Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 31 Official Organ of LaborNet 17 September 1999  




*  Interview: Sadly Vindicated
Labor’s foreign affairs spokesman Laurie Brereton has spent the past year warning that East Timor would explode without a UN peacekeeping force. Now he’s had to watch his predictions come true.
*  International: In the Bunker
One of the last reporters to leave East Timor, Workers Online's HT Lee remembers the week that Dili burned.
*  Republic: Tarred With the Same Brush
Neville Wran asks why it is that the most fervant monarchists are also the most eager union-bashers.
*  Unions: Hard Labour
Prisoner educators argue more attention needs to be given to rehabilitation through teaching, but they’re facing an uphill battle to convince authorities.
*  History: Labour and Community
A history conference in Wollongong next month will look at the changing role for labour into the next century.
*  Review: Bobbin' Up - 40 Years On
Forty years after its first publicaton and several European translations Bobbin Up, a classic of industrial fiction, is coming home.
*  Satire: East Timor Poll Triumph: Support for Jakarta Up 21 Per Cent
The Indonesian Government has declared that it is pleased with the result of the independence referendum in which 21% of East Timorese voted in support of maintaining links with Indonesia.

The CFMEU's Phil Davey presents $5000 to APHEDA. The money was raised at the Bang The Drum for Timor Benefit organised by the CFMEU and Labor Council.

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Today's Headlines - How Long Will the Interest Last?

Asylum Call for Independence Supporters
Independence leaders who have fled East Timor for West Timor and other parts of Indonesia and are now being hunted down have appealed to Australia to provide protection and, where necessary, grant them short-term political asylum.
[ Full Story » ]

Nurses Collect Vital Medical Supplies
The NSW Nurses Association is co-ordinating a drive to secure vital medical supplies to be sent into East Timor with the first wave of peacekeepers.
[ Full Story » ]

Industrial Faction for Pre-Conference Caucus
The NSW Labor Council will convene a cross-factional industrial caucus in the lead-up to next month’s State Conference to ensure unions present a united front on key resolutions.
[ Full Story » ]

Lees Backs Freeloader Laws
Democrats leader Meg Lees has backed a push by NSW unions to levy service fees to non-union members when they secure a pay rise for them.
[ Full Story » ]

Outsourcing Decision - Banks Under the Gun
Banks that have closed branches and transferred staff to provide services through pharmacies and newsagents face a massive back-pay claim following a landmark court ruling this week.
[ Full Story » ]

Reith Forces Truckies to Speed
Truck drivers are being forced to sign individual contracts that requires them to drive 15 km per hour faster than under the award system, raising concerns about road safety.
[ Full Story » ]

He Talks the Talk - But Can He Walk the Walk?
The Community and Public Sector Union has called on Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith to match his words with actions after he called for workers to be given more control over their working hours.
[ Full Story » ]

Commission Tells AGC to Get Into the Nineties
A finance company’s attempt to cover its workers with a non-union enterprise agreement has been blocked after it was revealed it was based on an award that had not been updated for a decade.
[ Full Story » ]

Cost-Cutting Puts Clinical Waste in Landfill
The Department of Health has relaxed requirements on the removal of clinical waste in a bid to cut costs - raising union concerns about the dangerous material may be dumped as landfill.
[ Full Story » ]

Prisons Reject Free Computers
NSW prison authorities have directed jails to return free computers that had been donated for the use of prisoners by corporate and community groups.
[ Full Story » ]

US Defence Giant Eyes Welfare Sector
One of the world’s largest defence armaments manufacturers - Lockheed Martin - is now winning competitive tender contracts to provide welfare work in the USA.
[ Full Story » ]

Letters to the Editor
  • TWU Wrong on Union Bans

  • A Lukewarm Republic

  • Compo Premium Cheats Should be Policed

  • Destroying Education

  • Editorial

    Unpleasant Truths

    As United Nations peacekeepers make their tortuous preparations to enter East Timor, we should prepare ourselves for some unpleasant truths.

    The first and most obvious will be the extent of the massacres that have occurred there in the past fortnight. With women and children separated from the men there are very real fears that international forces will be confronted by genocide to rival the Killing Fields.

    The bravado of an Australian-led mission will cast us as part of the solution to this international outrage, and there is no doubt that the presence of the United Nations is a necessary first step to honouring the independence vote.

    But once the killing stops, more fundamental truths may have to be confronted.

    First: how did we allow governments of both political persuasions to turn a blind eye to 25 years of injustice on our door-steps? How were we all subsumed into this ethical black hole? And how can we presume now to take a high moral ground?

    Secondly: once it determined to act on East Timor, why did the Australian Government ignore all advice that UN troops should be put in place before the ballot? Why were the warnings of even the East Timorese independence leaders so comprehensively ignored?

    Those truths may be left to history to uncover. But we do have the chance to respond to the questions which will emerge over the coming weeks, months and years.

    Having seen the desolation, just how much are prepared to do to make things right? How long will it be before the news from Timor becomes stale and the media's attention moves on to the next big story? When will we demand our government stop sending aid money abroad? How will we repay our debt to the East Timorese?

    As the union aid agency APHEDA steps up its campaign to rebuild East Timor seeking resources and volunteers, there are many questions still to be asked. Let's make sure we can live with the answers.

    Peter Lewis


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