The Prime Minister’s Taskforce presents a significant opportunity to implement a National Manufacturing strategy that secures existing jobs and creates new jobs and a thriving industry well into the future, said the AWMU and the AWU.
Boosting skills, fostering science and technological input, and creating smarter leadership are just some of the recommendations that emerge from the Prime Minister’s Taskforce, which called on the expertise of Unions and Business leaders to assess the needs of Australia’s manufacturing industry.
AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian said the Prime Minister’s Taskforce on Manufacturing presented a golden opportunity to implement a plan to support manufacturing and make sure Australia enjoys the benefits of a diverse economy.
The non-government members of the taskforce today released their report to the Government which aims to get work back into Australian factories and make manufacturing more robust and competitive in the future.
“We need to implement a strategic national plan to make our industry more productive and competitive across the medium to long term. We can do this by focusing on our strengths of innovation, science and research.
“We need to build leverage into our industry by focusing on collaboration to build scale. Collaboration across businesses; between industry, science and research; and collaboration in the workplace.
“We need to bring together our science and research with manufacturers to create innovation and manufacturing hubs.
“We need to build skills in our managers and workers and design workplaces that encourage engagement and innovation.
But Mr Bastian warned that manufacturing is under enormous immediate pressure from the high Aussie dollar, continued impact of the GFC, increased overseas competition, lost productivity and infrastructure under-investment.
“We have lost over 100,000 jobs from manufacturing in the last four years and the Report highlights that maybe as many as 85,000 may go unless we take decisive action now to get work back into our factories and safeguard our skill base.
In the short term Governments of all levels need to back the Taskforce’s calls for action, which include:
● Bringing forward infrastructure projects suffering underinvestment, such as public transport backed by local content measures;
● Setting up a strong anti-dumping regime to stamp out the flood of cheap overseas imports;
● Bringing in more work for Aussie factories in major projects through national participation policies;
● Helping our firms win contracts by removing non-tariff barriers with trading partners;
● Boosting residential and commercial construction;
● Buying and building Defence projects locally – such as the submarine fleet;
● Ensuring buy Australian policies in Government procurement in car fleet purchases.
● Support programs for workers to up-skill and secure their employment.
● Do what can be done to lower the inflated Australian dollar.
AWU National Secretary Paul Howes said Australia could not afford to ignore the plight of its manufacturing industry.
“Australia needs a diverse industry base.
“We can’t allow our economy to be one-trick pony, reliant on the fortunes of the resources sector.
“Our manufacturing industry is not just important for the jobs of today, it will be vital for the jobs of tomorrow – especially once the resources boom starts to recede,” Mr Howes said.
Mr Bastian said, “Manufacturing employs nearly one million people, but we’re under the pump and we need a comprehensive national plan to protect against further job losses,”
“Australian workers are highly skilled but government and industry must level the playing field for our workers to be able to compete internationally.
“Every $1 billion dollars invested in infrastructure creates and sustains 10,000 to 15,000 jobs. But unless local jobs and companies are considered to build those infrastructure projects, we miss out on a significant opportunity.
“Likewise government can play a larger role in buying Australian, by choosing Aussie cars for their fleets, building submarines for Defence projects here, and ensuring local businesses get a fair go at supplying large public and private projects.
“We can be a high skilled, high pay industry. But it requires strategic planning and commitment by all parties and leadership by government.
“We can build a smarter manufacturing industry, which in turn will build a smarter Australia. That’s very important for the economic prosperity of our nation. But we must act now before we lose that capacity.’ said Mr. Bastian.
Download the full report by clicking here.