Public funding to businesses must be conditional on maximising local jobs, protecting workers’ rights and limiting executive salaries, say unions.
Unions are meeting in Melbourne to plan a new national campaign to protect the jobs and incomes of working Australians through the downturn.
It is essential that the Federal Government requires that recipients of taxpayer funds during the Global Financial Crisis comply with proposed new National Interest Expenditure Guidelines to protect local jobs and industries.
Public funding must be conditional on the recipient maximising employment opportunities for Australians and maintaining key industries.
Businesses receiving taxpayer support must provide secure and well-rewarded jobs and respect workers rights to representation, collective bargaining and consultation.
Public funding must be linked to the highest standards of corporate governance and accountability, including caps on executive remuneration and bonuses.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said nine out of 10 Australians agreed that businesses that receive Government support during the economic downturn should be required to meet obligations in return.
“It is appalling that some companies, such as Pacific Brands, have received millions of dollars in taxpayer support and then gone ahead shutting down businesses and sacking hundreds of workers,” Ms Burrow said.
“In return for receiving our money as taxpayers, they have a moral obligation to safeguard jobs and maintain domestic industries. In a period of economic downturn, business must realise it is part of the community and should act responsibly by accepting a short-term reduction in profits and shareholder dividends.
Ms Burrow said the Commonwealth Government was poised to invest tens of billions of dollars to protect Australia’s economy from the impact of the Global Financial Crisis, and it was vital that the money be spent carefully to deliver maximum public benefit by protecting workers’ jobs and rights.
Ms Burrow said giving preference to locally produced goods and services could be achieved without breaching Australia’s trade obligations.
“Strong local industry is in the national interest and will enable Australia to participate in global trade as an exporter,” Ms Burrow said.
A national opinion poll of 1020 people commissioned by the ACTU on the impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Australian workers is available on request.