An unemployed graphic designer has clashed with Ben Fordham after the 2GB host told him to “get a job” on his radio show last week.
Jez Heywood, 47, president of the Australian Unemployed Union, has been unemployed since 2017 and says he has limited job opportunities due to mental health issues.
Mr Heywood, who lives in Melbourne, had previously said he was “angry and annoyed” that benefits were not raised high enough.
The pair eventually came to face each other during a Wednesday morning interview on the radio show, with Fordham saying he “wanted to see if we can find Jez a job.”
Mr Heywood accused Fordham of calling him a ‘dole bludger’.
‘May I say something? You call me a crazy bludger on national radio,” he said.
“I don’t,” Fordham interrupted.
‘You didn’t? What did you call me?’ Mr Heywood replied, to which Fordham told him to ‘get your facts straight’.
“I never called you a dole bludger, I said ‘Jez why aren’t you looking for a job?'” the broadcaster said.
Mr Heywood then said that while Fordham didn’t explicitly call him a dole bludger, it was ‘conclusive’.
Fordham laughed off the accusation, saying he just wanted to help Mr. Heywood get a job.
‘Will you? Because you don’t say nice things about me on the radio,’ Mr Heywood replied.
Mr Heywood said he was actively looking for a job but his ability to work was ‘greatly reduced’ due to mental health issues.
“It’s hard to find things my brain can handle,” he said.
“The last job I applied to on Seek I got an email back saying there were over 100 applicants, so there are a lot of people looking for jobs and it’s a really tough market.”
Fordham then wondered if his mental health problems were caused by his not working.
Jez Heywood, 47, president of the Australian Un Employment Workers Union, has been unemployed since 2017 and says he has limited job opportunities due to mental health issues
Fordham wondered why Mr. Heywood had not found a job, as there were tens of thousands of vacancies waiting to be filled
“There are 54,000 jobs available in Melbourne. None of those 54,000 jobs are right for you? Or you apply, but they don’t want to?’ asked Fordham.
Mr Heywood said he was applying for positions that suit him.
“I can’t consistently commit to anything. My brain just gets so incredibly exhausted,” he said.
“The best thing that happened to me in the last three years was when Morrison JobSeeker’s government doubled down.”
When Fordham asked if he was willing to do physical labour, Mr Heywood said he was physically incapable of doing so.
The broadcaster then asked if he would record a part-time gig in a pub.
“The problem with situations like that is I have a cousin who runs a supermarket and I once asked him if he would hire me and he said no because I have a postgraduate degree in graphic design and 20 years of experience. ‘ said Mr Heywood.
“He said he wouldn’t see me as a full-time employee, he wouldn’t see me as a permanent employee. If he had a CV from me and a CV from someone who had already worked in supermarkets, he would take the supermarket person.’
Fordham then asked, “What would you say to someone in the graphic design industry who thinks, I need someone urgently and I’m happy to give Jez a chance?”
Mr Hewywood called on employers to get in touch and that he would be willing to work part-time, eight hours a week.
Mr Heywood has been at the center of a media frenzy since he told The Australian last week that the extra $2.85 allocated in the budget for people on JobSeeker on Tuesday was ‘absolutely nothing’.
After telling the newspaper he has limited job opportunities due to health problems, Mr Heywood said he would be homeless if he didn’t live rent-free in a granny flat on his parents’ estate in Melbourne.
In response to the article, Fordham told his audience, “Why don’t you weigh up to get a job?” Any job? Because we’re here to tell you that there are half a million available right now.’
Figures show 40,000 Australians have been on JobSeeker for over 10 years, despite over 400,000 job openings nationwide
Mr Heywood hit back at the time, accusing the broadcaster of bullying.
“Ben Fordham is a coward and bully who has been taking potshots at welfare recipients from the safety of his cozy radio studio for years,” Mr Heywood previously told Daily Mail Australia.
“This well-paid weakling benefits from demonizing the most vulnerable in our society who struggle to survive on $49.50 a day, less than half the poverty line.
“If Ben wants to shoot his mouth off further, I defy him to have me in his studio where he can look me straight in the eye and tell me what he thinks to my face. However, I doubt he has the guts to do that.’
He also took aim at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the unemployed man also called for benefits to continue.
“Albanians’ budget was a disastrous failure from someone who promised ‘Nobody Left Behind,'” Mr. Heywood raged.
“He has ignored the pleas of the AUWU, ACOSS, his own backbenchers and even his own report from the Economic Integration Advisory Committee, which recommended substantially increasing the number of job seekers.
“People are desperate. People have to make unnecessary sacrifices, choose between food, heating and medicine, in order to survive. People live in tents.’