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The United Workers Union is cautiously welcoming today’s Federal Government announcement of a new mRNA manufacturing facility which will be built in Melbourne.

The union has been calling on the Federal Government to commit to protecting and creating advanced manufacturing jobs for the better part of a decade.

Next year the GSK plant in Melbourne is slated to close its doors, while Pfizer has said it will shut up shop at its Perth factory in 2023. As a result, more than 800 advanced manufacturing workers will be out of a job.

Last week, a worker from each of the factories appeared in a Senate Inquiry warning that the loss of jobs and skills would have a negative impact on their families and the wider Australian community.

UWU Allied director Godfrey Moase said the union was looking forward to the 500 jobs that will be created in manufacturing down the track but that it was too little too late for the workers who will be leaving the industry next year.

“The Morrison Government said it would build a mRNA manufacturing facility more than a year ago and we are only getting the detail in the lead up to a Federal election? It’s all very convenient,” Mr Moase said.

“In the meantime, we have two existing pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities that are winding down.

“Today’s announcement is great, but it won’t substitute for a national mission to lift Australia out of last place in the OECD rankings of manufacturing self-sufficiency.

“As Australia begins to open-up, there is a huge opportunity to rebuild manufacturing, particularly in pharmaceuticals, where even small increases in capacity would be of huge benefit to the economy and the community.

“We must not squander the opportunity to create good, secure and better jobs as we emerge out of the worst of the pandemic.”

Research has shown that if Australia was to produce as much manufactured output as it consumes, that the benefits would be substantial, including the generation of around half-a-million jobs.

More information on last week’s Senate Inquiry committee can be found here. To read UWU’s submission in full, click here.


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