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With Ford to end manufacturing operations in Australia by 2016, Adecco Chief Executive Patrick De Maeseneire has stated that the country needed to maintain industrial and manufacturing jobs to keep unskilled youth involved in the economy. The best way to accomplish that would be to remove the minimum wage, he argued.
“We have to dare to get away from minimum wages and from the yearly increases because of inflation. We have to build a competitive workforce at a lower level just to get them started. A couple of years later they will be above that minimum, but let them start and build up their experience,” he said.
“You cannot have a service economy without an underlying industrial economy,” he added. “You dig that stuff out of the ground, ship it in big tankers and have it transformed in China into final products – or you could do that yourself and create a lot of added value for the country.”
His comments have not been well received by the national vice president of the Australian Workers Union, Stephen Bali. Citing Australia’s high cost of living Mr Bali called for more permanent jobs and more affordable training and apprenticeships for younger employees: “You don’t need cheap wages. Even if you halve the wages in Australia, would it save one job? No,” he said.
The unemployment rate in Australia for 15 to 19-year-olds was 15.8% in April 2013, and 11.7% for those between 15 and 24 years. This compares to an overall jobless rate of 5.5% in April. With Ford closing operations by 2016, a further 1,200 jobs are expected to be lost.