The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union has demanded action to turn the tide on Western Australia’s jobs crisis, as new data shows the state’s unemployment rate has climbed yet again.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data, released this morning, shows WA’s trend unemployment rate climbed to 6.7 per cent in December last year, up from 6.6 per cent in November 2016. The national trend unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent.
The surge in unemployment represents another 1400 people who lost their jobs in WA between November and December 2016.
AMWU WA State Secretary Steve McCartney said today’s unemployment statistics painted a bleak picture for the state after years of inaction from the Liberal-National government.
“Today’s figures confirm WA is in the grip of an employment crisis as thousands of jobless West Australians struggling to find work to stay afloat financially and feed their families,” Mr McCartney said.
“WA’s unemployment rate is at its highest since 2002 while Colin Barnett continues to send WA government projects offshore.
“Barnett has proven time and time again that he has no plan for manufacturing jobs in WA.
“His much lauded 10-point plan to reboot WA’s manufacturing industry did not work and our manufacturing sector is copping the brunt of the Premier’s failure to ensure local content from local projects and plan for a future after the mining boom.
“At the same time that Barnett has supported the use of more 457 visas to take away jobs from local workers, he has been exporting our manufacturing industry overseas.”
Mr McCartney said it was beyond belief that the Barnett Government was spending up big on a new advertising campaign that claimed the government was “committed to developing a skilled workforce in shipbuilding” in WA when it had failed the local manufacturing sector for the past eight years, resulting in the loss of hundreds of shipbuilding jobs.
“The hypocrisy is astounding,” Mr McCartney said.
“The Barnett Government is squandering taxpayers’ money on an online advertising campaign that promises a bright future of WA’s shipbuilding industry.
“This campaign has been badged up as a series of legitimate news stories that spruik ‘decades of work for our children and grandchildren’ but it is nothing more than speculation and spin.
“It does not show the very sad and sorry story of the hundreds of skilled workers who have lost their jobs in WA and have become jobless statistics.”
Boilermaker/welder and father-of-two Peter Kennedy said he had struggled to find a permanent job since he was made redundant by shipbuilder BAE Systems in October last year.
“I had the most incredible job at BAE Systems working on the ANZAC class frigates. I loved it,” Mr Kennedy said. “But a lull in between contracts meant I was laid off. It was really disappointing.”
Thirty workers were initially made redundant by BAE Systems in mid-2016 and Mr Kennedy was part of a second group of another 50 workers laid off three months later.
“I’ve found casual work as a boilermaker/welder but I have had to accept work that is paying a lot less with no added benefits or penalties.
“The specialist skills I learnt during my four-and-a-half years at BAE Systems are now sitting idle.
“With the way things are at the moment, I wonder how my son will one day get an apprenticeship,” he said. “In five years’ time when the state is booming again, we won’t have enough young up-and-coming apprentices.”
Mr McCartney called for greater investment in manufacturing jobs and apprenticeships in WA.
“WA Labor has a decisive plan to create 50,000 jobs in WA and maximise local content in the regions through government purchasing and infrastructure projects,” he said. “This is what we need for our manufacturing sector.”
Creating jobs and maximising the involvement of local workers and businesses in government-funded projects are key elements of the AMWU’s Plan For WA Jobs.
To find out more about the AMWU’s Plan for WA Jobs go to www.wajobs.org.au/plan_for_wa_jobs