Published: 05/07/2022
Category: On The Job
Published: 05/07/2022
Category: On The Job

The lines snaking along the roads outside Foodbank’s warehouses in Dandenong and Epping on Melbourne’s suburban edge say more than any politician or pundit could about the cost-of-living crisis working people are facing.

Foodbank Victoria CEO Dave McNamara is calling for a public “drive-thru” delivery of food to those in need.

His organisation is at the frontline, dealing with a massive spike in the number of people seeking help to put dinner on the table for their families.

“The cost-of-living pressures on individuals and families at the moment have spiked so dramatically and people are struggling to get back in front,” McNamara says.

“Not only are charities struggling right now to meet the demand as they come back from COVID,” he says.

But people who are working and find themselves in this position for the first time, have no idea where to go.”

Foodbank is dealing with as many as 50,000 people seeking food assistance per day.

At a time when the headline unemployment rate hovers around 4%, big business shrugs its shoulders and complains about staff shortages.

With wages barely keeping up with galloping price hikes, it’s easy to understand why working people are seeking assistance to feed themselves.

Insecure work leads to the growing cost-of-living gap

The recent success of the union-led win for a significant pay rise of 5.2% for Australia’s lowest paid has provided much needed relief to struggling workers.

But as inflation continues to grow, so does the gap between what people earn and the figures on their bills.

For far too many working Australians, the idea of having a stable, secure job that provides a wage for decent housing, puts food on the table, meets your cost of living commitments and allows for your family to thrive is a thing of the past.

How is it that in a country as affluent as Australia, we have hard working people finding themselves dependent on charity to meet their basic needs?

We know that former Liberal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann let the cat out of the bag when he said that low wages were a deliberate design feature of the recent Coalition Government’s economic plan.

A nine year legacy leaves workers behind

What is the result of the past nine years of conservative government?

According to Foodbank’s 2021 Hunger Report, the findings are stark:

  • One in six adults in Australia haven’t had enough to eat in the last year
  • Two million children have gone hungry in the last year
  • One in three people struggling to meet their food needs are new to the situation
  • Two in five people seeking food relief do not get enough for their household’s needs
  • More than half of people impacted by severe food insecurity go a whole day every week without eating
  • 64% of food insecure Australians have a job
  • Foodbank provides food relief to more than a million people each month

The report is a shocking indictment of an economy that has been built around insecure work, low wages, lack of training and a total indifference to plight of working Australians.

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said that workers everywhere need the industrial relations system to start working for them, and not just for the interests of bosses.

We’re currently in a cost-of-living crisis, with low unemployment, productivity growing, profits at record highs but wage growth lagging well behind the cost of living. The bargaining system is broken and no longer delivering the wage growth that should be driving economic growth.

Sally McManus
ACTU Secretary

Sally McManus  -  ACTU Secretary

“Wage growth which keeps pace with the cost-of-living is the least Australian workers should expect after nearly ten years without a real pay rise, capped off by years of real pay cuts, a pandemic and a cost of living crisis,” McManus said.

Until that happens, expect to see more long lines outside your local Foodbank warehouse.

Workers and their families deserve so much better than that.

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Cover image photo credit: Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Foodbank besieged as cost-of-living crisis bites

Foodbank besieged as cost-of-living crisis bites