jobs could be created to ease the load in the short-term on the depleted health care ranks.

The food harvest is facilitated in so small way by visiting ‘backpackers’.

For those workers in regional areas who are now unable to work because of the closures enforced by the government or by consumer boycotts (not going out anymore), the Government could help shift workers into the food harvesting sector for the time being while border controls prevent people from visiting and working.

And if we are to protect our aged members of the population, then we could ensure they are secure in their homes with adequate food and other supplies, are able to maintain their gardens (if they have them), and attend to other needs.

Thousands of jobs could serve this function for the time being. There would be no reason for such a person to take the risk of venturing to the supermarket, for example.

And what about the claims that these shifts cannot be facilitated quickly enough to avoid mass unemployment?

Well, I think I could retrain as a hospital orderly, for example, in a matter of hours or a few days at most, if I was required to.

The women who entered the factories in 1939 had no prior background. But productivity rose quickly.

So I advocate major public sector job creation to help workers adjust to the loss of their current jobs (while the crisis persists) and to provide a productive workforce to enhance our social offerings in terms of infrastructure and services.

The number of jobs that could be created to absorb those losing their jobs elsewhere, which would add social value, is limited only by our imaginations.

GetUp finishes their release by asking you to sign their petition and demand a Job Guarantee to give people dignified work and strengthen our society?

Australian Real Progressives endorses this petition and it can be found here: We Need a Job Guarantee!