As tens of thousands of workers around the nation took to the streets yesterday to stand up for their rights at work, new national accounts figures proved that the Government must urgently change its direction.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said the Abbott Government’s destructive agenda of savage cuts must be abandoned in favour of support for incomes, wages growth and investment in jobs and skills.
“The national accounts show our economy is weak which is putting Australians out of work,” Mr Oliver said.
“Tens of thousands of workers sent the Liberal Government a clear message (yesterday) – stop with the cuts and start investing more, promoting growth and creating jobs,” Mr Oliver said.
“Australians do not want a Government that cuts wages, cuts penalty rates and slashes health and education.
“We will not stand by while Abbott and Hockey send jobs offshore and destroy the rights and protections the union movement and working Australians have built up over generations.”
Rallies included Melbourne, Mildura, Sydney, Newcastle, Broken Hill, Lismore Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Townsville, Mackay, Hobart, Launceston, Darwin and Tennant Creek.
MUA Victorian Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken took to the podium in front of an estimated 50,000 in Melbourne lamenting the demise of the manufacturing industry.
"We have to do something now before manufacturing disappears from this country altogether," Bracken said.
"The knock-on effects of the manufacturing demise has taken a huge toll on Australian shipping. We'll be lucky to have any Australian-flagged ships left at this rate, which will mean we'll be totally dependent on foreign-controlled interests for things like fuel, steel and concrete. Undoubtedly leaving Australia in a vulnerable position."
He also spoke about the general attack on penalty rates and the minimum wage.
"Once upon a time, the minimum wage was a living wage and that's not the case. More and more working people are doing it tough in this country, while the richest one per cent get richer and richer," he said.
“The Business Council of Australia says Australian wages are too high and if they are talking about the top 10 CEOs they are right and we agree. They receive between $10-20m dollars per year. Instead they are talking about the 1.5 million Australian who survive on a minimum wage – these are the wages they want to reduce!”
“We want a government who wants to build our industries not destroy them. We want people who are working un-sociable hours to be compensated for this and we want working people to be able to live with dignity, we don't want a working poor.”
For all of the pictures from around the country, click here.
Yesterday's national accounts showed:
· The Australian economy (real GDP) grew by just 2.5% in 2014, & only 0.5% in the December quarter (seasonally adjusted).
· Labour productivity growth was solid in 2014, with GDP per hour worked rising by 1.6%. Labour productivity has grown by an average of 1.5% per year during the Fair Work period, compared to 1.1% a year during Work Choices.
· The terms of trade continue to plummet, falling by 10.8% over the year.
· Real net national disposable income per capita, fell by 0.9% over the year.