Following Ford Australia's announcement that it will shed 440 jobs at its Broadmeadows and Geelong plants, unions are committed to working closely with the company and other carmakers to ensure Australia continues to have a strong motor vehicle industry, says the ACTU.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said unions were concerned about Ford's response to changing market conditions through more job cuts and would seek to ensure the company consulted fully with its workers before implementing its plan.
He said unions would seek to minimise the impact of the company's planned job losses on workers and local communities, and to ensure management seeks genuine voluntary redundancies before instigating compulsory dismissals.
But it was disappointing that today's decision was announced with no prior notice to unions or the government.
"This announcement by Ford today is distressing for the entire workforce," Mr Oliver said.
"The domestic motor vehicle industry is experiencing a downturn but it is up to companies to be responsible in managing change. Workers must not be made scapegoats for poor management decisions.
"Ford workers are paying the price for their management's over-reliance on the domestic market and lack of a comprehensive export strategy. It is also up to government to make sure that free trade agreements do not prevent companies like Ford from getting access to foreign markets.
"It is important for the diverse economic base that workers rely on for Australia to remain a country with a strong automotive industry and Ford is a crucial part of that.
"Ford makes good products, employing thousands of Australians directly, and many more indirectly in the supply chain.
"Ford has said today that it is committed to producing cars in Australia, but it must also recognise the important role it plays in communities like Broadmeadows and Geelong and be responsible in managing its operations in those communities through periods of change.
"Consumers, business and government need to back the Australian car industry. Australians support government co-investment to ensure manufacturing is sustainable, but more assistance could come from government and corporate fleet procurement of locally-made cars to support the domestic industry.
"Manufacturing employs a million people in Australia. It is essential Australia continues to have a sustainable and diverse economy with an innovative manufacturing sector playing its part."
Mr Oliver said that although parts of the economy were going through tough times, employers should act responsibly and not slash jobs when there are other options.