THE TEXTILE, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) workers’ union is calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver on his promise to protect lives and livelihoods by ensuring Australian manufacturing workers are deployed to produce critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Australian Governments.
Local manufacturers have indicated to the union that they can save jobs by immediately transitioning their production away from clothes to in-demand products like surgical gowns, face masks, clinical waste bags and waste bag closure devices which the Commonwealth is seeking.
The Commonwealth’s Department of Industry put out a Request For Information about Australian industry’s capability to supply these products ten days ago and Australian industry is ready to commence production now.
“In order for jobs to be saved, all the government needs to do is provide local manufacturers the specifications and orders and production can immediately start,” said TCF sector secretary of the manufacturing division of the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union, Jenny Kruschel.
“Using existing TCF supply chains, capabilities, skills and manufacturers’ expertise is the most efficient and effective way to deliver these vital supplies, allowing medical professionals to get on with their jobs and if done right it will save jobs,” Ms Kruschel said.
“It should be a no brainer and we are hoping common sense will prevail and these businesses and workers will be given the opportunity to deliver these orders.”
The union has been in contact with the Commonwealth and several State Governments to try to confirm their growing requirements for medical supplies and PPE.
With orders from retailers being cancelled, thousands of TCF manufacturing workers have already been stood down, had their hours slashed or been made redundant, but several manufacturers are holding out hope for a fair go in the medical supplies’ contracts.
“Manufacturers are holding on for dear life and holding out hope that the right thing will be done by them and the workforce,” Ms Kruschel said.
“But we need action now, the prompt supply of these protective items isn’t just critical to the health effort, it is vital to saving local manufacturing jobs.
"The union will leave no stone unturned to protect the jobs of our members whilst ensuring the efficient delivery of vital medical supplies to front line medical professionals, hospitals and clinics.
“Workers in the industry are ready to play their part by using their skills to ensure the vital supply of quality products, they just need to be provided the chance."