The AMWU this week stepped-up its fight for local manufacturing, calling for more action from the government to make sure Australian manufacturers were able to supply resource sector projects.
On Sunday, AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, told Meet the Press that current policies weren’t strong enough in the face of the high dollar.
“Government cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and watch manufacturing jobs disappear, particularly while we have a mining boom.
“We don’t think it’s acceptable that 90% of the gear that goes into a local resource project is imported from overseas. We’re talking about steel, conveyors, pumps, valves, refrigeration units.”
On Monday, Mr Oliver and AWU National Secretary, Paul Howes, met with the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in Canberra to bring the plight of manufacturing, in particular the steel sector, to the government’s attention.
Mr Oliver said the AMWU, together with the AWU and the Australian Industry Group, had called on the government to conduct a review with three key objectives.
“We want to know how we can maximise the benefits of the mining boom for our local manufacturers. Secondly, how we can ensure the government’s new multi-billion dollar clean energy fund means we’re making the stuff here. Thirdly, how can we see more investment in innovation, skills and infrastructure.”
After again meeting the Prime Minister this time with workers from BlueScope at Port Kembla on Tuesday, union members gathered on Thursday to unanimously reject the company’s proposed redundancy package.
AMWU member and BlueScope boilermaker, Wayne Hartman, said the offer of two and half weeks of pay for year of service, plus 14 weeks of pay up front, was not enough.
“I want to stay working in BlueScope. The redundancy package is not good enough. If we are considering taking the package then we want it to cover mortgages and take into account the families we support. I’ve got two children and so do a lot of others here.”
Mr Oliver said the company owed it to workers to increase their redundancy offer.
“Senior BlueScope executives have pocketed millions of dollars worth of salary bonuses in the last financial year, whilst planning to cut a thousand jobs.”
The workers’ resolution called for four weeks pay per year of service and other conditions.