Statement from ACTU President Michele O’Neil:

Australian workers are facing an unparalleled health crisis and a looming economic catastrophe.

That is why today we are calling on the Morrison government to provide a comprehensive wage subsidy to keep people in jobs.

Boris Johnson’s announcement that the British government will provide a wage subsidy of 80 per cents of the wages of British workers if employers keep them in their job underlines that keeping people employed is both a financial imperative and a public health necessity.

The Morrison government must provide at least the equivalent wage subsidy for Australian workers if we are to avoid mass unemployment.

The COVID-19 pandemic requires the cooperation of Government, business, unions and the whole community. It requires smart, fast mobilisation of resources, innovation and decisive action.

The role of Government is critical and the Morrison Government needs to act now to save lives and save jobs. Workers, businesses and the community are anxious about the uncertain times ahead.

Over the coming days and weeks Australians will be making decision about how to best protect their health and their livelihoods.

The Government must reassure Australian workers, and the businesses who employ them, that they are with them and will mobilise all of our collective resources to combat the health, social and economic uncertainty that lies ahead.

The Australian union movement has spoken with one voice amidst this pandemic. We know that protecting people’s health and jobs and providing them with financial security is the only way our communities and economy can navigate this crisis.

Now is the time to act.