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Unions welcome focus on redeploying workers into critical industries

Queensland Unions have welcomed the State Government’s focus on redirecting jobless workers into areas impacted by labour shortages due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Palaszczuk government has today announced that $500M of a total $2.5B coronavirus response package will go towards redirecting jobless workers into areas impacted by labour shortages due to the impact of COVID-19.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Michael Clifford said the funding would help displaced workers find jobs in the coronavirus-critical industries of health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning and mining.

“We think it’s important to keep people more connected to employment and encouraging people into employment, particularly in areas where they are desperately needed.

“We see the scheme primarily acting to match workers with jobs and provide retraining to get people into jobs where there are worker shortages.

“Unions will be working closely with government and industry in making sure the scheme is working properly as it is rolled out,” he said.

Significant payroll tax concessions for small and medium sized business make up the bulk of the multi-billion dollar package.

“Workers also need immediate direct assistance to deal with the economic shock of COVID-19,” he said.

“Unions support governments providing support to employers but want that support to be closely tied to commitments to retain people in employment”.

Boris Johnson’s announcement that the British government will provide a wage subsidy of 80 per cent of the wages of British workers if employers keep them in their job underlines that keeping people employed is both a financial imperative and a public health necessity.

“Unions support the relief provided to workers through the state Government package, and the increase in job seeker payments provided by the Morrison Government, although there are now hundreds of thousands of workers without jobs as of yesterday, and waiting five weeks for increased job seeker payments to kick in will place unacceptable pressure on so many. These payments need to be brought forward so people can put food on the table.”