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The Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) will take its case to Canberra todaycalling on the federal Government to reverse last week’s decision to slash $7 mill from a targeted program for retrenched workers in TCF industry, The dramatic cut in funding, made as part of the Mid Year Economic Statement, halves the financial assistance allocated under the TCF Structural Adjustment Program (TCF SAP) over the next 3 years.
The Union, along with redundant workers, is today lobbying the Federal Government in Parliament.
The Government’s rationale for the cut is to redirect $7.0 mill ‘to partially offset $9.5 Million it has recently granted the Australian Paper’s Maryvale Pulp and Paper Mill (located in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria). While the TCFUA supports the need to assist workers in struggling industries and their local communities, it is appalled at the Government’s logic which essentially trades off one group of low paid workers against another.
Ms Michele O’Neil, TCFUA National Secretary said “Retrenched workers in the TCF industry face multiple barriers to finding new jobs either in the TCF industry or in other industries. The TCF SAP program has been critical in providing targeted help to TCF workers in finding alternative work in a very tough manufacturing environment.”
Also in Canberra to protest the decision, Mr Linh, a tailor who, along with his wife, was recently retrenched, speaking about the importance of the program said “It was a very big shock for both of us when the company announced it was closing. My first thought was that neither of us have any income and we have a child that will be going to high school next year, a mortgage to pay, bills to pay and food to put on the table how will we survive. Thanks to TCF program and the union, I am now doing a bakery course. It’s what I always wanted to do and never had the opportunity because I could not afford the training course, which should get me a good job so I can support my family again”
The TCFUA has also highlighted the Government’s inconsistent policy which provides more beneficial assistance to retrenched auto workers over TCF workers. Workers accessing the Automotive Industry Structural Adjustment Program (AISAP) scheme are entitled to a higher ‘Employment Pathway Fund’(EPF) credit of $2,880 per worker (as against $1350 for workers under TCF SAP). The Government announced a $15.6 Million extension of AISAP in March 2012.
“Some workers apparently are more redundant than others; there is absolutely no policy rationale for this whatsoever” said Ms O’Neil. “TCF workers should be entitled to, the same level of service that’s available to those in the auto industry and should not have their program cut.”
“In the context of a projected 25% reduction of TCF jobs forecast over the next 5 years, the decision to cut $7m from TCF SAP is ill considered and should be immediately reversed. It unfairly punishes TCF workers who have lost their jobs and livelihoods through no fault of their own.”
For further information and comment please contact the TCFUA National Secretary, Michele O’Neil on 0419 338 853.