Talk to your workers, don’t just sack them: ACTU


Talk to your workers, don’t just sack them: ACTU

The ACTU says Australian businesses must stop taking the easy option and sacking staff during the economic downturn.


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The ACTU says Australian businesses must stop taking the easy option and sacking staff during the economic downturn.
The call to minimise job losses comes as Qantas announces plans to cut 1750 jobs — including 500 from managements — and Telstra pushed on with its bid to axe 12,000 jobs by sacking 100 more technicians.
Total job losses at Telstra over the past three years have totalled more than 10,000.
Minimise job losses
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said the sharp rise in unemployment in March confirms that employers, workers, and unions must work together to minimise job losses during the downturn.
‘Last week we saw short-term decisions to axe hundreds of jobs by profitable Australian companies such as Rio Tinto and Telstra that will have devastating consequences, not just for the individuals made redundant, but for entire regional communities,’ she said.
‘Even if it means taking a hit to their bottom line, big companies must do all they can to avoid sacking workers.'
Easy option hurts economy
‘Taking the easy option of retrenching workers is damaging to economic activity, and counter-productive for the company by leaving it short of skilled workers when the recovery begins.’
Burrow said employers should be consulting their workforce about ways to manage through the economic downturn.
‘Workers have often been with a company longer and know their business and industry better than senior management,’ she said.
‘Along with their union representatives, they can help come up with solutions to keep jobs. Employers have nothing to gain by keeping their workforce in the dark.’
Working arrangements
Burrow said more businesses should follow the example of the Tasmanian forestry industry, where employers and unions have negotiated a 10-day shutdown and part-time working arrangements to save jobs.
As part of its job cuts Qantas said it would avoid redundancies wherever possible. Instead it will use a range of workforce initiatives to manage the downturn, such as annual leave, long service leave, attrition, redeployment, leave without pay, promoting part-time work, and exploring job-sharing.
Burrow said that as money begins to flow from the government’s stimulus packages, unions have called for strings to be attached so that Australian job creation and retention is the top priority.
Attach strings to save jobs
Unions have proposed new National Interest Expenditure Principles for Government spending which would maximise Australian jobs and local content, protect job security and workers’ rights, improve corporate governance and accountability, and place caps on executive remuneration and bonuses.
Burrow said these principles should apply to all government funding, including the $43 billion National Broadband Project.
She said the banks must also play their part by keeping lines of credit open to business and passing on interest rate cuts.
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