Young Labor for Full Employment
Young Labor for Full Employment is a new, cross-factional group of Young Labor members formed to fight for a job guarantee to tackle the most urgent issues of our time. A look at the state of the world today can see that young people are inheriting a world that is less equal and less stable than the generations before them. The issues facing young people - climate catastrophe, unaffordable housing, and rampant casualisation in the workforce - may seem insurmountable, but they can be solved. To solve them will not be easy. It will take work - deep work at every level of society. In order to mobilise society on the level needed to tackle these issues, we need a job guarantee.
A job guarantee operates on the simple premise that unemployment does not exist for a lack of work - it exists because our economy prioritises corporate profit, not community need. A job guarantee would mean work for anyone who needs it, tackling the issues facing our nation: work building renewable energy infrastructure and restoring natural wilderness to stop climate change; work building and maintaining social housing to end the housing crisis; work in our hospitals, schools, childcare centres and every other sector of the Australian economy that brings value to our society. Critics of a job guarantee claim that it will mean boring, drab work for the unemployed - painting fences and picking up rubbish on the side of a highway - but such a view ignores the issues facing society. There is meaningful, nation-building work available to us, if we only have a government courageous enough to invest in it.
Recently, the labour movement mourned the loss of Jack Mundey. For all his contributions to environmental and social movements, perhaps his greatest impact was how decisively he proved that unions have a role in shaping the nature of work. As he put it, "our union took the view that our work should improve the lives of the people of NSW". For the Builders' Labourers Federation in the 1970s, this meant building social housing and green spaces for anyone to enjoy. For unions today, it means transitioning to a low-carbon economy and a more equal society with a jobs guarantee.
If the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed anything, it is that the most valuable workers in our society are not the most valued - it is not CEOs or bankers that have kept our society running, but ordinary people, far too often underpaid and overworked. The task of the workers' movement and the Labor Party today is to ensure that the resources of society are directed towards the work that matters, and there is no better way to achieve this than a job guarantee. It is possible to create a society with good, meaningful work for everyone that unlocks our full potential as a country. While such a task may seem daunting, we know as young people that we have no time to waste. There is work to be done, so let's begin.