A year ago this week, the World Health Organisation (WHO) made an announcement we never imagined would happen in our lifetime – the outbreak of a global pandemic.

The first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic is a moment to reflect on how the disease has caused untold heartbreak across the globe, altered our way of life, shaken our communities, upended livelihoods and left us in a whirlpool of uncertainty about what comes next.

How governments have responded to the crisis has varied widely. Here is Australia, we have seen success in curbing the impact of the pandemic by swift and sustained action from state governments determined to keep their communities safe.

It has come at a cost for workers, businesses and jobs, as lockdowns and border closures have disrupted economic activity.

The JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs that were established after a concerted campaign from the union movement have provided a lifeline for millions of Australians who suddenly found themselves without a job.

Keeping money in the economy and people connected to their workplaces triaged the bleeding, providing vital spending money to a beleaguered economy and delivered hope that a return to work was still possible.

As we pass the anniversary of the pandemic taking hold, both JobKeeper and JobSeeker are being wound back or wound up entirely.

The Morrison government reverting to type, muttering about “budget repair” (read budget cuts, service reduction and further unemployment), and trying once again to punish workers by cutting their pay and conditions by reducing their rights at work with its Omnibus Bill industrial relations legislation.

Rather than a flood of ideas to help Australia build back a stronger and fairer economy, Scott Morrison is offering the same old, trickledown economics.

We need a new vision for a future that incorporates an inclusive economy that embraces equality, places job security at its heart, promotes sustainability, innovative tech and smart manufacturing, and leaves no one behind.… Click To Tweet

Australia desperately needs a new vision for a future that incorporates a strong, inclusive economy, one that embraces gender equality, places job security at its heart, values sustainability, embraces innovative technologies and smart manufacturing, and leaves no one behind.

The Australian Union movement’s National Economic Recovery Plan delivers a vision of a country emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic as a nation committed to building back better.

It’s not too late to make the changes necessary to ensure a better Australia for all. Here’s how we’d go about it.

ACTU President Michele O’Neil mailing Australian Union’s National Economic Reconstruction Plan to every member of Federal Parliament

End the insecure work economy

With over 30% of the Australian workforce in insecure work, Australian families were cruelly exposed to economic hardship when the economy tanked and jobs evaporated at the start of the pandemic.

The idea that the way to fix the economy is to hurt workers with more punishing legislation like the government’s Omnibus Bill is lunacy.

@ScottMorrisonMP is putting profit ahead of people, ideology ahead of innovation and austerity before prosperity. @unionsaustralia Click To Tweet

A government committed to delivering more power to big business and more pressure and uncertainty for working Australians is one that is putting profit ahead of people, ideology ahead of innovation and austerity before prosperity.

Australian workers are crying out for good, secure jobs that they can build a future for their families on. It should be the top priority of any government committed to a better Australia for all.

Universal Early Childhood Education and Care

Women have borne the brunt of both the social and economic impact of the pandemic and have been on the frontline of fighting the disease – as health workers, cleaners and supermarket workers amongst other roles.

Establishing a rollout of high quality publicly funded, not for profit childcare and early education services allows women to fully participate in the workforce without the crippling costs currently associated with doing so.

Training for Reconstruction

To rebuild the economy, equipping young workers with the skills required to meet the challenges of the future is essential.

A Training for Reconstruction program providing 150,000 free TAFE places would be a game-changer for millions of unemployed and underemployed young Australians. @unionsaustralia Click To Tweet

A national Training for Reconstruction program through a nationwide, free TAFE program supporting 150,000 places would be a game-changer for millions of unemployed and underemployed young Australians.

National Reconstruction Investment Plan

Our plan is to commit 6.5% of GDP to infrastructure and new capital projects for the next decade.

It’s the smartest investment any government can make.

 It would create tens of thousands of well paid, secure jobs, in areas like transportation, public housing, environmental management and sustainable energy upgrades, whilst leaving a valuable legacy for future Australians to enjoy.

A sustainable manufacturing Industry

The pandemic has exposed Australia’s vulnerability as a customer at the end of vulnerable supply chains. We need to start making stuff again. Rebuilding our local manufacturing base is essential.

Rebuilding our local manufacturing base is essential to economic recovery. Let's start making stuff again! @unionsaustralia Click To Tweet

Our Sustainable Manufacturing Strategy would create new rules to ensure governments prioritise Australian made products in all new infrastructure and public services.

Providing zero interest rate loans for new renewable energy developments with a direct link to manufacturing and creating a Superpower Investment Fund to undertake co-investments in new, smart tech and sustainable industries form part of our approach.

Want to support our vision for a better Australia?

Date Published: 18/03/2021 Category: On The Job

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