A bizarre claim by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s office that unions are “anti-migrant” is not only a baseless smear, but part of a desperate attempt by the Abbott Government to distract from major failings in their skills and employment policies that are driving a surge in unemployment.
The Electrical Trades Union said the statement, reported in the Australian Financial Review, confirmed that the Federal Government had completely lost touch with the concerns of working Australians.
“The union movement totally agrees that generations of migrants have been central to our nation’s economic growth — those migrants are our members — but what we oppose are temporary migration policies that are about undermining wages and conditions, or importing a compliant workforce of effectively indentured labour,” ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said.
“Rather that attempting to smear unions and distract from the economic failings of his government, Scott Morrison needs to explain how these policies will address the worst unemployment figures in more than a decade and youth unemployment rates that are at crisis point.
“Unemployment has reached 6.2 per cent — above the worst point of the global financial crisis — yet the response from the Abbott Government is to slash more than $1 billion from skills and training and make it easier for overseas companies to bring in their own workforce on a project by project basis.”
Mr Hicks said union concerns about the impact of allowing the importation of workers for projects worth more than $150 million were not anti-migration, but simply a criticism of a short-term skills solution that will further undermine the training and employment opportunities available to unemployed Australians.
“Economic growth isn’t about numbers on a page, it’s about delivering improvements to lives of the Australian people,” he said.
“Free trade agreements and changes to migration policies need to take into account the 14 per cent of young Australians who want a job, but can’t find one, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of people who would like to learn a trade and improve our nation’s skill base but simply can’t get a start.
“Temporary workers imported for major projects do nothing to secure Australia’s skills needs for the future.
“What the Abbott Government needs to do is develop a plan for economic growth based on creating quality, secure jobs with decent wages and conditions.
“To do that we need an investment in skills and incentives to employ and train young Australians.
“Relying on temporary guest workers, who are treated as second class citizens and shipped out of the country once a major project is complete, is not the solution.”