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Issue No. 192 22 August 2003  

Flexing the Muscles
If there was an over-riding mood from this week’s ACTU Congress it was one of pent-up energy, as if the time was fast approaching where the sleeping giant that is the Australian workforce must wake from its slumber.


Interview: The New Deal
US union leader Amy Dean expands on her agenda to give unions a real political voice

Unions: In the Line of Hire
Unions have lobbied and negotiated in a bid to stem casualisation and insecurity. Now, Jim Marr, writes they are seeking protection through a formal Test Case.

Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
Young people are amongst the most vulnerable in the workforce. So why aren't they joining the union, asks Carly Knowles

International: The Domino Effect
An internal struggle in the biggest and strongest industrial union in Germany IG Metall has had a devastating wave effect across not just that country, but also the rest of Europe, writes Andrew Casey.

Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
Max Ogden looks at the vexed issue of Works Councils and the differing views within the union movement to them.

National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
Achieving a fairer society and a better working life for employees from across Australia will be key themes at the ACTU's triennial Congress meeting later this month reports Noel Hester.

History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Rowan Cahill looks at the role Australia's conservatives played in supporting facism in the days before World War II.

Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Frank Sartor might have shot through but Robert Domm still calls the IR shots at Sydney City which pretty much explains why the council is this month’s Bad Boss nominee.

Poetry: Just Move On.
Visiting bard Maurie Fairfield brightens up our page with a ditty about little white lies.

Review: Reality Bites
The workers, united, may never be defeated but if recent episodes of Channel 10 drama The Secret Life Of Us are to be believed, this is not necessarily a good thing, writes Tara de Boehmler.


 Kids Win From Building Stoush

 Airline Bombs Staff

 Socialists Give Banks a Kicking

 Workers Bag Leave Entitlements

 Bosses Keep the Merc

 Canberra Off The Rails

 Australia in Terrorists’ Sights

 Labor Pledges Taskforce Fight

 Unions Go Back To School

 Yumaro Shows The Way To Go

 Rheem Taps into Lock Out Pattern

 100 Stranded in Bass Strait

 Call Centre Workers Cash In

 If It Looks Like A Duck...

 Stellar Dials an Ernie

 Activists Notebook


The Soapbox
Fighting Words
Craig Emerson gave what could be the most spirited Labor spray in a decade to the NSW Labor Council this month. Here it is in all its venom.

Out of Their Class
Phil Bradley argues that Australia's education system should not be up for negotiation in the global trade talks.

The Locker Room
The ABC of Sport
Phil Doyle argues that the only way to end the corporate madness that is sport, is to give it all back to the ABC.

Locks, Stocks and Barrels
Union Aid Abroad's Peter Jennings updates on the situation in Burma, where the repression of democracy is going from bad to worse.

 Misplaced Trust
 A Harsh Lesson
 Axe The Max
 India On A Dollar A Day
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Letters to the Editor

India On A Dollar A Day

As an American, it interested me very much to see your article about the effects on Australians of sending jobs to India. American companies, with the blessing of our government, scramble to do the same. I wonder that you make no mention of the oppressive social systems that make possible the low labor and living costs in the Asian countries that get our jobs.

India has cheaper living costs because many Indian agricultural laborers are held in debt bondage by the threat of physical violence from upper caste brahmins. Many other industries in India keep costs low through the use of child labor and bonded labor.

You may have heard of caste discrimination in India. One of every six Indians belongs to the out-castes, or untouchables, who prefer to be called Dalits. These people serve as bonded agricultural laborers, and in many other industries. By bonded I mean held in debt bondage, unable to leave the farms of upper-caste landlords. They are held in bondage by the threat of physical violence.

Much of India's food and domestic goods get produced by forced labor. These Indian workers do not get sufficient nutrition, health insurance, pensions, and cannot organize. But the lower costs for food and housing mean that

Indian technical workers, again brahmins, can work more cheaply than those in countries with universal rights.

The Indian news site carried an interview with a representative of Human Rights Watch.

--------- begin excerpt ------------------

Human Rights Watch is a monitoring and advocacy organisation that investigates human rights abuses in over 70 countries. We are the largest human rights organisation in the US and second largest in the world after Amnesty International.

Dalits are discriminated against, denied access to land, forced to work in slave-like conditions, and routinely abused, even killed, at the hands of the police and of higher-caste groups that enjoy the state's protection.

We've been asking for international assistance to help India with national programmes that are devised to combat caste discrimination. India fears scrutiny, but they also fear an international backlash. No one has suggested

an economic boycott. Not a single sanction. However, both internal and international pressure is still needed to generate the political will in the country to actually enforce its own laws.

------------- end excerpt ---------------

Here's an excerpt of Amnesty International's latest report on India.

Socially and economically marginalized sections of society, such as dalits, adivasis (tribal people), women and religious minorities, including Muslims, continued to be discriminated against by the police, the criminal justice

system and non-state actors, despite legislation aimed at protecting some of these groups. They continued to be particularly vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment, which remained widespread across the country. The ongoing

international campaign against "terrorism", as well as the heightened tensions with Pakistan, contributed to the giving of undue legitimacy to various forms of discrimination against the Muslim minority, including

violence and the denial of access to justice.

Dalit human rights continued to receive international attention, particularly from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which held a thematic discussion on descent-based discrimination in August. However, dalit communities continued to be victims

of violent backlash when asserting their rights, and to have problems accessing the criminal justice system when seeking redress for abuses.

_________ end excerpt ___________

If you want to learn more about how educated, upper-caste Indianprofessionals can afford to work for so little, check the Human Rights Watch website

BROKEN PEOPLE - Caste Violence Against India's Untouchables.

or this book

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, by Kevin Bayles

These sites tell more about the plight of Dalits:

By the way, in India, upper-castes occupy 90% of the government and academic posts in the social sciences and 94% in the sciences. Anything generated by the Indian government or Indian academics likely carries a strong bias toward protecting the caste system.

Patrick Tibbits


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