A NEW lobby group to protect local jobs has been floated in Warrnambool in the lead-up to the federal election.
Unionists from the South West Trades and Labour Council held a meeting this week to field interest in the group, which would fight primarily for retail and manufacturing jobs.
The organisation would be closely modelled on the Portland-based Save Local Jobs, which was formed in response to jobs threats at wind turbine maker Keppel Prince and includes factory workers, farmers and a Glenelg Shire councillor.
Australian Manufacturers Workers Union organiser Mark Solly said the trades and labour council hoped the group would “stand alone” and not be an extra arm of the unions.
“The intention is to be a community-based group,” Mr Solly said.
“Businesses are closing and people are cutting back their hours. The idea is that it will influence politicians.”
The group could join the ranks of Farmer Power, which is fighting for the dairy industry.
Campaigners for both agriculture and the manufacturing industry have periodically expressed support for the reintroduction of tariffs and a return to regulations, with the high Australian dollar undercutting profits.
“One of our major concerns is the high Australian dollar,” he said.
“One of the group will be from the local dairy industry.”
Warrnambool district activist Gary Lucas has put his name down as a founding member.
Mr Lucas said he had watched the collapse of the manufacturing industry in Warrnambool over his lifetime and wanted to safeguard local industries still in place.