Securing jobs, supporting families, protecting workplace rights and sustaining economic growth are at the heart of a new action plan for working Australians launched today by the ACTU.

The Jobs and Rights Charter for Working Australians will be widely distributed at this week’s Labor Party conference in Sydney and sets out union priorities for inclusion in Labor’s platform and beyond.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said unions would be calling for guidelines for government spending that supports domestic jobs and industries, and for action to improve job and income security, including urgent new measures to protect employee entitlements.

Unions will also push for equal laws for construction workers and best possible standards of workplace health and safety, and for tighter corporate regulation, including a fairer tax system and curbs on excessive executive pay and bonuses.

Ms Burrow said the priorities outlined in the charter were more relevant than ever as working Australians felt the impact of the global recession.

“Partly due to early and decisive action by the Federal Government, Australia has been immune from the worst of the downturn as experienced in the United States and parts of Europe,” she said.

“But for working Australians, the reality is that things will get worse before they get better. It’s forecast that about 900,000 Australians will be out of work by this time next year, and we should not be lulled into a false sense of security by a few positive statistical indicators.

“That’s why we need action taken to ensure that all employee entitlements are protected and to support the jobless, particularly as the time spent out of work is lengthening.

“But we also need lasting change to the economic model of unrestrained free markets and corporate greed that was a cause of the economic and financial crisis.”

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence said unions were determined to see better targeted government purchasing guidelines implemented.

He said the union movement would continue to campaign for equal rights for construction workers and the removal of coercive powers in the industry, and for a national occupational health and safety system to be world’s best practice.

“Australian unions are committed to working with the Government to achieve our shared aspirations for Australian working people,” he said.

“Unions are determined to defend the rights of workers and to make sure working Australians have decent work, good jobs and secure incomes.”

More information
Jobs and Rights Charter for Working Australians