After a long but successful year, I would like to pass on the best wishes of the AMWU National Council for the holiday period, and make a few comments to thank all members for their part in our campaigns in 2011.
Twelve months ago the AMWU began a new battle over funding for the auto industry that turned into a broader fight about policies to support manufacturing across all sectors.
It is a fight to help local manufacturers benefit from the mining boom. A fight about why government defence and infrastructure contracts should be awarded locally. A fight to use the challenge of climate change as a game changing opportunity to build a clean technology industry in this country.
Economics and politics have been dominated by neo-liberalism for the last 30 years with the belief that the market is always right and government should get out of the way. The AMWU has always led the opposition to this, and argued that Government has a duty to guide the market in the national interest.
At the end of 2011, we can claim major victories and to have shifted the debate in our favour on key issues. Through the hard work of our members and activists – at work and in the community – our campaigns are telling the story Australia needs to hear about manufacturing.
The Manufacturing: Australia’s Future campaign makes plain the simple but obvious truths about why Australia needs an industry based on skills, innovation and technology, not just services or natural resources.
Our messages are clear: Manufacturing must be the base of a diverse economy. It trains our tradespeople, it pays for the research and development, and it delivers innovation. It anchors other industries and creates jobs downstream. It directly employs 1 million people.
We should be proud of the difference we made in 2011 through campaigning – in our workshops and local communities and to politicians, directly. The WA Jobs and Queensland Jobs campaigns, the Build Them Here campaign in NSW and the broader manufacturing campaigns in all states carried the message that manufacturing must be Australia’s future.
In each state we achieved results. Nationally, we had two significant outcomes which we need to build on in 2012. These are:
• The new requirement for all projects which receive government funding to submit local industry participation plans or face losing that funding.
• The $14.8 billion funding to create a clean technology industry as part of the price on carbon.
In 2012, our union will continue this campaign to build on the successes of last year. There is much more ground to be made on the local content and clean tech issues and there will be other battles to fight.
And the going will be tough. Despite a booming economy, the manufacturing sector shed jobs last year. Nonetheless, our union again increased the recruitment of new members thanks to the hard work of our organisers, delegates, activists and members.
Manufacturing workers recognise the fact that we have a good vision of what the manufacturing industry should be like.
We can be proud of the outcomes we achieved across the board last year.
I hope AMWU members give themselves a pat on the back and get a good rest over the end of year break, because as a proud, campaigning union with a lot to fight for, we’ve got another big year ahead of us in 2012.
We need to maximize participation from our delegates, activists and members to ensure success in future campaigns.
I wish you and your family a safe and well-earned rest.