Australia’s biggest supermarket chain has locked out its warehouse workers in New South Wales. The lockout is the first battle in a coming war over who will benefit from automation — solidarity with the Coles workers is vital.
Lauren Kelly is a policy adviser with the United Workers' Union in Melbourne, Australia.
In March, Australia’s wage subsidy scheme and generous unemployment benefits stood out globally for their decent approach to the COVID-19 crisis. Now, as cases spike, those schemes are being eroded as government opts to push more people into insecure work.
The Australian “JobKeeper” scheme will subsidize the wages of many throughout the course of this pandemic, but more than 2 million workers are set to be left out entirely. What’s more, the scheme undermines collective bargaining agreements, giving more power to employers in a shift that threatens to far outlive this crisis.