Union backs Aussie made amid virus issues

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has launched a campaign calling on the federal and state governments to back local workers and the products they make.

The Support Aussie Made campaign urges governments to tweak industry regulation to better support growth in manufacturing, describing disruptions to local production during the coronavirus pandemic as the “wake-up call” Australia needed.

It backs increasing demand through procurement and infrastructure projects, affordable credit, loans, equity and grants, and the creation of a manufacturing investment fund which the union says will grow manufacturing in Australia for generations to come.

AMWU delegates from across a range of industries in South Australia, including the print, metals and food processing sectors, will gather on Tuesday as part of a plan to take the campaign into workplaces across the state.

“Supporting Aussie made is urgent and the COVID pandemic has shown us that,” AMWU State Secretary Peter Bauer said.

“We need to maximise our investment in making things locally and by employing more Australian workers and apprentices.

“COVID was the wake-up call we all needed. It highlighted the weaknesses in our supply chains in the most dramatic way.”

But Mr Bauer said Australian workers found ways to keep factories running.

“When air freight ground to a halt Electrolux closed its factory for four weeks because it couldn’t import the parts needed to manufacture cookers,” he said.

“Workers acted quickly alongside the company to start making the steel parts in-house.”

However, the union said it had concerns with the $2 billion electricity interconnector project between South Australia and NSW with no guarantee local steel from Whyalla would be used in the transmitters.