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Australia: Virtual picket-line represents new type of organizing in midst of COVID-19 restrictions

"Nationwide virtual picket line calls for no worker to be left behind", 03 Apr 2020

Today the largest Australia-wide ‘virtual picket line’ is taking place. The ‘virtual picket line’ will raise awareness of how the Federal Government’s wage subsidy excludes millions of workers, and how migrant workers have been left in limbo with no guaranteed access to safe and affordable healthcare amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.

The United Workers Union who represents 150,000 workers, including workers in hospitality and on farms, is taking the fight online.

United Workers members will be live streaming from their front lawns, balconies, lunchrooms and workplaces to highlight the limitations on how the subsidy is applied to migrant and casual workers. 

The Government’s current wage subsidy initiative will leave millions of people behind. Migrant and casual workers, who haven’t been at their current workplaces for 12 months or more, are being excluded.

“I am on a sponsored visa and have been in Australia for ten years. A week ago my employer laid me off because of the impact of COVID-19 on his business. I have no income, no job and my visa will expire in a month from now. I don’t know what to do.

“Australia’s hospitality industry depends on migrants like me. But now the government is leaving us to sleep in our cars and starve. I am so angry at how we’ve been treated. It’s time to fight back.”

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