A group of workers, recently laid off or retrenched due to the global financial crisis, will today (Monday) have the opportunity to tell their stories and call for more protection of workers’ entitlements, at a jobs and work discussion with ACTU President Sharan Burrow and the Secretary of the Ballarat Trades and Labor Council, Graeme Shearer.

It is estimated that more than 500 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Ballarat since late last year. The central Victorian city has an unemployment rate of more than 8%, among the highest in the state.

Since November, several companies in this region have gone under or laid people off, including John Valves, Lyco Innovations, Maxitrans, and Miric Industries to name a few. Additionally, about 200 workers at the Ballarat gold mine lost their jobs recently.

“Unions are at the forefront of protecting jobs and making sure workers don’t lose their entitlements if a company goes bust,” Ms Burrow said.

“Companies and workers in Ballarat have been hit hard by the global financial crisis, so it makes sense for us to come here and speak to workers directly.

“As representatives of workers, it is the job of unions to work with companies and figure out ways to prevent job losses. Where that is not possible, unions are seeking a better scheme to guarantee workers entitlements.”

A Security of Work policy endorsed by the recent ACTU Congress proposes a range of policy solutions to keep people in employment and to protect incomes during economic downturns.