||Issue No. 152||13 September 2002|
The Legacy of 11/9
Interview: Still Flying
International: President Gas
Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
Unions: Welfare Max
Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
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?
‘Robbed Generation’ Seeks Stolen Wages
Armed with QC advice that a claim would be successful in the courts, the ACTU Indigenous Conference this week passed a resolution backing a claim for reparations against the Queensland Government.
The Beattie Government has offered to pay a one-off $55.4 million to indigenous workers employed under the Protection Acts, which governed wages and conditions for most Aboriginal Queenslanders.
Under the Queensland Government's offer, Aboriginal people over the age of 50 would receive $4000 per person as total settlement while people aged 45 - 49 would receive $2000 per person as total settlement. This would be backed by a written apology to all claimants
Those negotiations have broken down because the Queensland Government is refusing to negotiate further with those entitled to compensation.
Sorry History of Exploitation
From the 1890s to 1972 the Queensland Government controlled the wages of most Queensland Aborigines. Some Aboriginal workers lived on settlements or missions and most were not paid. .
Some Aboriginal people were sent out to work under a licensing system where the Government paid the wages. Most received around 66% of the white rate but at times adjustments were not made and this rate fell to as low as 25% of the white rate.
However, even with this reduced rate, Aboriginal workers only ever received 30% of their total wage with the balance going to tax and a number of forced savings schemes.
Permission was never asked for nor given for the deduction of money for these forced savings schemes. Some of the money was used to buy Aboriginal people clothing, dental work etc. Evidence is available that these schemes were poorly managed with all kinds of trustee and fiduciary implications.
Control over employment of Aboriginal people ceased in 1968, control over relocations ceased in 1971 and control over the savings of Aboriginal people stopped in 1972.
Workers Online understands that if successful, similar claims would be pursued by indigenous workers in other states and federally - although the claims will depend on the form of 'protection' regime that was in place in each jurisdiction
NSW Labor Council's Adam Kerslake, who attended this week's conference, says the whole issue of underpayment of indigenous workers is a can of worms that must be addressed.
"Beattie does deserve some credit because his Government was first off the mark," Kerslake says.
"The sting in the tail is that this will become an issue in every State in Australia. The challenge for the union movement is back the calls from our black activists."
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