Is ostracising the unemployed part of your #ideasboom, Senator Cash?

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After receiving an revealing comment from an IA reader to his recent article 'Stop the hectoring tirades, Senator Cash, and fix the jobless problem', John Maycock follows up on his investigation into the plight of the jobless.

IN A comment on this author’s recent article discussing the sanctioning and demonising of Newstart recipients, GraemeF shared this experience;

I had one ex-housemate who was suspended but not because he missed an interview.

He turned up and would have taken the job but got suspended because the employer rang the job agency and told them he was not “enthusiastic enough” during the interview. They determined on the basis of that call that he wasn't trying hard enough to get work.

Wasn’t “enthusiastic enough”? Wasn’t “trying hard enough”?

These are “value judgements” based on personal opinions. In the first instance, the employer gives a subjective opinion about the applicant’s enthusiasm and, in the second, the employment consultant/agency – on the bases of this information and personal opinion (subjective) – determines that the applicant didn’t try hard enough.

Let’s take that enthusiasm for a minute. Under what circumstances was this judgement made?

There are “dress codes” and such that the job applicant has to adherer to. Failure to do so could be interpreted as lack of enthusiasm and not trying hard enough – though some may argue they do not possess any decent clothes - and of course you will be sanctioned. But note: There is no need for value judgements in this case, no need to apply a label relating to enthusiasm. There is a code for all to see and follow.

But this does not sound to be the case here. Suppose the employer – indeed any employer – is basing their judgement on comparing the enthusiasm of all those who applied for the job. And let’s assume there were at least eleven applicants, that being the ratio of jobseekers to vacancies quoted in my previous article.

What this means is that someone with more enthusiasm than the failed applicant got the job. Well, actually you could say that there were ten people with less enthusiasm than the “winning” applicant. But could this be so? Was the employer giving an assessment based on comparisons between the applicants?

I would say there is a good chance that the employment consultant rang the employer for feedback rather than the other way around and it would have gone something like this: 

Employment consultant: ‘Could you give me some feedback as to why you turned down my client’s application?

Employer: ‘Well all I can fault him on is that he was not as enthusiastic as other applicants.

Now all that the employer needed to say, indeed should have said, was:  “I found someone who was more suitable”.  Perhaps though he tried that and the employment consultant pushed him for more:

Employment consultant: ‘Why was the other person more suitable?

Employer: ‘I felt he had a more outgoing personality than the others so I hired him.

Employment consultant: ‘So would you say then that he showed more enthusiasm than my client?

Employer: ‘Well I suppose you could say that.

Who knows?

However, from what I have read on the AUWU site, and elsewhere, these agencies, or "hired goons", appear to be very conniving in their dealings; and quite open to taking advantage of the one sided power relationship between them and their clients.

Consider this, from a former JSA/ESP Employment Consultant via the AUWU:

It is a relationship profoundly unequal, with one partner (Job Seekers) effectively dependent on the goodwill (and competence) of their Employment Services Provider.

And also, perhaps quite poignant, this from a letter of complaint to a job agency, penned by a 55 year old with considerable barriers to finding employment: 

I believe I am not unworthy of welfare. I believe that I am treated as unworthy. I believe that welfare provided to me is necessary, not a luxury. I wish the harassment by [job agency] to stop’.

And of course the employment consultant, now loaded with subjective “ammunition”, utilizes that power and “pulls the trigger” on a sanction/suspension.

These job agencies/consultants are now judge, jury and executioner in a growing “unemployment industry” that is starting to look more like the Hunger Games — all aided and abetted by government legislation and their anti-welfare narrative.

In that, the job applicant is now involved in an “eat or starve” contest, they have to put up a “fight” for the job, they have to outdo the other applicants, and they are being judged on how well they fight.

One will win, and be able to eat like a king. Some will be lucky, those losers deemed to have put up a good enough fight retaining their right to claim a meagre welfare payment. But the big losers will be those deemed to have not fought hard enough – “thumbs down”, out of the welfare game and into the “soup kitchen” – all at the whim of subjective quasi judges who hold no moral or intellectual high ground over those they judge, just the power handed to them by government.

When you just don't have enough jobs and can do nothing about it, the best way to reduce unemployment payments could be to set up a system that will demoralise those who would claim it. Ask them to perform impossible tasks. Raise the “jumping hoops” ever higher. Then, while the unemployed are “cracking” under the pressure, demonise them in the public domain, justifying the sanctions and suspensions that serve only to further demoralise them — ostracised for not being able to find the un-findable.

Indeed, here is a question for the employment consultants: When all the un-employable are sanctioned away, and all those able have a job, where will you be working?

You can follow John Maycock on Twitter @L3ftyJohn.

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