Food industry, AMWU applaud Keneally for thinking of manufacturing

A new Union campaign encouraging the Federal Government to have a greater focus on manufacturing industries and local jobs has been applauded by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The AFGC is the peak body representing food and beverage manufacturing in Australia. This is Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, employing 288,000 people.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) this week launched a national advertising campaign called Manufacturing: Australia’s Future to highlight the importance of Australian manufacturing and jobs, especially in rural and regional Australia.

AMWU’s national secretary, Dave Oliver, is calling for the Labor government to ‘put manufacturing back on the agenda’ in the lead-up to the NSW state election this weekend.

The AMWU has received support from the Keneally Government to help make Hunter Valley businesses more environmentally-friendly, to lessen the damage caused by Gillard’s proposed carbon tax.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the food and grocery manufacturing industry shared the AMWU’s serious concerns about the future of manufacturing, especially in the wake of the “perfect storm” facing food and grocery manufacturers in Australia.

“Industry is under intense pressure from rising input costs such as energy, wages and water, higher transport costs, record high global commodity prices and supermarkets forcing down retail prices which is seriously affecting supplier margins,” Carnell said.

“Making matters worse is the high Australian dollar making imports cheaper.  The final nail in the coffin is a proposed tax on carbon that will further undermine the competitiveness of Australian manufactured goods unless offshore competitors are subject to the same costs.

“If manufacturers can’t remain viable in Australia, there’s a danger they could shutdown or move offshore.  This puts serious pressure on many rural communities that rely on the thousands of jobs and flow-on benefits created by food and grocery manufacturers.

“Industry supports calls for Government to have a greater focus on manufacturing, especially as Australia’s food and grocery industry is worth more than $102 billion annually, accounts for 9 per cent of Australia’s international trade valued at $449 billion (2008-09) and employs 288,000 people, including more than 140,000 in rural and region Australia.”

Carnell said industry also backed the union’s campaign slogan: Tell your MP to make sure Australia keeps making things.  

“Australians want a robust local food production and a value-adding processing sector – they don’t want to be increasingly reliant on cheap imports for our food supply,” Carnell said. 

“Having a thriving, prosperous food and grocery industry will contribute many benefits to Australia’s economy including increased job opportunities, especially in rural and regional areas and a sustainable, nutritious, affordable and safe food supply into the future.”

Image courtesy of Zimbio.com

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