Australia's employment market is firmly entrenched on the frontline of an economy in desperate transition as job cuts across manufacturing and mining have been compounded this month by upheavals at Holden, Toyota and the national airline Qantas.
Now, even the bank whose latest job survey released last week, ANZ, informed workers that key jobs will be sent offshore to the Philippines, according the Finance Sector Union, Sunday.
Only days after ANZ released its national monthly job advertisement survey - showing a 5.1 per cent rise last month to 131,189 - the bank quietly told up to 100 workers jobs would go.
With Australia's official jobless rate reaching 6 percent in February -- its highest level since 2003 -- the Financial Services Union (FSU) National Secretary, Leon Carter said the bank was being greedy and underhand.
"These jobs aren't going offshore because the bank is facing challenging financial times, like most Australian workers are. The only conclusion you can reach is that ANZ bank is being greedy.
It's an uncomfortable truth for the coalition government of Tony Abbott that, for the first time in a decade, Australia's unemployment rate has hit 6 percent.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest seasonally adjusted figures, employment fell by 3,700 to 11.46 million in January, adding to strong December losses.
The resource-rich nation is enduring a sometimes violent transition now that the mining investment boom has ended and the production phase has seen major miners from BHP Biliton to Glencore-Xstrata all downsizing their workforces.
While the mining sector has played its role in weakening the national labor market, the collapse of local manufacturing -- typified by the closure of GM Holden -- paints a long-term picture of an Australia struggling to compete in its unfamiliar economic paradigm.
According to economic modeling by the Productivity Commission obtained by The Guardian, the end of domestic car manufacturing may see the shedding of up to 39,000 jobs, with little hope for re- employment as the entire sector goes under.
Those states most profoundly affected, South Australia and Victoria, could see their gross domestic product (GDP) deteriorate by 2.7 percent, and 2.2 percent respectively.
But it was only when Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced last month, on the back of massive losses, that the iconic national carrier would cut 5,000 jobs, initiate wage freezes and sell-off major assets that began to crawl through the heart of Australian business.
Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW secretary Sally McManus said up to 4,000 Qantas staff will be given until the end of the month to accept a redundancy package -- decrying the process as rushed and chaotic.
In a further blow to confidence, Roy Morgan Research (RMR) last week released its unemployment estimate for the month of February, which registered a large jump in the unemployment rate to 12.3 percent (from 11.3 percent in January)
RMR Executive Chairman Gary Morgan said, the nation's unemployment has increased to a record high.
According to RMR research, 1.561 million Australians were out of a job in February.
"This is the highest rate of unemployment in 20 years -- since February 1994." Morgan added.
In another cruelly symbolic twist, Mission Australia, a highly- regarded, non-government welfare agency and Australia's largest employment services provider, has slashed over 70 positions in the very section that helps the unemployed find work.
The tensions in the job market are fuelling a looming collision between the conservative Australian government and a hostile and vocal Australian workers unions.
Australia's Employment Minister Eric Abetz, has adopted a hard line in enterprise bargaining, with discussions later in the year certain to produce fireworks after he publicly ridiculed the same bosses that cut workers loose as "weak" for considering union terms.
Expected to be released this week, the federal government's employment and workplace relations policy is expected to clamp down on any wage increases for federal bureaucrats at just 2.5 percent, almost half of what the Community and Public Sector Union has called for.
Mission Australia has urged Treasurer Joe Hockey to make youth unemployment a priority in the upcoming May budget, but Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev said the government needed to "maintain confidence" as the economy transitions. "It is very important for the government to think about its role in the economy and it doesn't necessarily equal horror budget...it 's a huge task," Narev said from Brisbane.
With Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Nadine Flood openly accusing the government of bad faith, pressure is building in an ossifying jobs market and something will have to give.
"The Abbott government has told us they are not ready to talk about pay and conditions, yet it appears they have all but signed the fine print on this highly aggressive policy," Flood said.
"That sort of agenda from government will simply lead to conflict in the workplace."