BlueScope Steel job losses are an indication of bad times ahead

The news that BlueScope Steel is laying off 170 employees and contractors came as a shock to many when it was announced. As a reminder of how bad this is, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that about 1500 people have previously lost their jobs at BlueScope.

However, Australians should not be surprised at the situation, as our country continues to lose thousands of jobs every year, as part of the ongoing destruction of our manufacturing industries. The situation for our people’s future employment prospects looks worse and worse.

The fact is that there would be a bigger marketplace for steel products in Australia (which would mean more jobs for workers at BlueScope Steel and other companies) if our nation’s tariff barriers had not been decimated by successive Liberal and Labor governments.

Sensible and moderate tariff barriers can protect a country’s industries from Third World imports. The importation of steel products made overseas in countries which employ cheap labour means that our local jobs are being undercut and our economy is being undermined.

Under the current system, Australia digs up metals and minerals, sends the raw materials overseas, and then buys back the same materials at ten times the price, in the form of finished products, rather than making the goods here in the first place and employing our own people.

There are many Third World countries where wages are a pittance, where workplace safety practices are atrocious, and where decent working conditions are lacking. How are Australian workers meant to compete with cheap foreign labour, unless they take on the same atrocious conditions themselves? How are our factories meant to compete, when the federal government destroys the very tariff barriers meant to protect them?

Not only are we losing manufacturing industries, and the expertise necessary to keep such industries alive, but the loss of those jobs also means the loss of the many on-flow jobs that are sustained by the money that the manufacturing sector creates.

Some economists say that when Australians lose jobs in manufacturing industries, they will just pick up jobs in other areas. That is all very well for them to say, but what sort of jobs are being created? Many of these touted new jobs are in service industries; but what is of more benefit to Australia, a job making steel products or one serving hamburgers at McDonalds?

What is also forgotten is the long-term impact that losing our manufacturing industries will have upon our future national sovereignty and independence.

Nor should we forget the social impact of the economists’ shell game; for them, it may be just a game of deftly moving economic units around the world faster than the eye can see, but for the towns and cities that lose hundreds or thousands of jobs, it can mean widespread social and economic displacement, even leading to generations of poverty and unemployment.

The long-term effects of the damage done to our manufacturing industries by Liberal-Labor is enormous and will take generations to re-build – a process which won’t start until we have a decent patriotic government in Canberra, but don’t hold your breath for that, because neither major party is willing to put protectionist policies in place to protect the future of our nation’s economy.

It’s time for some sensible solutions to stop the downward spiral of Australia’s manufacturing industries. To paraphrase Ross Perot, that giant sucking noise you can hear is the sound of thousands upon thousands of Australian jobs being sucked into Third World countries.

The fact is that the personal job prospects of hundreds of thousands of Australians will continue to suffer, just as our social fabric and national economic prospects will continue to suffer, until a protectionist government is put in place.

BlueScope Steel Hastings jobs axed”, Peninsula Weekly, 16 January 2013, (Samantha Robin)
Hastings to lose 170 BlueScope Steel jobs”, Herald Sun, 15 January 2013 (Alex White)
More jobs to go in BlueScope cull”, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 January 2013 (Clay Lucas, Glenda Kwek)

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