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  Issue No 106 Official Organ of LaborNet 10 August 2001  




.  LaborNET

.  Ask Neale

.  Tool of the Week

*  Interview: In Exile
Burmese's government in exile's Minister for Justice U Thein Oo talks about a struggle for democracy that has become a test of international solidarity.
*  Politics: A National Disgrace
Labor's IR spokesman Arch Bevis gives his take on the workers entitlements issue and its mismanagement by the Howard Government.
*  E-Change: 2.2 The Information Organisation
Peter Lewis and Michael Gadiel look at how network technologies will change the way organizations operate in the Information Age.
*  Media: The Fine Print
Mark Hebblewhite looks at how the major dailies handled the Tri-Star dispute and finds that the story really does depend on the telling.
*  Human Rights: A People Besieged
Labor MLC Janelle Saffin, an active supporter of the pro-Democracy movement in Burma, sets out the issues behind the ILO sanctions.
*  International: Postcard From Brazil
The CFMEU’s Phil Davey reports on a rural movement that puts our National Farmers Federation to shame.
*  History: Indonesia Calling
They needed no resolutions. Soldiers and workers who did not know one another moved together, the black ban started to reach out across the harbour from the noisy, smoke-filled room.
*  Solidarity: On the Frontline
Australian trade unionists are providing practical help for the Burmese through projects funded by APHEDA-Union Aid Abroad.
*  Satire: Skase 'Too Ill' to Fly Home for Burial
Spanish authorities have deemed Christopher Skase too ill to return to Australia for his own funeral.
*  Review: Living Silence
In these extracts from her new book, Christina Fink goes inside Burma to find a world where military repression is slowly crushing a people.

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Revealed: ABC Censors Industrial Reporting
An internal ABC memo has ordered news reporting staff to temper their coverage of industrial relations in the lead-up to the federal election, ignoring disputes that have no direct consumer impact.
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WorkCover Revisited – Public Sector Laws Rammed Through
The Carr Government is ramming through plans to deregulate public sector employment in line with the Howard-Reith model of workplace relations despite direct opposition from unions.
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Bras First in Burma Boycotts
Triumph bras manufactured in Burma have become the target of an internationally-sanctioned campaign against the military dictatorship and its use of slave labour.
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Tri Star Only the Start of Entitlements Push
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Howard’s Secret Anti-Worker Plans
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Direct Action to Increase Nurses' Worth
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High Court: Courier Was Employee
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Victory for Academic Freedom
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Put A Stop To Acoustic Shock
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Builders' Bucks: Payroll Tax Evasion Rife
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Tassie Workers Brew Up a Storm
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HIH Collapse Hits Arts Industry
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Labour for Hire Not Entitlements
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Rail Inquiry Into Treatment of Homeless
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ACTU Awards To Reward Union Excellence
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Activist Notebook
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Letters to the Editor
  • Botsman Goes Crosby

  • Left Right Out

  • Belly's Shout

  • Ode to the New Serfs

  • Editorial

    Why Burma Matters

    The people of Burma are the victims of injustice. Democratic leaders kept under house arrest or forced into exile, peasants forced to work as slaves on infrastructure projects for the state, minority groups brutally repressed.

    But what's so special about Burma? Look at the unionists being slaughtered in Colombia, the repression of the independence movement in West Sahara, the long hard road to restoration in East Timor - there's injustice everywhere. Right?

    What makes Burma different is that unprecedented international action has been initiated to right the situation. And unlike your normal international operations, it doesn't involve the use of guns and its been driven by the trade union movement.

    Through a concerted campaign over several years, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has managed to invoke powers rooted in international law that had been dormant since they were framed after the horror of World War One.

    After a long, drawn-out process the ICFTU has invoked never before used penal clauses through the International Labour Organisation over the military regime's use of slave labour. It calls on all member nations to review trading with the Burmese regime and cease doing so when this contributes to this ongoing abuse.

    If this mechanism works it could provide the foothold for what every labour activist, has been struggling for - a set of minimum standards that binds all the workers of the world, with the only criteria for protection being their humanity.

    We all want international solidarity. The point is that the laws are already on the ILO books: child labour, slave labour and the right to organiswe are core labour standards. If they are not respected, there are sanctions.

    It's not about sending in UN forces, its about consumers in the developed world - putting pressure on corporations doing business with rogue regimes that don't respect labour standards.

    If we are serious of creating meaningful global labour standards and ensuring that global trade is not undermined by the repression of workers we, as a global labour movement, need to make the ILO resolution on Burma bite.

    Burma is the first test of our capacity to exercise our collective consumer sovereignty to do this. The ACTU has already identified several companies doing business in Burma - including Triumph Bras, Lonely Plant and Qantas.

    If we can't use our networks to bring some pressure to bear on these companies in such a targeted and internationally mandated action, what good is there railing against corporate greed?

    If people are looking for a form of constructive global action - this has got to be the first step.

    Peter Lewis


    Soapbox Lockerroom From Trades Hall Toolshed
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    Linda Carruthers Spits Chips Jim Marr's World in Turmoil Paul Howes' Week on the Web The Minister Against Industrial Relations



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