The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has released a briefing, entitled “Rebuilding jobs and our economy beyond the COVID-19 health crisis”, which contains an eight point plan to help the economy recover from COVID-19:
Improve the quality and security of jobs by creating 2 million new permanent jobs and halving the number of insecure jobs.
The growth of insecure work is no accident. It is a result of a conscious business model that promotes the fragmentation of traditional employment arrangements and the shifting of financial risk from employers to workers. Casual workers, gig workers, workers employed by labour hire firms or on contracts were the first to lose their jobs in this crisis and the last to receive (and in many cases are yet to receive) any government support to keep them in employment. We need to restore balance to our labour market. To do this we need to revise our labour laws and labour market institutions; re-visit our wage fixing mechanisms; reconsider the unfettered expansion of precarious employment arrangements; and strengthen the capacity for workers to protect their rights and genuinely participate in change by organising in their trade unions. Secure jobs, higher pay and genuine consultation will drive productivity, lift living standards, increase domestic demand and lay the ground-work for rebuilding Australia and a better life for working people…
Lift wages and living standards.
This crisis has highlighted the critical nature of the work of many of the lowest paid and precarious workers in Australia who have led us through this crisis – health workers, supermarket workers, transport and logistics, agricultural workers, aged-care workers, cleaners and many others. We need to prioritise ensuring that workers are properly valued, including through reinvigorating collective bargaining, reducing insecure work and establishing a new Living Wage…
We need changes that increase workers’ bargaining power so that wage growth occurs across whole industries and lifts both domestic demand and living standards…
Strengthening and investing in public and community services that are our first line of defence against ‘shocks’ like COVID-19, bushfires and drought.
We need to ensure crucial services remain in public ownership and are properly funded. We need public investment in public services and institutions – not cuts and austerity measures. The crisis
shows that some critical services that we have relied upon the market to deliver, such as aviation, research and development, regional media, energy, utilities, transport, education and health need more active ownership, control and investment by government…
Support nation-building projects that create decent jobs and set Australia up for a better future.
In the wake of the Great Depression governments committed to building the Great Ocean Road. After World War 2 the nation embarked upon the Snowy Hydro Scheme. We need to take advantage of the historically low cost of borrowing money to invest in large national projects that create a lasting benefit to the nation, creating hundreds of thousands of new additional, secure jobs. Key priorities could include government investment in public transport projects, inter-city fast rail, sustainable public and community housing, new hospitals, schools & TAFEs and electricity transmission network upgrades…
Education and training.
As important as investing in physical infrastructure is investing in social capacity through skills and training. Too much of our education system has been reliant on exporting education to full fee paying international students, As our third-largest export, education has failed to deliver secure jobs and increasing incomes for the majority of the people who work in the industry. With the collapse of people being able to freely move around the globe the entire industry is in crisis…
Dealing with the crisis of climate change.
Many nations around the world are looking to rebuild their economies in ways that reduce emissions and the physical and social impacts of climate change and restore nature. Australian Unions call on the Federal Government to align our economic recovery with a goal of achieving net zero emissions by mid-century at the latest and to make a greater contribution to global efforts under the Paris Agreement…
Improve social, health and economic outcomes for people and communities that experience disadvantage.
While improving the quality and security of jobs will improve our domestic economy and deliver significant progress towards addressing inequality in Australia, further interventions are necessary. Australian unions support actions and investment to improve public and social housing, address homelessness, and invest in physical and social infrastructure in Aboriginal communities…
Embrace industry policy and ‘Australian made’.
The international economy will recover much more slowly than our domestic economy. As highlighted above we need to bolster both supply and demand locally. This will require initiatives to build domestic demand, support Australian businesses, create good jobs and ensure that workers have the income to buy more of the products and services produced and provided within Australia…
Amazingly, the ACTU’s plan makes zero mention of curbing the never-ending flood of migrant workers into the Australian economy, which has unambiguously undercut Australian workers, crushed wages and destroyed living standards.
For crying out loud. The ACTU stood by silently for 15 years while Australia’s immigration program was more than doubled:
The impacts on Australian workers has been terrible, with real wage growth stagnating for a decade:
Chronic underemployment and labour underutilisation:
And collapsing average hours worked:
Australian households have also been forced to endure some of the world’s most expensive housing and the prospect of being shoe-horned into shoe-box apartments, as chronic strong demand from immigration has pushed up dwelling prices and caused massive densification across our major cities.
The future is looking worse, with the ABS projecting that Australia’s population will balloon by another 17 million people by 2066 on the back of never-ending strong immigration:
Infrastructure Australia has also projected falling living standards in Sydney and Melbourne as their populations explode, with traffic congestion and commute times projected to worsen, alongside reduced access to jobs, schools, hospitals and green space over the 26 years to 2046:
While Australia’s mass immigration experiment has been an unmitigated disaster for the working class – crushing their wages, pushing up their cost of living, and degrading their quality of life – it has been a boon for the wealthy owners of Australia’s capital.
Moguls like Gerry Harvey and Highrise Harry Triguboff – strong supporters of mass immigration – are laughing all the way to the bank as they enjoy an ever-growing customer base and pay lower wages.
Rather than standing up for Australian workers, all we’ve gotten from the ACTU are demands that taxpayer welfare be extended to more than one million temporary migrant workers at a potential cost of billions:
— Sally McManus (@sallymcmanus) May 4, 2020
The union movement should never have allowed the migrant workforce to grow so huge in the first place. They should have been screaming from the rafters.
When will the ACTU stand up for Australian workers, not behave as useful idiots for the capitalist elites that gain from big migration?