Unions welcome today’s announcement of new Government spending on road, rail and education infrastructure and call on employers to do everything possible to protect jobs.

“Today’s announcement shows the Government is well and truly doing its bit to stave off the effects of the global financial crisis on working families, now the business community must do the same,” said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

“This latest Government stimulus package includes substantial tax breaks for businesses to invest in new equipment and a tax holiday for small businesses.

“Employers now have a responsibility to avoid job cuts wherever possible. Instead, they should redeploy, reduce excessive working hours, or take advantage of the downturn to retrain staff.

The $4.7 billion stimulus package announced by the Prime Minister today is the necessary longer term investment that was needed to follow up on this week’s $10.4 billion boost to family’s spending power, said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence.

“The infrastructure spending will go towards nation-building projects like roads and rail as well as to education and research that will create sustainable, skilled jobs and improve economic opportunities into the future.

Unions have been urging the Government to increase infrastructure funding as signs have grown of a worsening economic outlook.

Mr Lawrence said employers should now follow the Rudd Government’s lead by doing all they can to preserve jobs.

Employers should adopt the car industry model of reducing working hours rather than shedding staff, and use the downtime to retrain staff.

“Employers have a responsibility to safeguard jobs of working Australians so that their income can flow into consumer spending that will underpin our economy,” Mr Lawrence said.

“In September, the share of the economy going to company profits hit a record high, while wages were at a 44-year low.

“Employers did well out of the long boom and now need to invest some of those proceeds into protecting jobs and re-skilling employees for the economic recovery,” said Mr Lawrence.