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Auto workers welcome Labor's commitment to jobs in manufacturing: AMWU

19 May, 2016

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has welcomed Labor’s plan to assist regions affected by the end of vehicle building in Australia.

AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s announcement of the Manufacturing Transition Boost was sorely needed in Victoria and South Australia where state economies would take a hit once vehicle building ends.

"Maintaining jobs and growth was the furthest thing from the minds of the Coalition’s front-benchers when they dumped the car industry," Bastian said.

"It's not just the workers in vehicle-building factories who will be affected, but also thousands more working for companies in the car-building supply chain."

"Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, aided and abetted by Malcolm Turnbull will go down in history as being responsible for losing the car industry in Australia."

Bastian said if Labor won the Federal Election, it would need to move quickly to take the necessary steps to assist in the creation of new jobs for skilled workers in advanced manufacturing. 

"Manufacturing has been all but ignored by the Coalition," Bastian said. 

"We have heard a lot of talk from Malcolm Turnbull about innovation and new opportunities in the emerging global economy but the time for talk is over."

"Auto workers have skills that can successfully transition into a range of new manufacturing jobs and if it takes Labor to recognise the importance of kick-starting manufacturing in Victoria and South Australia, our members would welcome that."

Bastian said the shut down in auto manufacturing would affect more than 45,000 workers and it was vitally important that policies were put in place to assist manufacturing to recover. 

Bastian said the AMWU was concerned that both parties had yet to commit to spend the full amount budgeted for the Automotive Transformation Scheme which was designed to assist regions, companies and workers affected by the auto-industry closures. 

Over $800m remains unspent from the Automotive Transformation Scheme and that is funding that is sorely needed to help workers transition to other parts of the manufacturing economy.

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Hedley James | Thursday, May 26, 2016, 3:43 AM
To put another point of view, and from one old enough to have watched the decline of manufacturing over the past forty years, I just had to respond. So there is the time frame from when those of us at both shop-floor level and at management level saw it all going on; it has taken that long; not just since the current politicians messed with it. We are all to blame. We, "management", failed to press our arguments fully or even effectively and the rest of the population couldn't see beyond the living standard that they had down into the southern states where manufacturing was weeping. But we do now have cleaner air, cleaner water ways, hopefully less cancers from the nasty chemicals now banned, and we all have shorter working hours, more holidays, super paid for by our employers, and our youth pressed into a tertiary education system churning out numbers into a low-job-opportunity labour market. We all went wrong a long time back and we won't go forward until we understand what we all did. China, of course, doesn't have clean air, nor does it have clean unpolluted waterways. Their workers certainly don't have the working conditions that most of us have. So, let us all share the blame and try to do it differently next time. Perhaps manufacturing could even marry up their pollution problems with a university research program to find a solution instead of sending it all over to another country who, of course, can now be seen to be buying us up, as they address their (our?) pollution problems.