Continued decline in job advertisements means that the road to economic recovery will be slow, despite some positive signs in financial markets, say unions.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said recovery in the real economy will only be meaningful when unemployment begins to turn around.
Ms Burrow today visited the central Victorian city of Ballarat, one of the regions worst hit by the global financial crisis, to hear stories from workers at the frontline of the economic downturn.
It is estimated that more than 500 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Ballarat since late last year. The city has an unemployment rate of more than 8%.
Since November, several companies in this region have gone under or laid people off, including John Valves (130 jobs), Lyco Innovations (80 jobs), Maxitrans (54 jobs) and Miric Industries (90 jobs) to name a few. Additionally, about 200 workers at the Ballarat gold mine lost their jobs recently.
At the jobs and work discussion in Ballarat, workers have told how they were left short-changed of their entitlements when their place of employment closed.
“I have heard some very sad stories,” Ms Burrow said.
“The situation in Ballarat is pretty bleak. This has reinforced that recovery in the real economy must equal growing employment.
“A few green shoots in the stock market and the finance sector may build confidence, but out in the real world, employment and income security are the true tests for working people.
“The further decline in job advertisements in today’s ANZ survey shows that the economic downturn has some way to go before we will see a real recovery.
“Employers must do more to avoid adding to the jobless queues.
“Unions and some of the smarter employers realise there are things we can do to keep skilled and productive workers employed.
“Taking annual leave and unpaid leave, working four day weeks and putting in place training days, paid for by the Government, are all possibilities that have been effective.
“In these cases, unions believe that where employees are making sacrifices, it is incumbent on management and governments to do the same.”
At the meeting in Ballarat, Ms Burrow discussed the Security of Work policy endorsed by the recent ACTU Congress.
A key plank is that workers in areas hard-hit by factory closures and unemployment due to the global financial crisis must have better protection of their entitlements.