Job Summit warns recovery is a long way off: unions urge action to protect workers’ entitlements
20 July, 2009 | Media Release
With forecasts of 5,000 workers to lose their jobs each week over the next 12 months, unions are calling for urgent action to protect workers’ entitlements and more support for working families to survive the economic downturn.
Recent signs of improving business confidence and on stock markets are potentially a false dawn and real economic recovery will only occur when there is significant jobs growth, says the ACTU.
Unions, academics and leading economists will present new research and discuss practical solutions to the jobs crisis at a major forum in Sydney tomorrow (Monday, 20 July).
The forum, Jobs Summit: Pathways to Recovery, will examine the impact of the global economic downturn on working Australians and their families, look at where more support can be provided to prevent job losses and help the unemployed, and explore long-term policies to better protect jobs and incomes in the future.
“Working Australians are facing a growing catastrophe — thousands of workers losing their jobs every week and official ABS data shows the average duration of unemployment has now increased to more than eight months (33 weeks),” said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
“We need to redouble our efforts to protect workers’ jobs and incomes, and to set Australia on the path to a sustainable recovery that has jobs growth and security for working families at its centre.
“The measure of economic recovery is not record banking profits or the so-called ‘green shoots’ of a short-term rise in share prices on the stock exchange – jobs are the real indicator.
“In the past week we’ve seen more cases of retrenched workers losing their entitlements and being told to take days off work without pay. To those workers, the economic recovery is still a long way off, and we all need to do more.
“Early action by the Federal Government has to date reduced the impact of the global recession, and we hope the Treasury forecast of 8.5% unemployment next year is not realised.
“But the likely reality is unemployment is going to continue to rise, and we cannot afford to drop the ball now.”
One of the most pressing issues is to improve workers’ access to redundancy payments and the protection of their entitlements when companies go bust, said Ms Burrow.
“About 30% of the workforce employed as casuals or contractors do not have any redundancy entitlements. Nor do workers in small businesses of less than 15 employees or people who have been in a job for less than 12 months.
Applications to the taxpayer-funded General Employee Entitlement and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) have doubled over the past year.
“But workers are often left thousands of dollars out of pocket, even with GEERs.
“We need action to ensure 100% of workers’ entitlements are protected and there should be a new requirement that companies make adequate provision for entitlements with stiff penalties for directors who fail to do so.”
Pathways to recovery: securing the jobs and incomes of working Australians
(Sharan Burrow speech address to the ACTU Jobs Summit)
Ph: 0422 009 011