Union calls for Governments to protect middle Australia

Release date: 20/07/2009

The Transport Workers Union has called on all Governments to step in and use its buying power not just to protect big business and shareholders, but to protect the working conditions of all Australians during the current global financial crisis.

Speaking at the ACTU’s, Jobs Summit: Pathways to Recovery this afternoon, TWU national secretary, Tony Sheldon, said that federal and state governments needed to put in place provisions that ensured not only Australian goods were being purchased, but Australian jobs were being protected.

“When we talk about Australian jobs being protected, we are not only talking about unemployment, but we are also talking at the way people are employed,” Mr Sheldon said.

“When spending taxpayers money, governments need to take into account the cost of exporting goods and services overseas. Companies not operating in Australia often do not face the same taxation or environmental obligations and that needs to be taken into account.

“In regards to free trade agreements, small and medium enterprises are able to have protections on some contracts, including those in defence, and our governments need to enforce that. At the end of the day, a larger Australian business could be considered small overseas so we need a level playing field.

“There needs to be a third stimulus package based on proper competition – where companies who are employing sweat-shop labour are not given equal footing to a company who is paying proper wages. 

“Without those provisions, we will not see the effects flow on to the Australian economy,” Mr Sheldon said.

Mr Sheldon also called for Governments to look at how they spent taxpayer’s money on transportation costs, including couriers and removalists.

“With more than 280 people being killed on our roads each year due to heavy vehicle incidents, in our industry low wages mean people die,” Mr Sheldon said.

“A joint Commonwealth/State Government report released in November recommended the establishment of a national tribunal for setting and maintaining safe rates of pay in the trucking industry. Since then, 194 have been killed on our roads in our industry.

“We need action on these issues and we need it now. The Government has the power to do this through its own spending. Every week we wait sees more people needlessly killed,” Mr Sheldon said.

Media Contact: Seth Tenkate 0408 463 199. 

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