The AWU is calling on Labor MPs, Senators and Labor Premiers to get actively behind the AWU New Steel Plan and has put a priority on stopping steel being dumped on the Australian market, at unfair prices.
The union’s leader, Paul Howes, has sent a letter to all Labor politicians outlining the union’s campaign to defend our vital, strategic economic interests.
He has urged MPs and Senators to immediately consider overhauling Australia’s poor implementation of antidumping rights, safeguards and the application of countervailing duties already available to us under the WTO.
“This project is well overdue. The AWU in our New Steel Plan is recommending a number of changes to the anti-dumping policy regime, which will sharply speed up action against dumped products in the Australian market,” Paul Howes explained.
The AWU is arguing for a strong preference for Australian steel in procurement arrangements as part of any new government stimulus package, in response to the global financial crisis.
This would provide a deeper impact for the domestic economy, and as practical acknowledgment of Australia’s competitiveness as a world class steel producer.
“Because of the global financial crisis the short term outlook for steel production in Australia is poor. Since the final quarter of 2008, demand for steel has fallen rapidly. If left unaddressed, subsidised, surplus production from other countries will deliver a double blow to our local industries,” Paul Howes explains in his letter to politicians.
“As a consequence, the future viability of the local industry hangs in the balance and with it the employment prospects for thousands of my members and the financial security of their families and communities. Every 1000 tonnes of lost steel production results in the loss of 60 direct and indirect jobs. I am therefore focused on ensuring the progress we have made in restructuring the industry as a viable .”
In the past few weeks Paul Howes has met with industry, AWU members and held discussions with many Labor MPs and Senators represented Steel Communities, as well as members of the Cabinet, on elements of the AWU New Steel Plan which addresses the threats facing steel and offers hope for our workers.
The AWU’s 10-Point Plan – a New Steel Plan for the 21st Century – has two main aims:
1. Immediately stimulating domestic demand including through investing in Nation Building infrastructure projects in time for support in the 2009-10 Budget;
2. Getting serious in dealing with the reality of subsided product from other countries contaminating steel markets such that competitive and quality Australian product is unable to compete here and abroad.
Howes, has told the Labor politicians that he would welcome their support for the AWU New Steel Plan and said following the Canberra launch he has now started a regional tour of steel centres to meet with workers and explain the union strategy to defend their industry and secure their future.
To access the 30-page New Steel Plan go to www.awu.net.au/awu_steel_plan_april_final__2__3.pdf.