January 20, 2009 12:00am
KEVIN Rudd has called on workers to sacrifice pay rises and employers to resist job cuts to save Australia from the global financial crisis. Evoking the great tradition of Australian mateship, he said unprecedented national unity was required.
"We are all in this together: business, unions, governments, the community sector and every nation in the world," he said last night. Do you agree with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that workers should not seek pay rises? Tell us in the comments below
"In these times, employers must do their utmost to protect their workers from dismissal, knowing that these workers will serve them well when times turn good again.
"Workers, too, must restrain any wage claims."
Unions recently flagged pay claims of up to 33 per cent, saying workers were entitled to "catch-up" rises after a decade of Coalition government.
Amid warnings a recession was inevitable, Mr Rudd said he would make a series of national addresses on the economy in the next week.
The move suggests a second Government stimulus package is now all but inevitable.
The Government's first stimulus package released $10.4 billion into the economy.
The second is likely to be even bigger as the Government does "whatever it takes" to try to get the country through the crisis.
In an Australia Day reception at Kirribilli House last night, Mr Rudd said saving jobs was the biggest challenge.
"I know there are employers who have asked their workers to accept shorter working hours rather than lose their jobs," the PM said.
"That encourages me, because at this time Australians need to look out for each other -- as we have done so many times in the past when the going has got tough.
"Right now, it's jobs that matter most because the global financial crisis has been the destroyer of jobs."
Mr Rudd said he was particularly concerned by the slump in China's economy, where growth has plunged from 12 per cent in 2007 to 8.5 per cent last year.
The future of the Asian powerhouse, which takes 15 per cent of Australia's exports, was closely tied to that of Australia.
The Prime Minister blamed corporate cowboys and lax regulation for the current financial mess.
"A culture of excessive risk taking - a culture of greed - a culture of excess, has brought massive economic disruption to global financial markets and the global economy," he said.