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Tag Archives: Heather Ridout

July 1, 2009 – 9:49AM

Activity in the manufacturing sector continued to decline in June, although the pace of easing slowed, a survey showed.

The Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Performance of Manufacturing Index rose by 0.9 index points in June to 38.4 points, seasonally adjusted.

June marked the 13th consecutive month that the index was below the 50-point level, indicating contraction in activity.

AiGroup chief executive Heather Ridout said on Wednesday some sectors had benefited from the federal government’s fiscal stimulus packages, lower interest rates and a lift in consumer confidence during June.

“While the slowing in declines in manufacturing inventories, employment and deliveries is encouraging, the continued weakness in new orders and production raises doubts as to whether this trend will be sustained,” Ms Ridout said in a statement.

“There will need to be an improvement across all sectors in the months ahead, particularly automotive, transport and construction industries which reported weakness and impeded manufacturing production in June.”

In the survey of more than 500 companies, four of the 12 sectors – machinery and equipment, textiles, basic metal products and fabricated metal products – recorded easing in the decline of activity.

Two sectors, food and beverages, and clothing and footwear, reported increases in activity during June, reflecting the effects of the federal government’s second stimulus package and generational-low interest rates, the report said.

New orders remained weak, while employment, deliveries and inventories declined at a slower rate.

PricewaterhouseCoopers global leader of industrial manufacturing, Graeme Billings, said weak markets were placing pressure on the ability of firms to manage costs and maintain profit levels.

“The weakness in manufacturers’ markets illustrated by continued declines in new orders puts further pressure on profit margins as prices continue to fall at the same time as input prices and wages growth remain stable,” Mr Billings said.

“This only re-emphasises the need for firms to continue to focus on ensuring cash flow through such strategies as reducing unit costs through inventory and supply chain management and managing debtors and creditors effectively,” Mr Billings said.

Ewin Hannan | April 07, 2009
Article from: The Australian

EMPLOYERS claim to have extracted key concessions they believe will reduce many costs associated with the revamp of the nation’s award system.

The Australian Industry Group said last night a decision by the full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission had addressed many concerns about the proposed “modernisation” of awards.

AIGroup chief executive Heather Ridout said business had been concerned the award revamp would result in big cost increases for employers. But 27 new awards and two amended modern awards, released by the commission, contain changes business believes will benefit companies.

Under the revamped clerical award, higher-paid employees will be excluded from most award provisions. It also contains separate flexible and cost-competitive conditions for in-house call centres.

The new banking, finance and insurance award includes lower penalty rates and more provisions on flexible hours for employees of call centres.

A modern contract call centre industry award has been made with flexible and cost-competitive conditions rather than contract call centre companies being forced to apply the modern awards of their clients, as originally proposed.

Ms Ridout said the revamped modern graphic arts award had not been extended to cover the industries of web design and development, as sought by the unions.

She said separate awards had been made for general transport, long-distance operations and the cash-in-transit industry, which did not incorporate the union’s “costly wage proposals”.

“Award modernisation is a massive and extremely complex task, with very tight timeframes,” Ms Ridout said.

She commended the commission’s consultations.