|Issue No. 152
|13 September 2002
The Legacy of 11/9
Interview: Still Flying
International: President Gas
Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
History: Levelling September
Unions: Welfare Max
Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Poetry: A Man From the East And A Man From The West
Review: The Sum Of All Fears
The Locker Room
Week in Review
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
Despite the legislative and cultural advances that gays and lesbians have won in recent decades, homophobia in the workplace remains a major issue for gay and lesbian workers.
A recent Australian study found 52% of more than 900 respondents suffered harassment in the workplace, 21% were outed against their will by colleagues and 17% felt their careers had been restricted because of their homosexuality.
Against this backdrop, Sydney unionists are organising "Workers Out!" - the second world lesbian and gay trade unionists conference. Workers Out! Will be held at the University of Sydney from 31 October - 2 November in conjunction with the sixth Gay Games.
Workers Out!, to be opened by ICFTU Regional President and ACTU President Sharan Burrow, will develop strategies to deal with homophobia in the workplace. Regional and industry caucuses and a mini queer film festival will take place on the day following the formal closure of the conference.
With well over 100 registrations already, more than 30 countries are expected to send delegates. Particular emphasis is being placed on participation and issues from Asia and the Pacific, supported by s generous scholarship system. All people interested in attending the confernece are urged to visit www.workersout.com and register as soon as possible.
In recent years there has been a growing recognition that the industrial rights of lesbians and gay men should be an integral part of the work of all trade unions. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) now includes sexuality as grounds for discrimination in their policies.
"The ICFTU Asia Pacific Region urges all affiliates to send delegates to the Workers Out! Conference, to provide financial assistance and to support the conference's scholarship program," says ICFTU Regional President Sharan Burrow.
Progressive unions should act now to ensure you are represented at Workers Out! If you are your union has interest in any of the following areas, Workers Out! Will provide a once in four years opportunity to develop your policies and activities.
Major themes for Workers Out are:
1. Industrial instruments and lesbian and gay (lg) rights.
2. Trade union policies on lg rights and lg participation in TU structures/activities.
3. Specific locations of lg workers in the workplace (i.e tendency towards particular professions, the issues faced by lg workers in rural areas, constituency specific issues such as transgender and lesbians in male-dominated workplaces)
4. LG industrial rights and global social justice
5. Impact of shift of welfare/health/safety net service provision from governments to the private sector e.g. church groups and charity.
6. HIV/AIDS & other health issues in the workplace and in unions
7. LG unemployed and workers in the informal sector incl. Sex workers
8. International networking and organising amongst lg workers
9. LG workers, international labour movement and global political economy incl. labour migration, rise of fundamentalist groups
10. LG trade unionism and lg student communities.
While Gay and lesbian trade unionists from Australia have lead unions and organised and represented members for decades, the nature of the struggles experienced by lesbian and gay workers differs greatly across the world.
As organising committee member Mark Dolahenty says, "Australian working conditions often bear little resemblence to the experiences of gay and lesbian workers in other regions, many of whom live in countries where homosexual citizens can be jailed our executed. As unionists it is our duty to be involved in supporting people in those situations."
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
* Forward this story to colleagues and friends who may want to attend Workers Out!
* Use your position or vote in a trade union structure to ensure your union is funding and supporting delegates to attend Workers Out!
* Follow the proceedings of the Workers Out! Conference at www.workersout.com to understand what you can do to support justice for lesbians and gay men in your workplace.
Join the campaign for justice now!
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