For 42 years the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, manufacturing workers, and the majority of Australians with common sense, have been saying that it is not rational to use Australia’s mining resources to diminish the role of manufacturing in our society.
In the main their rational thinking and proposals (in the case of the AMWU, see below) to maintain and develop our manufacturing voice have been ignored – especially by Liberal National Party governments – or downgraded, relative to free trade policy, as has been the case with the Australian Labor Party.
The union has consistently stood up for manufacturing workers and for Australian society over those years, using a variety of methods and tactics. They have been more consistent and insistent than anyone else.
The covid19 virus, presumably not a being with intellectual capacity, has proven them correct.
So much so, the Morrison LNP government, steeped in a long history of hostility to manufacturing and the AMWU, has announced a “pivot” to manufacturing. (Before the virus spread the Australian economy was drifting into a recession that would have become more apparent by around mid year. There is no way that, in that circumstance alone, this government would have considered the restoration of manufacturing as part of its anti-recession response.)
A national manufacturing task force has been created, dominated by business “leaders”, although the National Secretary of the AMWU has been appointed as a sole union voice.
Paul Bastian recently explained what could be done quickly to begin the restoration of manufacturing as an essential part of the Australian economy, instead of a coincidental afterthought.
These are the Union’s preliminary proposals for the immediate situation. However, the AMWU’s capacity used to go way beyond that.
Here you will find a quick history of AMWU and other union interventions in the struggle to maintain a strong manufacturing base founded on a skilled and well paid workforce.