||Issue No. 316||21 July 2006|
Interview: The Month Of Living Dangerously
Unions: Staying Mum
Economics: Precious Metals
Industrial: The Cold 100
History: The Vinegar Hill Mob
Legal: Free Agents
Politics: Under The Influence
International: How Swede It Was
Review: Keating's Men Slam Dance on Howard
The Locker Room
Sick of Ants
Praise from Belly
Union Backs Man of Steel
Adams broke ranks with big business colleagues to lash John Howard's move for a free trade agreement with low-wage colossus, China.
The intervention has been welcomed by AMWU National Secretary, Doug Cameron, who said business and unions should work together to protect Australian jobs and communities.
"We don't agree with Kirby Adams on everything but free trade agreements highlight how this government puts ideology ahead of people," Cameron said.
"It is anti-worker and anti-community to force us into direct competition with a low-wage giant that refuses to comply with basic labour standards and has an appalling safety record.
"What Australia should be doing is investing in skills, and research and development, so we have a high skill, high wage manufacturing sector.
"The AMWU will work with other parties who share that goal."
Cameron said his union had demonstrated its bona fides by driving the establishment of manufacturing councils, involving unions, employers and governments, at state level.
However, he said, the federal government had refused to participate, preferring to leave the sector to the vagaries of the market.
"That's not government," he said. "That's stupidity".
Adams, whose company made 250 Wollongong workers redundant last month, said Australia was caught in a "fantasy" it could lead the world to a "free trade nirvana" by unilaterally dropping tariffs while the rest of the world laughed at it.
"There are massive costs for Australia's manufacturers and for the millions of men and women employed by them," he told a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce, last week.
The AMWU has commissioned an academic report on the state of Australian manufacturing, from the National Institute of Economics and Industry Research.
It will be unveiled at this week's national conference in Sydney.
Cameron said it would form the basis for a fightback strategy to be decided by conference delegates.
"Our delegates will take the lead in developing concrete alternatives to the Howard Government model that is costing Australians jobs and opportunities," he said.
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