Industrial relations is expected to dominate the agenda at the ALP conference today, with unions likely to use their lunchtime forum to air grievances with Labor’s workplace policies.
A group of unionists will march to Sydney’s Convention Centre, where the conference is being held, in opposition to the government’s plan to allow the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to retain some of its Howard-era powers.
Unions are also expected to use the conference to urge the Labor government to do more to protect jobs.
The ACTU put out a statement on the first day of the conference saying providing a safety net for workers during the global financial crisis was one of its key priorities.
The statement comes as the mining and construction union warns of major job losses in the coming years.
A report by Access Economics, commissioned by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), says the building industry can expect a sharp decline in output over the next three years.
The report also warns the sector may face more than 80,000 job losses over the same period, and a decline in the number of apprentices entering the industry.
CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan released a statement saying the report showed a bleak outlook for the industry.
“While the Prime Minister’s announcement at National Conference yesterday on the creation of long-term green jobs is welcomed, this report shows urgent and immediate action is needed in the construction industry,” Mr Noonan says.
“Construction workers will be looking to the Rudd Government to develop plans that safeguard jobs in this industry and minimise what is shaping up as a disastrous three years.”