Blue Collar Alliance deliver a message to Colin Barnett

Manufacturing Matters (print), February 2013 http://n/a

Massive crowds rally the streets of Perth to highlight unsafe and unfair exploitation of the 457 Visa.

On Thursday the 28th of February 2013, a phenomenal turnout of approximately 7000 members from various unions all over Australia marched the busy streets of Perth’s CBD to rally for the future of jobs in Australia. These members of the Blue Collar Alliance protested the Barnett Government for better national health and safety, the greater use of apprentices on large projects, and that before companies seek supplementary labour overseas, they make Australian labour their first choice.

Since Colin Barnett assumed office as Premier of Western Australia in 2008, he has seen over 700,000 tonnes of steel fabrication work go overseas as a cheaper alternative for resources companies and has had no reaction to the steady decrease of employment in WA.

“Colin Barnett has presided over one of the worst declines in manufacturing in our history and he has done absolutely nothing about it,” said Steve McCartney, WA Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.

The backbone of this state’s economy is mining and manufacturing, Mr. Barnett should have seen trade jobs as a priority in terms of it providing employment for the state’s people.

“Given that industry estimates that steel manufacturing adds 60 jobs for every thousand tonnes of steel fabrication, that is almost 42,000 jobs lost.”

It has become increasingly easier for large resources companies to employ supplementary labour from overseas through loopholes in rules regarding the 457 temporary work visas leaving many Australian workers unemployed, Mr. McCartney even stated;

“In Australia today, Aboriginal workers are left unemployed whilst foreign workers are flown in by the plane-load to do the work. No foreign worker should be brought in to Australia on a temporary visa until every Aussie is offered the training to get the job done here.”

The Gillard government has recently announced a $1 billion investment in boosting Australian innovation, competitiveness and productivity in a plan to create and support Australian jobs.

“We’ve had the Gillard government announce a $1billion package called the Australian job plan… sufficed to say it’s the biggest piece of industry policy that we’ve seen in twenty years.” Said Paul Bastian, National Secretary of the AMWU while addressing the rally. 

The rally of blue collared workers had made it clear at the rally that they have been waiting for change for Australian trade jobs for far too long, and it is now time for a change in Government.

“Since 2008, we’ve lost 125,000 jobs out of our industry, and we know that if state governments and federal governments continue to do nothing about it, we’ll see another 85,000 jobs go, within the next 4 years”

This massive movement of Australian workers has sparked nationwide discussions in both State and Federal Governments to back Australian industries to win more work back home. Julia Gillard has stated that she wants to back Australian jobs, and former One Nation Party leader, Pauline Hanson has said she supports the Prime Minister’s decision.

The aim of the Blue Collar Alliance rally was to spread the message of what is really going on behind the scenes in large statewide industries; the exploitation and the unsafe, unfair work conditions. Change is now happening across the country, and has been made one of the main election issues.

Other guest speakers included Les McLaughlan (CEPU State Secretary), Chris Cain (MUA State Secretary), Dave Noonan (CFMEU National Secretary), Paddy Crumlin (MUA National Secretary) and Fran Logan MLA, WA Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations