The Victorian Coalition Government today sought to intervene at Fair Work Australia to bring an immediate end to industrial action that is threatening to cripple the automotive manufacturing sector in this state.
Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations Richard Dalla-Riva said the Victorian Coalition Government would be taking steps to protect jobs and investment by supporting an application to Fair Work Australia by a components manufacturer, aiDAIR Industries, to end a dispute jeopardising supply of components to car manufacturers.
"The ripple effect of shutting down supply of parts to other companies across the supply chain will be disruptive in the extreme," Mr Dalla-Riva said.
"Unless dealt with decisively, this dispute could see the production lines at Holden and Ford grind to a halt by as early as next week.
"This alone could lead to stand-downs for up to 4,000 workers, and cost these companies tens of millions of dollars for each day of lost production. If production shuts down across the system, it will affect hundreds of businesses, and put at risk the livelihoods of many thousands of workers."
Mr Dalla-Riva said the tactics adopted by the Australian Workers' Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union were irresponsible.
"I hear a lot of union officials talking a lot about job security in the industry. Yet here we have two unions threatening to hold to ransom not only the big car makers but much of the supply chain, and the thousands of Victorians working in the sector" Mr Dalla-Riva said.
Mr Dalla-Riva said the strike could not have come at a worse time for the local industry.
"This is putting even greater stress on the Australian industry at a time when there is a squeeze in the global automotive industry on investment and jobs.
"Only this week, we announced a joint $35 million package with the Commonwealth aimed at helping secure a stronger future for companies working in the auto supply chain. We are also rolling out a $58 million manufacturing strategy to assist companies to become more globally competitive. But for every step forward that we take, the unions seem intent on taking the industry two steps back."
Mr Dalla-Riva called on the Gillard Government to stand up to the unions, and intervene to support action by industry and the Victorian Coalition Government to end the dispute.
"The Prime Minister likes to pretend her workplace relations laws are working well. In fact, this dispute is further evidence of failure. Why is it necessary for manufacturers and a Coalition Government to have to apply to Fair Work Australia to prevent an industry meltdown?"
"The Federal minister has the power to end this dispute at the stroke of a pen. Mr Shorten may be a former union chief at the AWU, but his responsibility is to the Australian people, not to his former union. Mr Shorten cannot just sit on his hands. He has the power available to him to order the termination of this dispute, and he should do so immediately," Mr Dalla-Riva said.
Mr Dalla-Riva said a secure future for the car industry in Australia depended on the sector becoming more productive and globally competitive. "This cannot happen if union officials claim for themselves the right to bring the system to a screeching halt," Mr Dalla-Riva said.
"I call on Mr Shorten to acknowledge what is at stake, and join in action to stop this delinquent union behaviour before the damage is irreversible."