ACTU Call For Investment In Jobs And Infrastructure

ACTU calls for multi billion dollar workers super investment in national infrastructure and govt regulation of casual work.

For the first time in Australia's history, fewer than 50 per cent of the workforce is classified as being in permanent full-time employment and the wages share of national income was now at its lowest point since December 1964.

At her speech to the National Press Club in Canberra this week, ACTU President Ged Kearney called for national regulation of casual work requiring companies to make employees permanent after six months, investment of workers $1 trillion super savings in national infrastructure and a tripartite body of unions, industry and government to ensure more equitable sharing of economic growth.

The ACTU President voiced concern that while labour costs were at their lowest on record and executive salaries had reached 'dizzying new heights'.

"The Fair Work Act itself is an unfinished canvas for the union movement. We continue to fail to comply with International Labour Organisation Conventions -

conventions to which we as a country are a party," she said.  "For example, workers in this country do not have the right to take legal industrial action in respect to general industrial, social and economic issues."

Other issues covered in the national address included more flexible work so employees could balance family and carers roles with work and a call for government to reward ethical companies when assessing tenders.

Ged Kearney also showed concern for Labor policy on refugee policy and climate change.  She said while unions would retain their traditional ties with Labor they would reach beyond to Greens and independents for a more progressive political agenda.

For the first time in two decades union membership and density is on the rise, with unions now speaking and acting for almost two million Australians and their families.

"We have over 120,000 volunteer workplace representatives and half of all Australians work for an employer where there is a union presence," she said. 

ABS data shows we have more than 1.8 million members and that across the workforce,

union members earn on average $145 a week more than non-members.

Ged Kearney said the ACTU would be commissioning the biggest ever survey of union members in the Australian workplace.  

The MUA has long advocated the ACTU policy on workers retirement savings being invested in national infrastructure, which must include shipping and ports.  

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin is a member of the ACTU executive.