||Issue No. 124||15 February 2002|
Chickens Come Home
Unions: Winning the Heartland
Interview: Swan's Song
Corporate: Lessons from Enron
Politics: What We Did Last Summer
History: Solidarity in Song
International: A Tale of Two Cities
Poetry: Nobody Told Me
Review: Labor and the Rings
Satire: Rafter Named Bermudan Of The Year For Tax Purposes
Unions' Commit to Battle for Hearts
Carr on Notice - Expectations Up
Mad Monk Sides With Angels … Briefly
Maritime Union Acts on Spy Scandal
May Day Play-Off for Workers' Anthem
Burmese Links Shroud Winter Olympics
New Phone Venture One.Tel In Drag
Two Million Face Rights Downgrade
Enron Collapse Hits Share-Owner Agenda
Corrrigan Snaps Up Rail Bargain
Kinko Clowns With Workers' Rights
Telstra's Tragic Delays Of Its Own Making
Burrow Puts Case to World Economic Forum
Shangri La Protests Hit Melbourne
The Locker Room
Week in Review
'International Labour's Year in Review' - A Re-View
Collins Gets Cryptic
Labor Council of NSW
Unions' Commit to Battle for Hearts
The research, presented to a NSW Labor Council workplace harmony seminar this week, shows the majority of Australians, from all works of life, back current hard-line refugee policies.
The survey of 708 voters, commissioned by the Labor Council, found:
- 63 percent believe Howard had handled the asylum seeker issue well or very well. While non-unionists were more supportive of Howard (67 per cent) a majority (58 per cent) of union members also supported the stand.
- Higher income earners (above $70,000) were less likely to support the Prime Minister (54 per cent) compared with 71 percent of voters earning under $50,000.
But there was some room for optimism that people were open to a more compassionate stance.
- While there was strong agreement for emotive propositions such as: "If people want to come to Australia because they are fearful of being persecuted in their own country, they should go through the proper channels of face mandatory detention" (80 percent)
- and "any softening of Australia's current policy would lead to a massive influx of illegal immigrants and would be unfair to those who are waiting their rightful turn in the queue" (77 percent),
- a majority of respondents accepted the proposition that "seeking asylum in Australia or a country other than one's own is not illegal, nor is it queue jumping. It is a fundamental right of any person experiencing persecution in their country of origin.(58 percent of union members agreed).
Challenge Not to be Shirked
Accepting the statistics showed there was a lot of work to do in winning over union members, Labor Council secretary John Robertson says it's a challenge the labour movement cannot afford to shirk.
Robertson, who's taken a leading role in the Labor for Refugees group, says the only way to fight the issue is to foster understanding and compassion for the plight of refugees at a workplace level.
"The reality is that support for the Prime Minister on this issue is so high because there has not been a strong counter-argument presented," Robertson says.
"Unfolding events show the extent to which Howard used propaganda to shape the debate for his own political advantage. Our challenge is to present a different story to our membership."
Plan for Action
Participants at the seminar came up with proposals to take the issue onto work sites, including:
- workplace visits by refugees
- producing an information kit for delegates and activists
- developing a Labor Council statement of commitment to diversity
- winning senior union officials to the campaign
The proposals will be formally considered by the Labor Council executive next week.
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