Official employment figures showing more than 48,500 jobs were lost last month confirmed the need for new Federal Government policies to support Australian industries and generate secure jobs, the ACTU said today.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the hands-off approach of the Howard Government to industry and employment policies was failing Australian workers and destroying job security for employees and their families.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today show 48,500 jobs were lost in September. A large fall in the number of people looking for work, particularly women, resulted in a slight decline in the unemployment rate to 6.7%.

Ms Burrow said unions were concerned that the real unemployment rate was significantly higher than today’s official figure because it did not count more than 20,000 recent job losses announced by Ansett, Optus, Coles Myer, Daimaru, South Pacific Tyres as well as the impact of the terror attacks in the United States.

“Every day we’re seeing more jobs wiped out, but John Howard is doing nothing to help. Workers and their families need a Federal Government that will be pro-active in backing Australian industries and Australian jobs,” Ms Burrow said.

“At Ansett, thousands more jobs are now at risk because the Federal Government is trying to block the Administrator’s rescue plan so Mr Howard can channel vital money into his inadequate employee entitlements scheme.”

Ms Burrow was speaking at a rally of grounded Ansett workers at Brisbane airport where she welcomed employment policy commitments announced by Federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley. These included promises to establish a national scheme guaranteeing 100% of employee entitlements, restore the independent powers of the Industrial Relations Commission, abolish unfair individual contracts and ensure good faith bargaining in the workplace.

“Australian workers need a Federal Government that’s going to support decent, long-term jobs, ensure all their entitlements are paid in full and guarantee their basic rights in the workplace. John Howard’s Government has failed on all fronts,” Ms Burrow said.