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Hunger Doesn't Wait

Hunger Doesn't Wait

"While Dr Cullen has correctly identified the problems of beneficiaries and the working poor, 11 months is too long to wait for the first major injection of funds to deal with the problems," said Robert Reid, President of the low paid and beneficiary union UNITE.

"Low paid workers and beneficiaries and their children desperately need a boost to their incomes, but they need relief now, not in almost a year's time. You can't buy food and shelter with good news, you have to have real money," Robert Reid said.

"UNITE will need to look at the details of the budget very carefully," Robert Reid said. "Our biggest worry is that those on extremely casualised work may not qualify as "workers" because they are not working enough hours. In too many workplaces the boss has the ability to employ and not-employ people at will under the growing number of casual contracts. If government assistance to working families is linked to the hours worked when this is outside the control of the worker other pockets of poverty will be created.

"The budget offers little assistance to low paid single workers who are still struggling to get by on the minimum wage of $9 per week. The refusal to extend many of the provisions of the budget to beneficiaries makes them even greater second class citizens.

"UNITE does welcome the changes to the stand-down provisions of the unemployment benefit for seasonal workers," Robert Reid said. "We also hope the Government will dialogue with UNITE, other unions and beneficiary advocacy groups to address some of the specific concerns we have with the budget package.

"What the budget does show is that there is even a greater need for unions to organise workers to achieve wage justice and ensure that their low wages are not simply subsidising their bosses profits," Robert Reid concluded.

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