"It was very frustrating, I’ve worked all of my life": Joe Royston on the job hunt. Photo: Peter Stoop
Joe Royston has a question for the Prime Minister.
‘‘Tony Abbott wants young people to work until they’re 70. I’m 56 and I haven’t been able to get a job, so what are we supposed to do?’’ he said on Tuesday.
Mr Royston, who lives in the Hunter Valley and until recently worked in Singleton, has been a regular fixture traipsing up and down the New England Highway and Hunter Expressway this week, wearing a sign that reads ‘‘please give me a job’’.
He’s been looking for work since the contracting firm he worked for, PowerServe, went under last month.
‘‘I was handing in resumes and applying online and not getting any responses, so I decided it was probably better to hit the road myself,’’ he said.
‘‘It was very frustrating, I’ve worked all of my life, including 22 years in the military.’’
Mr Royston is not the first peson in the region to take this approach to unemployment; in April last year, the Newcastle Herald reported on Michelle Redman, who stood on the Pacific Highway at Hexham with a similar sign.
But with job losses in the mining industry coming with increasing regularity, Mr Royston believes his campaign could become a common sight.
‘‘Certainly up in the valley, there’s a lot of people doing it tough because of the coal mining downturn,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s a lot of companies closing their doors."
PowerServe was a local family-owned company that provided electrical power systems and cabling infrastructure.
When it closed, all staff lost their jobs, but Mr Royston argues that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
‘‘With PowerServe, there might be 200-odd job losses, but it can end up being hundreds more ancillary people, because of all the other industry jobs that rely on that company.’’
Mr Royston has mostly worked in warehouse management and has qualifications including a diploma in management and a certificate 4 in Transport and Distribution Warehousing.
He says he has had a couple of tentative offers since heading out with the sign.