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  • Jul, 2012


    Howes On Industry Planning

    Paul Howes speaks today on industrial strategy at the Queensland Media Club at 1.20pm. Here is an excerpt of the speech to be given obtained exclusively by the Broadside Blog.

    Tonight, of course, is the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

    I’m sure that many of us will be having some late nights over the next three weeks watching our Aussie athletes go for gold.

    After the Tour de France, it’s probably the last thing our sleep-deprived nation needs.

    But while your enjoying the Games, and barracking for Mitchell Watt and Sally Pearson, think about this:

    Australia’s Olympic Games campaign is actually a classic example of how Australia can do industry planning really well.

    We set national objectives – like finishing in the top five of the medal count.

    We pick winners – focusing on areas where we have a competitive strength, like swimming.

    We invest in R & D – engaging the best sports scientists, and supporting our elite athletes through the Australian Institute of Sport.

    We even build an elite training centre in Northern Italy, with all be best high-tech equipment – so our athletes can have a European base during the Australian winter

    We don’t question the need for public investment in our Olympic effort – we accept that it’s necessary for success.

    In sport, Australians play to win, and we don’t apologise for being successful.

    Yet when it comes to our income and job-generating industries, we expect them to stand or fall on their own two feet.

    Well, the AWU doesn’t want to see Australian industry lose.

    We want Australian industry to be winning gold medals, not just digging them up.

  • Jul, 2012

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    Sneaky, Sneaky: The Caltex Way of Treating Workers

    To the long list of sneaky and dishonorable ways of doing business in the corporate world, we can now add Caltex. You may remember that the Australian Workers Union was trying to engage the Woolworth’s-Caltex partnership in a dialogue about the future of the Kurnell refinery in Sydney. And, then, boom, the axe comes down and, poof, 630 people will lose their jobs in a bolt from the blue announcement this morning.

    Per the Sydney Morning Herald today:

    Petroleum company Caltex will close its Kurnell refinery in Sydney in a move that will cost up to 630 jobs, with unions claiming the announcement is a “kick in the guts” to Australian motorists.

    Caltex said the refinery would be closed in the second half of 2014 and would be converted to a “major import terminal” to supply imported fuel for Australian customers. The closure would eliminate about 330 direct positions, and as many as 300 contracting jobs.

    It isn’t just the refinery that smells here. It’s the whole disregard for the community, per the AWU:

    “It’s the first we heard of the announcement,” the spokesman said.

    “We knew [shutting the refinery] was an option and that the company was holding a review, but until today we were hopeful.”

    The spokesman said the AWU would be pressing Caltex for answers, and would hold a noon press conference at the Kurnell refinery. He believed the consultation had been “very limited” and said the figure of about 800 jobs at risk was accurate. [emphasis added]

    Skilled trades workers — 300 permanent workers and many more casuals and contractors — will be hit as well, as we learn from Tim Ayers, state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who sent the Broadside Blog these comments:

    “These are highly skilled workers. Today’s announcement is a blow to them. It will also have knock-on effects for industry supply chains across NSW and undermine prospects for the next generation of skilled blue collar workers in NSW.

    During the O’Farrell Government’s short term in office, Sydney has lost both its major refineries, hitting jobs and leaving the state dependent on imported refined oil products.

    Barry O’Farrell has not lifted a finger to ensure jobs and production capacity were maintained at Sydney’s Kurnell and Clyde refineries,

    This government appears to have no plan for supporting local jobs and industry.

    The company basically decided this, on its own, workers and communities be damned.
    We’ll keep people updated on the developments, especially from today’s presser.