Media Release 27 March 2020

Joint statement from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Victorian Trades Hall Council

The two largest bodies representing working people and business in Victoria have joined forces to seek urgent additional support for working people and businesses across the state and have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) are calling on the Federal Government to ensure wage continuity through a wage subsidy guarantee program, to help stop working people being stood down, made redundant and unemployed.

We acknowledge the work of the Morrison Government to date, including the additional welfare payments. However, welfare alone risks entrenching unemployment, leaves workers queuing around the block, Centrelink inundated, and does not arm businesses to rebound quickly.

Thousands of jobs have been lost in the hospitality, retail, aviation, entertainment and tourism industries. The next wave of job losses is already underway in manufacturing, professional services and education as demand falls and global supply chains are severely disrupted.

We call on the Morrison Government to urgently establish a scheme to protect working people and business through a wage subsidy guarantee program. Under this model, payments could go to business via PAYG, state revenue offices or other existing mechanisms. Business receiving these funds would do so with the agreement they pay and retain workers. Similar schemes have been adopted in the UK, Ireland and Denmark to support businesses to keep their workforce on the job and receiving an income.

Backing employers to keep paying their workers means working people can keep their entitlements and maintain connection to their workplace during a disruptive time. This leaves working people better placed to retain skills to keep business alive and the economy able to recover quicker.

We want working people in Victoria to maintain some normality and business to bounce back and be strong on the other side of this crisis.

We are concerned about the devastating impact of potentially months of unemployment on the mental health of workers, and how it may affect their re-entry into the workforce. For some, unemployment as a result of Covid-19 may be permanent.

Following this crisis, recovery will be almost impossible with a disconnected workforce who have been cut off from their employers, colleagues and their normal working lives for months.

There should be no net cost to the federal budget from adopting this alternate approach to welfare. Longer term costs associated with job seeking, and the social stigma and mental health challenges associated with unemployment can be avoided.

The scale of the coronavirus crisis is alarming. We live in unprecedented times that requires bi-partisanship, lateral thinking and speedy action. We are ready to work with the Federal Government for a better outcome for Victorians and Australians.

Media Contact

All media enquiries may be directed to the Media and Communications Manager

03 8662 5310

0423 883 945

media@victorianchamber.com.au

For all other enquiries please contact the Victorian Chamber on 03 8662 5333

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