ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has formally asked CARE Australia to review its labour relations with East Timorese workers and enter talks to set decent pay and conditions.
The intervention follows complaints at the low rates of pay and lack of conditions for East Timorese working for aid agencies in the newly independent territory and the refusal of agencies to enter into meaningful negotiations on the industrial relations issues.
They are being employed under the following conditions: 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, no pay if ill, half an hour for lunch, no injury compensation, no drinking water provided, no transport to and from work, and no contracts, all for $A4 a day.
The ACTU chief has written to CARE Australia acting chief executive Robert Yallop arguing that as the relief effort moves from crisis to reconstruction attention should be given to
Currently East Timorese staff employed by Care Australia/Care Canada are attempting to negotiate a set of wages and working conditions more aligned to the core labour standards and more in keeping with the UN Secretary General's nine human rights principles as expressed in his global compact.
"As reported to us Care Australia/Care Canada is refusing either to take the workers claims seriously or to enter into meaningful negotiations," Combet says in the letter.
"We mention Care Canada in this regard as we understand that it is Care Canada which is the lead agency for Care's activities in East Timor. To that end we will be in touch with the Canadian Labour Congress (the equivalent of the ACTU asking them to also raise this issue with Care Canada."
Combet has asked CARE to provide a copy of the guidelines/policy which governs the employment, including wages and working conditions- hours of work; policies related to illness, injury and compensation; occupational health and safety as well as training and skills transfer, of your East Timorese staff.
He has also asked for information on Care Australia's policies with regard to trade unions and in particular ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association of the Right to Organise) and 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention).
And he has called on Care Australia/Care Canada to take immediate steps to enter into realistic and meaningful negotiations with their East Timorese staff, and that such negotiations be carried out, both in the spirit and the letter of the ILO's core labour standards and the UN Secretary General's nine principles.
"Neither the ILO or the ACTU as one of the social partners of the ILO would find it acceptable if organisations - UN, private companies, or NGOs - were employing workers under such conditions."
Australian Services Union delegate and Ansett worker Maria Gencarelli emerged from the Federal Court victorious after it held that the airline had breached the Workplace Relations Act in dismissing her.
Justice Ron Merkel found that Ansett's actions contravened freedom of association provisions in section 298k of the Workplace Relations Act. The penalty to be imposed upon the airline, and compensation for Ms Gencarelli, will be determined at a date yet to be set.
A vindicated Ms Gencarelli said "I obviously did not do anything wrong. I was merely communicating some enterprise bargaining discussions to my fellow members."
The ASU has hailed the outcome as a victory for the rights of all workers to use new technology, such as email, to communicate with each other.
ASU National Assistant Secretary, Linda White says this decision enshrines the rights of union delegates in the enterprise bargaining process to use company communications systems, and recognises that union delegates and representatives in workplaces have a vital role to play in enterprise bargaining.
"It sends a message to corporate Australia that delegates have rights, and that seeking to restrict these rights is a breach of the Workplace Relations Act," White says.
Ansett management had deemed the distribution of the newsletter - an update on enterprise bargaining negotiations - on the internal Internet system as an "unacceptable use of technology".
NSW Labor Council secretary Michael Costa says the win is a vindication of what the union movement has been arguing for some time: that workers should have the right to distribute union information in the workplace - whether on a noticeboard or an email system.
Costa says he's written this week to NSW Industrial Relations Mister Jeff Shaw asking him to look into the issue as a matter of urgency.
"Until we have a universal right to reasonable access, more cases like this will emerge," he says.
The ASU in Victoria is now planning to approach Liberty Victoria about jointly campaigning/lobbying the Bracks Government on the back of the court decision.
Congratulations can be sent to Maria at: mailto:[email protected]
For a details analysis of the decision see next week's Workers Online
With power to the North Queensland city cut off, the sales staff, were called at home and summonsed to work, despite the flooding and the fact that schools and child care centers were closed.
The move, the latest in a series of anti-worker actions by management, has added fire to growing unrest by workers within the organization.
Community and Public Sector Union Queensland secretary Bill Marklew says the normal practise in these circumstances would be for an employer to allow staff to take emergency leave, special leave or carers' leave.
"Here was a chance for Telstra to recognize the work it's staff had done over the last 12 months in securing $11 million a day profit for the corporation," Marklew says. "But now it has turned out that Telstra wants to save even more money at the expense of its staff!"
Court Action to head Off Job Cuts
Meanwhile, Telstra unions have lodged an application in the Federal Court in Melbourne seeking an urgent injunction preventing the shrinking giant from targeting union members in its planned cull of 16,000 employees.
The court action follows the release of an e-mail to Telstra team leaders telling them that workers who have signed individual contracts should receive preferential treatment when staff are cut.
The unions have retained Julian Burnside, QC, and Josh Bornstein for the legal challenge the lawyers involved in the successful MUA and BHP disputes.
Telstra Group Managing Director Rob Cartwright's sent a message to all Employee Relations Managers and Team Leaders in Telstra stating:
"Staff members who have transferred to individual contracts have placed their trust in their managers and the Company to create a work environment that reinforces respect and dignity for the individual, and which places primary emphasis on productive relationships in which individual accountability encourages each person to contribute to his/her full potential. Managers must not under any circumstances compromise these important values in the way they implement cost reduction initiatives which lead to staff reductions. Managers will be held accountable to support the values of the Company's preferred model of individual employment"
CPSU national secretary Wendy Caird says the union will argue the proposed sackings should be stopped because they are tainted with discrimination, political bias and prejudice.
"Telstra is enthusiastically implementing the Howard Government's agenda of driving workers off union awards and agreements. But in their zeal they have overstepped the mark," Caird says.
"The Workplace Relations Act still makes it illegal to sack someone because they choose to work under a union award or agreement."
"We are asking the Federal Court to urgently put a stop to this discriminatory behaviour. There are 16,000 jobs at stake here, with the first thousand are expected go in a matter of weeks."
The community has had enough of unrestrained corporate greed. If these job cuts are not stopped they will destroy the livelihood of working families and result in worse services for all," added Ms Caird
Telstra Staff Need Your Support
The CPSU Communications Section, on behalf of the union members in Telstra, is
seeking messages of support in its campaign against Telstra's proposal to sack
10,000 workers and de-unionise the company.
CPSU National Secretary, Wendy Caird, explains, "Our campaign is multi-faceted combining political, legal, PR and community organising strategies. For example, we have just lodged an application in the Federal Court seeking to put a hold on the redundancies."
"We are also leafleting all major Telstra workplaces, encouraging staff to speak out against discrimination in their workplace.
"A key part of the strategy is to let Telstra workers know that they are not alone. If you and your workmates could pass a resolution similar to the one below, we will pass it on to our members in Telstra as a message of solidarity."
RESOLUTION: WE SUPPORT TELSTRA EMPLOYEES
"This group of union members deplores the actions of Telstra in proposing to put 10,000 Australians out of work. As Australia's most profitable company, Telstra has an obligation to its customers and its staff to provide safe secure jobs and services, and a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.
We express our strongest condemnation of the proposal to target union and award based staff over its preferred employees on AWAs when it hands out its notices of termination.
We pledge our support to the employees of Telstra and the CPSU in their action to beat the company in its attempt to sack workers and de-unionise its workforce."
mailto:[email protected] or
Fax your message of support to 02 9221 9797
Menzies cleaner and Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union member Miriam Carrasco told the Labor Council's weekly meeting that dedicated cleaners were no longer able to keep classrooms clean.
Miriam, who has worked as a school cleaner for 24 years since emigrating from Uruguay, said that since the cleaning service was contracted out to private operators by the former Coalition Government, conditions had worsened to the point that were now at crisis.
"When they sold the Government Cleaning Service we were promised we wouldn't suffer any changes in the future," she said.
But since the change teams have been cut from three cleaners to two; times for classrooms reduced to just nine minutes and, now, a further 24 per cent productivity target has been placed on cleaners.
And when a cleaner is sick, there are no relief cleaners, meaning the existing workers must cover.
"We now have nine minutes to do a classroom - that includes dusting, cleaning tables, windows, vacuuming and polishing floors," Miriam said. "How can one person do all that? It's a physical impossibility!"
The cleaners have called on the Premier and the Department of Education to review the contracts, rather than sending around inspectors to critcise their work.
LHMU state secretary Annie Owens says the current action follows Menzies' refusal to heed the findings of a review by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Review Tribunal (IPART) who found that: targets were ambitious over the life of the contract and very ambitious over the first two years of the contract.
The Labor Council has endorsed the action and called on the NSW Government to intervene in the dispute
by Zoe Reynolds
National Secretary John Coombs has applauded the Federal Court decision rejecting a government application to withhold secret waterfront documents from public scrutiny.
"The timing could not be better," said Mr Coombs. "The decision comes on the eve of the second anniversary of the Patrick dispute (April 7, 1998). We are now one step closer to learning what role Peter Reith played behind the scenes of the Dubai training debacle and the waterfront dispute. The people behind the balaclavas may yet berevealed."
Federal Labor MP Lindsay Tanner, filed affidavits in the Federal Court last year for the release of government consultancy reports denied under two Freedom of information applications.
Justice Marshall who is sitting in judgement of the case, yesterday rejected an application by departmental head Peter Shergold, as delegate of Peter Reith, that "disclosure of the documents would be contrary to the public interest". If successful this would have prevented Mr Tanner's Freedom of Information appeal proceeding.
The secret reports, which cost taxpayers more than $1 million, were provided to Mr Reith and the then Minister for Transport John Sharp in 1997 by Dr Stephen Webster, ACIL Economics, Minter Ellison and others. They are believed to contain strategic advice to the ministers and the government on how to provoke a waterfront dispute and the mass sackings of MUA members.
Printing workers union state secretary Basil King told Labor Council last night how the ticketing debacle was another example of how cost-cutting by Games organizer had not only cost Australian jobs, but had undermined quality.
King says Australian firms who bid for the contract were forced to sign confidentiality agreements that they wouldn't comment on the tender.
But when the contract went to a US firm associated with the Atlanta Games, the local industry was fuming. Now that the tickets have proven to be useless, King says this anger has been vindicated.
"One thing is for sure - Australian workers would have delivered tickets that were the right size," King says.
Talks on Building Shutdown
Meanwhile, talks have commenced between building workers and the Olympics Minister over fears that thousands of building workers will be laid off during the Games period.
Members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union this week threatened to general strike action if jobs were forced to stop during the Games because of restrictions on deliveries of materials to CBD sites.
But after the talks, union representatives were hopeful that wouldn't be necessary.
"The government admitted communication was poor and recongised the contribution the building workers have made to the Games," a CFMEU spokesman says.
"They undertook to get back to the union within a week with a plan on how to keep the industry viable during the Games."
The NSW Nurses Association has written to the NSW Health Department over the tendering of public beds to 'for profit' aged care providers - a condition of NSW receiving federal funds under the national competition agreement signed in the mid-90s.
Immediate concern revolves around the future of beds at the Allandale Aged Care Facility in the Hunter and Garrawarra in the Illawarra.
NSW Nurses Association assistant general secretary Brett Holmes says the State Government may end up needing to choose between federal money and decent aged care. And he's not confident which way it will go.
"We have already had to swallow fact that state nursing homes beds sold off to not for profit sector under a deal with the fed government to guarantee funding," Holmes says.
"But what's happened now is because of competition policy, they're tendering out beds to private for profit as well.
"Its going to be very hard if the big operators start tendering - if they poor more money than the not for profits - the government will face a dilemma between dollars and principle."
Nurses fear the transfer of beds to 'for profit' operators will undermine standards and affect the wages and conditions of workers in the centers.
Nurses Launch Medicare Campaign
Meanwhile, nurses today launched a community campaign in support of the maintenance of medicare and public health care system.
The campaign launch, outside Bankstown Medicare Office, coincided with World Health Day was launched by actor Jacqui Weaver and Nurses Association secretary Sandra Moait.
The changes are designed to make directors more accountable when employees lose accumulated benefits when a company collapses.
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet says the changes are welcome, but inadequate and too narrow.
"Directors must be liable for unpaid entitlements in all cases. This bill only places the onus on a director when the company is in liquidation, and that is not good enough,"
The ACTU welcomed the introduction of a penalty for directors who avoided their liabilities, but rejected the proposal that a worker must prove the director's intentions.
"This is too much to expect of employees," Combet says. "Of course this sort of deceitful behaviour by a director should be a criminal offence, but it is plainly unfair to ask an employee to establish guilt.
"People who have lost their income when a company folds cannot afford to waste time and pay legal costs proving the director is at fault - they need their money immediately."
Combet also says the Government had acted with stealth by planning to introduce the Basic Payments Scheme administratively, rather than opening it to the scrutiny of parliament. The restricted safety net scheme will pay workers a maximum $20,000 when a company collapses.
"I wrote to Workplace Relations Minister Reith in February asking for a meeting to discuss this scheme. Two months later, we have heard nothing. We have no idea when this scheme will be introduced.
"Workers should be protected by a full, compulsory insurance scheme. Money owed to employees will never be safe until we have a fully funded insurance scheme."
The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Sentencing Guidelines) Bill 2000 will enable the Attorney General to apply to the Full Bench of the Industrial Relations Commission in court session at any time to ask for a guideline judgement.
Shaw says the sentencing guidelines help ensure consistency in sentencing decisions.
"It is important to recognise that the guidelines are indicative only and are not intended to be applied in every case and they are not rules binding on judges," Shaw says.
"The Attorney General will have the power to request that the Industrial Relations consider a sentencing guideline, he or she will not have the power to order the Commission. The distinction is crucial to ensuring that the fundamental principle of the separation of powers is retained.
"Workplace safety is an issue which is increasingly concerning the community. Offenders are being prosecuted vigorously and are paying with heavy penalties.
The guidelines are in line with the recommendations of a number of occupational health and safety inquiries, the most recent being the Parliamentary Inquiry into Workplace Safety.
Builders fined $125 000 Over M2 Death
Meanwhile, Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd has been fined $125 000 after a workplace accident which led to the death of one of the construction company's employees.
Abigroup pleaded guilty to the offences which occurred on 4 November, 1996 at the construction site of the M2 Motorway at North Ryde. Employees of the defendant were altering the width of a concrete paving machine when it collapsed, killing an employee.
A foreman had told his supervisor in May,1994 and his maintenance manager in June 1996 about the lack of adequate instructions for using the machine.
The Court heard that Abigroup had not conducted a risk analysis before the accident or documented the necessary guidelines for altering the machine. Stands had not been installed prior to the machine being adjusted.
Justice Wright said Abigroup had a noteworthy safety record but the case highlighted the need for large operators in the construction industry to ensure their operations were conducted with the greatest regard to safety. The defendant's submission that there was a safe system of work in place which was not followed for reasons unexplained could not be accepted, he said.
by Noel Hester
Sydney Water employees haven't had a pay increase for over 12 months. the Sydney Water agreement expired in October 1998, and AWT's in February 1999.
Sydney Water has offered a seven per cent pay rise in a two year agreement. With the year since the expiry of the last agreement effectively it is a measly seven per cent increase over three years. This is half what other workers in the public sector have received.
Research shows that pay increases in the public sector are averaging 3.5-four per cent per year.
ASU Assistant Secretary John Tierney said about 100 Australian Services Union delegates met on the 28 March 2000 to discuss the enterprise agreement.
'The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was the Sydney Water and Australian Water Technologies offer was far short of what was needed and what every employee deserved,' he said.
'Delegates have set a 12 per cent wage increase in a two year agreement as the bottom line.'
Sydney Water and AWT stop work meeting:
WHEN: 12th April 2000
WHERE: Sydney Town Hall Centennial Hall & Vestibule
TIME: 9:00 AM
Accepting the Scroll of Honour to a warm ovation from the Council, Mundy noted the changed climate from the days when Left and Right delegates sat facing each other off in a state of constant warfare.
"The way in which the Labor Council is approaching issues now is the right one," Mundy said. "It is only when the organisation is strong below that you have strength at the top."
Mundy said unions must learn the lessons from history - particularly the 80s and 90s - where too much reliance was placed on dealing with the government at the top.
Read Workers Online next week for an interview with Mundy.
Tanner, who runs his own online discussion groups, is one of the few Labor Parliamentarians to embrace the new technology as a political tool.
Virtual Trades Hall is the LaborNet's online chat room, being developed for public and private union meetings.
All Workers Online readers are welcome to take part in the event
His piece on the Politics of Loneliness is published in this week's Features pages.
APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad is backing the radio station as part of its contribution to the reconstruction effort in East Timor.
The Radio Free East Timor campaign kicks off April 13 at the Harbourside Brasserie - with acts as diverse as Barbalu and Astro Tabasco
Punters will be asked to bring their CDs to the gig, which will then be sent to Dili to add to the fledgling station's playlist.
APHEDA Dili project officer Ramona Mitussis says the Timorese love all sorts of music, but that Reggae and House are the favourites. Then again - a bit of Aussie indie music would go down well too.
Tickets for the Radio Free East Timor gig are now available for $12 and $10 concession.
To order your tickets, click the button below.
Join us for a celebatory ale in the Trades Hall Inn - Friday April 14 at 6pm.
Guest Speaker: Stan Sharkey AM the immediate past Secretary of the CFMEU.
Stan has recently returned from the 14th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions in New Dehli, India.
The Congress was made up of 421 delegates from 64 countries and Stan's report will provide a valuable insight on the current situation in the international labour movement.
Venue: CFMEU, Level 1, 15 Wentworth Ave Sydney
Date: Monday April 17th, 4pm.
by Peter Lewis
Can you first just paint a picture of what the situation on the ground is like?
I don't get a lot of time to get out of Dili but things are a bit grim here. There is a lot of violence around. We've got a East Timorese friend who is thinking of giving up his job with CIVPOL (the Police) because he just can't handle seeing the violence every day. There is a lot of aggression that's been built up and there are not effective ways to deal with it. There are no jobs. There's a lack of food. Basically, if you've got money you're OK but the vast majority of the population have no means of obtaining money. So, things are a bit grim.
The images we have here are of the scorched earth - basically no buildings left. Has that improved over the last few months?
Over the last four weeks I would say there are some signs of permanent reconstruction, but I don't believe there is a lot. Out in the districts they do have some shelter programmes but they are mainly non-permanent shelters that are being erected.
This month permanent reconstruction work has started but it has been slow and there are also problems. It has been said that the UN and some major aid organisations bought, for instance, corrugated iron from Indonesia that was 30 per cent cheaper than the Australian product, but the Australian product is guaranteed for 20 years. The Indonesian product only lasts about three to five years. So by the time the UN leaves it will all need replacing. So there's that kind of stuff that goes on as well, which makes you question just how good the reconstruction is.
So, who is actually running the show in terms of reconstruction?
The UN and its various bodies plus big aid organisations who are here specifically to help with reconstruction. Different aid organisations do different things, and there are a couple who do a lot of work in reconstruction. The procuring of goods and things like that as far as I can work out is to a degree controlled by the UN.
What specific work is APHEDA doing up there?
We are doing a number of things. The first and most important is we are trying to build a vocational training centre. We have secured the old Golkar - which is the old ruling party of Indonesia - we have secured that building. Unfortunately you don't get a lease in East Timor for longer than one year - for longer than 12 months, so we are very much stuck with less than favourable terms; everybody is stuck with the same terms. That means, we have got a very good chance of getting that lease renewed but we are going to have to put a lot of money in getting the building functional. It doesn't have a roof, etc. It's got asbestos. We are hoping to run a training programme to show how to remove asbestos in a safe way. There is a whole heap of issues that need to be thought through. It is going to require major fund raising, but I think that once it's up and running it will be a huge asset for the East Timorese people and something that APHEDA can leave. It's not for us to control. It's for us to set up and help fund and it can be there for 10 to 15 years or more.
We will hopefully be next door to the union centre. The union movement here is applying for a building right next door to Golkar. If they secure that there are a lot of resources that can be shared and the unions here are very interested in vocational training. We need to look at ways of structuring and delivering progams.
There's the union work that we have been doing as well. Training and other assistance. May Day preparations. Plus we've been working with some women's groups - a collective that's involved in textiles in the main - in the production of textiles, and the promotion of women's craft. They have got a building as well which will need some refurbishment. It has a roof but it's burnt out. It will need plumbing and electricity and some minor renovations on the inside. The roof is basically looks OK but that will have to be examined more closely.
We are doing a lot of work in the Education and Health areas. Helping with Heath and Education administration, supply of donated good, training, hopefully helping in the rebuilding of schools. The Education Unions and the ANF in Australia have done a tremendous amount of work in this area already. But it is only just beginning.
When you talk about the East Timorese union movement, what are you talking about?
It's difficult to describe. There is one organization called LAIFET which is a labour advocacy institute. It functions to assist workers - individual workers - when things go wrong, but also to help negotiate contracts for groups of workers. It also functions as a little bit of a resource centre but with very few resources at the moment. They work in conjunction with Emerging Workers' Groups and they have a heavy focus on organising workers so that workers are able to represent themselves. Now when you look at those workers' groups they are probably in about 30 workplaces, ranging from major aid organisations like CARE, UN bodies or bodies attached to the UN like the World Food Program. You've got the International Red Cross which runs the hospital plus you've got major businesses like Hotel Olympia, ports, airports, warehouses - those kinds of places are where they are organising. They are also looking to organise the self-employed and farmers as well. They are very much victims of the economic situation here..
Now, out of all of those groups there are probably three at the moment who are beginning to emerge as unions. Now I wouldn't say they were unions yet, but they are starting to take the form of a union. That would be the electrical workers, the port workers and the airport workers. They are probably the three main ones. There are some others that come and go. The teachers union for instance is starting to form but they don't have a strong organisational structure yet - they are working hard though and could be launched on May Day. They haven't done enough work on the ground organising teachers because it has been so difficult. The Health sector is very organised with representatives from each medical group such as doctors, nurses, dentists etc - and very politically aware! I hope they will march behind a banner on May Day. You have got some leaders who are very keen to set up structures and work towards a union, but they don't have the organising. Whereas other sectors have a good deal of work done in organising workers in a workplace but haven't worked towards developing union structures.
And is the relationship evolving in cooperation with the CNRT?
No, I would say it was totally separate. All the groups that I have talked to - the workers' groups and the Labour Advocacy Institute are fiercely independent of CNRT and also of any political party. Fiercely independent, and whilst they will talk to and inform and on occasion ask for some small assistance from CNRT, they basically operate very separately to it.
Do you see a prospect of a political labour movement evolving out of those unions?
What do you mean by political?
Like the Labor Party emerged from the Australian trade union movement ...
No. I think in the short to medium term that is highly unlikely. I think it will evolve as a union movement totally outside of the party political sphere. Now, in ten years time it may be a different story, but my prediction for a short to medium term would be - No, it will be totally separate and very much part of civil society. Some workers do want to set up a workers party - but not yet - and the relationship of such a party to the Union movement is something that will be debated!
Now, we have been hearing a lot of disquiet about the operation of some of the bigger aid agencies over in Timor. What's your perspective, having worked up there for some time now?
I think there are aid agencies and there are aid agencies. And a lot of decisions were made very quickly with the excuse that it was the emergency situation so I think workers were treated quite despicably. I think the pay was very low. I think the hours were very long. I don't think the food provisions; transportation provisions; etc. were anywhere near adequate.
There were some very good agencies though that did look after their workers and when things did go wrong would say, well, yes, we haven't done things the best, help us do things better. These were the discussions they would have with the workers.
But other aid organisations - I mean CARE for example. CARE Canada lead in East Timor but CARE Australia is about to take over the reins and they are still paying workers $Aust.4.00 for 10 hours work every day in warehouses and you can't make ends meet on that. I have heard that all they are feeding workers is rice. No protein, no vegetables, nothing just rice for the midday meal.
One of the major problems I think is that there just hasn't been a desire or an ability - and this isn't just from aid organisations but from the UN and private companies as well -- to have East Timorese actively participate in decision making processes. It's been very much decisions from abroad if you like. Decisions from the international community that have been imposed upon the East Timorese people. Now, you can forgive that in an emergency situation when you have got to get rice distributed, but six months down the track there is no excuse for it. There should be very large networks built up. There should be forums available for East Timorese people to debate and think about issues. There should be mechanisms whereby they can feed into the processes and actively participate - and that just hasn't happened.
So, from what you are saying it appears that a lot of the goodwill that may have been there six months ago when the aid agencies first came in is dissipating?
I wouldn't say goodwill had disappeared. The East Timorese are pretty cluey about the situation and they know what's right and what's wrong and they can see through a lot of what goes on. What is becoming very clear is that, despite the fact that they are surrounded by the international community, they feel more isolated and alienated than ever before. I think it's APHEDA's role and the union movement in Australia to try to create some really supportive and some really progressive links between the East Timorese people and other organisations because their experiences of organisations on the ground here aren't necessarily good and will never necessarily be good.
The focus of the immediate fund raising activity over in Australia will be a series of events to raise money for the radio station Voz Da Esperanca. Can you just let us know how important a radio station is in that broader picture of reconnecting the community?
Quite basically, if you can solve the communications problem in East Timor you can solve a good portion of the problems that East Timor faces. There is no effective communications system here, and we have got to think not just about radio but how people interact with the community radio station. It's all very well and good to be able to distribute information, but you also need to receive information.
The East Timorese feel as though they are in a total vacuum. They have no idea what goes on. The UN publications for instance are very generalised and don't debate issues and aren't open to having issues debated within them either. The media, especially Lov Da Esperanca has begun to create the forums whereby issues such as labour relations; such as media regulation; such as whatever, can be talked about and discussed and despite their origins - and this is important because they were originally called Radio Falintil - quite recently for instance they had Joao Carrascalao, a senior figure in the CNRT, who is also from UDT, from an organization and a side of the political spectrum that hasn't necessarily always supported independence - but they had an hour long interview with him because they feel that everybody's opinion is important and needs to be heard and needs to be debated. They also had an hour interview with Raghwan from the workers' Bureau of the ILO! So creating that kind of forum with a means of communication that can go to a huge range of people, and promotes debate and civil society - I think that is imperative and that we have to support it.
And Australians are also being asked to donate CDs for the radio stations. Is there any music on the ground at the moment, and if so, what is the sound of Dili?
The music ranges - the East Timorese basically love music - so you are looking at Reggae which is very popular; house music - we have very little house music at the moment, but they are pretty keen on that. East Timorese traditional songs; modern East Timorese songs; Indonesian songs - they have a lot of good contacts with Indonesian groups and are very supportive of many of the Indonesian groups who of course also have quite progressive politics. So it's a broad range of music, but they basically listen to anything including classical.
by HT Lee
I made a returned trip to East Timor just after Christmas and spent three weeks there. My previous trip before that was in September 1999 where I ended up spending five days under siege in the UN compound.
What I found on this return trip was the UN and its associated agencies trapped in its own bureaucracy--driving around in their air-conditioned 'range rovers' attending endless meetings. These luxury cars were mainly driven by one person while our Federal Police Officers in CivPol had to pool and share cars.
The UN seems to shuffle endless amount of paper but was unable to answer basic questions, deeming them to be 'sensitive', 'tricky' or 'too hard'--the list of excuses was endless.
Meanwhile urgent medical supplies and construction materials were stuck in Darwin because the UN and its associated agencies--the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) etc could not get their act together.
It was disappointing to see so little been done. No reconstruction took place. The only houses or buildings in Dili been fixed were those occupied by the UN, its agencies and the numerous foreign non governmental organisations (NGOs).
Houses not completely destroyed
Many of the East Timorese houses were not completely destroyed. All they needed were new roofs, re-wiring, cement rendering of the walls and minimum plumbing to make them habitable again.
The cost would have been less than $10,000 per house to fix, some of them less than $5,000. All that was required was the will power to do so--it would have taken a qualified tradesperson supervising three to four Timorese for no more than two to three weeks to fix up a house.
Once the house is fixed one of the rooms could have easily been rented out as full board and lodging to a UN personnel. This practice was widely used by the UN, CivPol etc during the period leading to the 30 August ballot.
But instead of embarking on such a program the UN relied on the importation of floating barges--the rooms costing $240 per night. Had the UN paid an East Timorese family the same amount for food and lodging for a UN personnel per week that money would have been put to better use--the money would have re-circulated amongst the East Timorese instead of ending up out of the country.
Talk to some one else, not me...
When I raised the issues of fixing up the houses so as to provide board and lodging for some of the UN staff, I was told that was not a job for the UN but rather I should talk to the UNHCR and the NGOs.
The UN could not tell me who or which body was responsible for demolishing buildings which were about to collapse onto the streets--making them a danger to the public. Again the answer was it depended if the building was a public or private one.
There is a tuberculosis problem among the children in East Timor. The UN had been aware of this since last September when the East Timorese were evacuated to Darwin. But again when asked what had been done about it, I was told by volunteer doctors they could not treat the problem because there was no medicine available yet.
I also noticed there was an asbestos problem. But once again no one in the UN was able or willing to talk...the list of dead ends I encountered was endless.
NGOs need local input
Dili was swamped with foreign NGOs from all over the world. The NGOs were falling over each other and in many cases were duplicating their services.
However, most of them have one thing in common--the lack of local input. It is important in the reconstruction of East Timor projects started by the NGOs do not end up making the East Timorese dependent on foreign aid. The projects must help the East Timorese gain self-reliance--this can only be achieved with local input.
The NGOs should follow the example of APHEDA Union Aid Abroad.
Before starting any projects APHEDA consults widely with the people of East Timore and their leadership.
An example of this is the setting up of the radio station--Radio 'Voz de Esperanza' (Voice of Hope). APHEDA provided the equipment and the training of personnel.
Its' time to stop the pretence
In its pretence to appear 'neutral' OCHA did not want to be seen cooperating with the East Timorese umbrella organisation the National Committee of Timorese Resistance (CNRT).
I was told by OCHA our request to ship two 'old bombs' from Darwin to Dili for the CNRT could not be complied with. It would have cost $2,000 to commercially ship the two vehicles to Dili.
I was further told any materials earmarked for the CNRT would be left behind in Darwin.
According to OCHA, CNRT is an 'unelected political organisation'--OCHA cannot take sides and can only deal with requests from and for NGOs.
When I arrived in Dili I approached Interfet and the vehicles were shipped over without any hassles by CMOC the Interfet unit responsible for transporting personnel and supplies.
It would have been understandable for OCHA to have taken such a neutral stand had there been a 'civil war' in East Timore--just like in the case of Rwanda, Bosnia or Kosovo.
However, there was no civil war in East Timor--the violence there was perpetrated by the Indonesian army (TNI) and its militia puppets on an unarmed civilian population which on 30 August 1999 voted overwhelmingly (78.5%) for independence.
Because of the pretence of being neutral the UN did not utilise the services of Falantil (the armed wing of the East Timorese resistance) which would have provided vital intelligence and other support to the UN peacekeepers. Falantil could also have been trained to take up some policing duties
But instead of using them they were mainly confined to Aileu.
Interfet--a job well done
Interfet had done a tremendous job. Unlike the poseurs of the UN, the 'hands on approach' of our troops was much appreciated by the East Timorese.
Interfet had gone out of its way to help the locals. Our troops were prepared to get their hands dirty cleaning up the rubbish left behind by the militias, fixing the roofs, fixing the plumbing, getting generators going for electricity, you name it they will do it.
They were also great with the kids--playing footy, soccer and basketball with them and giving the kids some of their own rations. The kids have now learn to chant: 'Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!'
CMOC prefers to see the naval vessels going over to Dili filled up but was hardly approached by the UN or its agencies to do so.
Our navy has been helpful--HMAS Newcastle on her recent deployment to East Timor took on board building materials supplied by the construction union (CFMEU) and the building industry. The materials were used in Oecussi to rebuild the fire damaged maternity wards and the re-roofing of schools.
The supply ship HMAS Tobruk is on its way to East Timor. On board is four containers of clothing and food collected by the CFMEU.
It is up to the UN and its agencies to get organised so that essential supplies can be shipped to East Timor for the urgent commencement of the reconstruction program. This will help to provide the urgently needed employment amongst a population of 80% unemployed.
by Mark Hearn
The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) closed the Minto branch on Friday, 7 April. The ten staff have been relocated. Customers now have to bank at either Ingleburn or Campbelltown. For many of them, that's an hour on the bus, there and back.
Carol is standing out the front of the Minto branch today, unable to enter her employer's branch because a security guard refuses to let her in. Carol is part of a Finance Sector Union protest against the closure - against the obliteration of bank branches across Australia.
300 CBA branches are likely to close due to "Ezy Banking" (that's banking without a bank). Another 250 will go if the CBA's merger with Colonial proceeds. You'll soon have more chance of meeting a Tasmanian Tiger than a bank teller.
The FSU is taking it's S.O.S. ambulance ("Save our Services" and "Save our Staff") around Australia to highlight the devastation of jobs and branches in the banking industry.
Peter Presdee, the NSW Secretary of the FSU's Commonwealth Bank Section, urges customers gathered outside the Minto branch to sign a petition calling on the Howard Government to introduce a "Social Charter", to make the banks take responsibility for their customer's needs, and breathe some legislative life into the rhetoric of the banks "community obligation".
It's an "obligation" the banks, left to self-regulate, have been gleefully ignoring. As FSU Assistant National Secretary Geoff Derrick observes, "since 1993, 2,000 bank branches have closed and 40,000 industry jobs have disappeared - while banks have deposited a $40 billion profit."
Carol has worked at the Minto branch. She knows the customers - the unemployed and the pensioners, single mothers, local small business operators. This is battler country, on the south-western fringe of the city. Far from the decision makers in Martin Place, drawing the razor through the branch list. The battlers keep the Minto branch busy, but not sufficiently profitable by the aggressive standards of corporate finance. "It was the last bank left in Minto", Carol says.
Two or three times a week, Mellissa Cutmore and her daughter April walked to the bank. Did a bit of banking: probably had a bit of a chat. "The ATM's not like the teller service", Mellissa says. "My parents don't even know how to use an ATM". Mellissa and April brought their own, hand-made contribution to the FSU's protest.
Carol also believes the closure will slowly kill Minto Mall. The adjacent pet shop is closing up, the bank shutdown the last straw. Long-distance banking has little appeal for small business operators.
Across the road, some of the locals sit and wait for the bus. They probably don't realise that they have not done enough to build shareholder value. They just wanted a bank, part of the framework of a community. Now blank glass panels stare back at that them. That used to be the pet shop. That was our bank.
Truly we are living in a world of incredible change, as many speakers have said. Fifteen years ago the word globalisation had not been invented. The Internet had yet to invade our lives. The Berlin Wall was still in place. It was also the height of neo-liberal arrogance in promoting economic fundamentalism. And fifteen years ago anybody suggesting that a Chilean ILO Director-General would be addressing an ICFTU World Congress in free South Africa on globalising social justice would have been directed to the nearest psychiatrist.
But here I am and here you are now. How was this possible? Well, you and all those who came before you helped to make it happen. Truly, through your fifty years of struggle you and your predecessors have fashioned in the ICFTU a remarkable organisation, together with the national centres and the ITS. You have to be proud of your role as an institution.
Yesterday I listened with rising emotion to Deputy President Zuma and Brother Vavi talking about their struggle and how you made it your struggle too. They led the way. Struggles are always nationally led. But you stayed the course with them. You mobilised worldwide for justice in this beautiful country. I look at this audience and I see enormous energy, still ready for future struggles. I see women and men formed by lives dedicated to making their country a better place.
But I also see over a thousand global citizens sitting in this room. Your pride in your country is enlarged by your sense of belonging to the global family of free trade unionism. At no other world congress do people routinely call themselves sister and brother. You are the first family of global citizens. You have been generous to me in many ways but most of all I thank you for making me feel a member of your global family. You fight together for workers rights everywhere because you know, without even having to think about it, that your own freedom is diminished by oppression in other countries. I and my fellow Chileans owe you a lot for what you have done, and are continuing to do, to help us enlarge and secure our freedoms.
I just wish my friend Manuel Bustos who died last year could be here today. You all knew Manuel. He was a leader in the unions and a member of our Parliament, a national figure who symbolised the linkage to the international struggle. He would have wished to join me in thanking you on behalf of Chilean democrats for your unquestioning solidarity in our dark hours. But now we are here in South Africa. South Africans' struggle for freedom is indelibly linked to the city of Durban.
It was here in 1973 that over 100,000 workers went on strike in demand for decent wages and the right to belong to trade unions of their choice. This was at a time when it was illegal for black Africans to belong to trade unions and the strike led to the birth of the democratic trade union movement in this country. I want to honour the workers who participated in that action, the leaders who called that strike and those who fell in the struggle. And it was this movement that rocked and ultimately cracked the apartheid system. I am sure that the special spirit of Durban and South Africa will make this conference an overwhelming success. I also want to say how happy I am to be in Africa - a continent I love and admire. This is my third trip to Africa in my first year of office --- Windhoek, Abidjan and now Durban.
As I salute your achievements of the past, let me put before you our common challenge for the future. Globalising Social Justice. You have prepared an excellent report to guide our discussions. I commend that report and encourage you to use it widely beyond the ICFTU. The ILO can work with you on that. Globalisation as we know it today will not survive unless its benefits reach more people. It has yet to pass the test of social legitimacy. It is not working for billions of people. We cannot continue down the track of increasingly deregulated national economies toward a growing unregulated global economy.
We hear a lot that globalisation cannot be changed and is inevitable. I believe that some of its components - the revolution in information technology is only in its infancy and is here to stay. But we have to expose as a lie the idea that all we can do is adapt to globalisation. It simply is not true. Policies have also shaped globalisation and they can be changed. If the current model of globalisation does not change it will not survive. Our joint task is to shape the process so that the power and potential of the global market, the knowledge economy and the network society reaches every nation, every village every household.
In the ILO we believe that the basic test of the global economy will be its capacity to deliver decent work for all. That is my litmus test for globalisation. If it can be organised to deliver for people, it will have proved its worth. We have made a start by winning support for the decent work agenda.
This is not an intellectual idea, a mere concept, or a notion. It is the most deeply felt aspiration of people in all societies, developed and developing. It's the way ordinary women and men express their needs and judge an important part of the quality of their lives. You know better than any others that if you go out on the streets or in the fields and ask people what they want, in the midst of the new uncertainties that globalisation has brought upon all of us, the answer is, work. Work to meet the needs of their families in safety and health, educate their children, and offer them income security after retirement, work in which they are treated decently and their basic rights are respected. That is what decent work is about. And it's about reaching everyone.
Maybe Walter Reuther said it best, you cannot build an automobile economy on bicycle wages. Well according to my view, you cannot build a knowledge economy ignoring workers' rights. This is a strong simple message. Decent Work is built on the foundation of fundamental principles and rights. The ILO is a values driven organisation. The mechanism for getting action is social dialogue. We are owned by the social partners and it is mobilising the power of tripartism that is our unique contribution to the multilateral system. Our goals are more and better jobs for all women and men and effective social protection. I also have to share something with you that is very important for me. That I am the first Director-General in the ILO's eighty-year history to come from the Southern Hemisphere. However much one is committed to universal values, each of us brings our own personal experience. In my case that means that I must look at the ILO's work with a special sensitivity as to how people in developing countries will view it. That is why unemployment is so important.
In the North, however hard the experience of unemployment, there is generally some safety net. In the South lose your job and you are out. Our task is to marry the historical ILO agenda of rights and social protection with the development and jobs dimension.
That will give us our global rationale. Unemployment is one of the biggest enemies of workers rights. It is also the major cause of poverty. That is why we put a great deal of emphasis on small business promotion because as we all know that is where the new jobs start. But it is also where we find some of the worst working conditions: hence our priority on social protection through safework and the establishment and expansion of social security systems.
Today we are facing the simultaneous but diverging expansion of the informal economy on the one hand and the knowledge economy on the other. This is the fundamental product of globalisation and we have to build bridges between the two. I believe they must be based upon small enterprises. But they are also the least organised. In my recent visit to India, for example, I was asked what are we going to do for the 92% of workers who are not organised. This is the potential we have to unlock.
I share with you the conviction that without respect for workers rights there can be no decent work in the world economy. Open economies and open societies are good provided they deliver the goods for ordinary working families. Saying no to the race to the bottom is saying yes to equity and fairness. This means looking at globalisation through the eyes of people. I know and understand the position of the ICFTU on trade and labour standards.
Your achievement has been to move this question right to the top of the international policy agenda making it the everyday staple of newspaper articles and editorials across the world. When people say the trade and labour debate is not going to go away they are essentially saying that the ICFTU, ITSs and national unions has made a strong and coherent case that requires response. At the same time, it would be a disservice to your members, and to the ILO as an institution, to put on hold the ILO's constitutional duty to promote fundamental workers' rights world-wide, with all the means at its disposal, until results emerge from the WTO or any other place. As I have said repeatedly, I am committed to taking whatever may eventually emerge from the WTO in relation to the ILO to our Governing Body for decision and action. But in the meantime we must press ahead with the ILO agenda. But above all we must continue working together and being a part of those who make society change.
After all the ILO is the only organisation of the international system in which organised labour has a seat at the decision-making table. The ICFTU and the ITS have created conditions for major progress in the ILO. The work of the ICFTU and your members on the Governing Body has helped us to spotlight violations of union rights and improve our ability to remedy them and stop them occurring in the first place. I want to underline my own particular responsibility for the security of trade union leaders world-wide. I want you to know that whenever a life is threatened or one of your colleagues is imprisoned I intervene. There are different ways of doing it, picking up a phone, making a public statement. This is my personal responsibility and I want you to hold me to it.
The ICFTU contributed decisively to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998. This was an historic commitment by all member states to respect workers rights in all circumstances. It contains important follow-up mechanisms, which enable us to monitor how they are living up to that commitment. Just two weeks ago we published the first annual synthesis report on the situation in countries that have not ratified the fundamental rights Conventions. It brought out a number of issues and a wealth of practical information which, without that procedure would have remained hidden. It was a good start, and we must build on it.
You all, national centres, ITS and the ICFTU as a family, will get out of it what you put in. You have a right to comment on government replies. This is a new mechanism. It is in your hands, and I appeal to you to work with the ILO to make it a success. And at this year's Conference, you will have the first global report on freedom of association. It will take a cold hard look at trends in the observance of trade union rights around the world, and the reasons for violations, and what must be done by the ILO and others to stop them. Stopping violations before they happen is after all the main goal. The new Declaration is deliberately designed to add that promotional dimension to the ILO's rights agenda. Of the more than sixty governments who submitted annual reports, forty one said yes we have problems and asked for ILO technical assistance to tackle them.
We must not give up on those who ask for help. In the context of freedom of association, I see three priorities:
- Ensuring that all workers are able to form and join a trade union without fear of intimidation or reprisal;
- Encouraging an open and constructive attitude by business and public employers to the freely chosen representation of employees through a trade union, as well as the development of agreed methods of bargaining and other forms of co-operation concerning conditions of work;
- Recognition by public authorities and business that the good governance of the labour market, based on respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, makes a major contribution to economic, political and social development.
It must be a foundation of international economic integration, the enlargement of democracy and the fight against poverty. At the same time we have to make the point that good labour relations are good for enterprise performance and good for social stability. At the same time your colleagues in the Workers' Group of the ILO Governing Body are using long-established procedures to good effect. Even since I have been here, several delegates have told me of the significance of last week's Committee on Freedom of Association decision on Australia and of the recent mission to Colombia.
But it is to the case of Burma that I particularly want to draw your attention. All of you know of the horror of forced labour in that country. Indeed it was the ICFTU that launched the original complaint about it at the ILO, leading to a Commission of Enquiry investigation. It was the Burmese government's, Myanmar's, refusal to apply the recommendations of the Commission's findings that last week led the Governing Body of the ILO for the first time in its 80 year history to invoke Article 33 of its Constitution. Basically Article 33 permits the Conference to decide on "such action as it may deem wise and expedient to secure compliance" with the Commission's recommendations.
This June, the Conference will have within its power to call upon member states and international organisations to do whatever it takes to end forced labour in Burma... I will not belabour the point further. At your last Congress you essentially called on the ILO to punch its weight in the multilateral system. I very much agreed with you at the time and I have made it a priority since taking office as Director-General just over a year ago. I have said repeatedly that the multilateral system is grossly underperforming in meeting the challenges of globalisation.
It is as if each international organisation is stuck in its narrow bureaucratic box with little reference to what the others are doing. This has to be replaced by integrated thinking and coherent action. I want the ILO to be a leading player on a strong team. We have already made a good start in that direction. Our Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalisation is the only multilateral forum for discussion in this area. It can become the focal point for this debate. It met last week and agreed an ambitious programme of work. And most importantly for the first time, it heard presentations from representatives of other key agencies like the IMF, World Bank and the WTO.
This is a dialogue we will develop in the future. We have also contributed strongly to the preparations for the Social Summit plus 5 Special Session of the UN General Assembly. We are tooling up the international system to do the job ahead; working together to end Africa's debt bondage, to avert repetitions of the Asian crisis and to put poverty reduction at the heart of multilateral action. But any superstructure of global governance will founder without strong foundations in grass root organisation. And organising is your speciality and your priority here at Congress. The foundations of the hundreds of organisations you represent are millions of workplaces where women and men have found a shared interest in getting together to better their everyday lives and those of their families and communities. And those workplaces are changing at a pace never seen before. With it, communities are in turmoil. Family life is changing. And people are changing. So your organisations have to change too, as described in the Congress Report. It is not easy.
We all know change is not easy. It took enormous effort and sacrifice to build your movement. You have had to defend it on numerous occasions from fierce attack, and are still having to defend it today. But as you know better than me, the structures and methods of the twentieth century will not work in the twenty first century. In the twentieth century, you fought the battle for existence, recognition and influence. In the twenty-first century, you will face the challenge of growth and continuing relevance in the eyes of society.
Your inheritance, in most countries, was strong male dominated unions in the large factories, offices, mines and plantations of a mass production economy. Your future is in the booming knowledge networks and in the sprawling informal economy. Like it or not that is where the work is going and the women and men in those sectors need representation. The fight for equality is one of your most powerful organising motors. If unions can show that they are truly committed to that cause, and practice what they preach, maybe you could eventually double your membership.
Equal opportunity means women occupying leadership posts everywhere --- at the top of the ILO, I have asked our government, employers and trade unions, to make a major effort to increase the representation of women on our Governing Body -- and the ICFTU, all organisations. I profoundly believe in the equality agenda in our organisations and in all the work that we do. It is about the future of our societies and democratising work.
This is not just words or political correctness it is much more. It is about reaching people. When I travel I make a point of visiting ILO projects. Recently in India I went to one where we were working to have street children make the transition into school, while generating income opportunities for their mothers. Talking to those mothers they told me what really mattered in their lives. Securing food and education for their children. But they also told me that when income came into the family through women it went directly to meeting these basic needs. When it came through men some how some of it always got lost. And in that simple truth I saw all cultures, I saw Latin America. This is no joke, its reality. And let me show you this pin. It is for a march on Wednesday against violence and discrimination against women.
Unfortunately I will not be able to join it, I leave this afternoon, but I urge you all to join tomorrow's equality march. I see the ILO's job as being to help unions in their organising work. We need to learn how to innovate, together. Taking your existing members through the maelstrom of globalisation is a massive challenge to you. I would like the ILO to accompany you on this journey, with a massive programme of capacity building and training for union organisers. I said that your structures and methods will have to change. But do not change your values. They are enduring and they are universal. They have made you what you are. And they are the key to rethinking structures and methods. They will guide you in addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century. And by the way, innovative initiatives are underway.
Take Washtech, an affiliate of the Communication Workers of America, which is organising well paid hi-tech workers employed in Seattle. Or SEWA in India, organising self-employed women. You are the first to know that organising makes you strong and generates respect and dignity in society. As I said to you four years ago in Brussels - and thank you for inviting me both in 1996 and 2000, you honour by this -- you can draw strength too from alliances with others in civil society who share your goals. I know the controversies. Reaching out has risks attached. But there is tremendous potential there, and a certain responsibility to make it happen. You are unparalleled in your representativeness and that confers extraordinary legitimacy.
You represent 125 million people and you are democratically elected to do so. That does not exist anywhere else. It gives you a responsibility to reach out to others and their aspirations. Let me end by saying that the cynics are always there. I know because I keep meeting them and they keep telling me that what I am trying to do won't work. But do not listen to them, it's a waste of time. They were the ones who said slavery could not be abolished, that women would never win the right to vote, that colonialism could not be ended, that the Berlin Wall would never fall and that apartheid would not be defeated. According to them trade unions would never exist.
But we have chosen to make society better. That means swimming against the current, taking the difficult road. It is our sureness of purpose and self-belief in representing working women and men that sustains us. Let us refuse the indifference of these days. Let me end by reiterating my firm conviction that the ICFTU can take a leading role in a massive worldwide campaign for globalising social justice
by Michelle Burrell
Respected Australian actor and advocate of tenants rights, Michael Caton star from "The Castle" officially launched the kit We can't share the spirit if we cant afford the rent at a public forum on 29 March at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.
Every Olympic Games leaves a legacy. The Olympic industry encourages us to recall medal counts and records broken. The legacy Rentwatchers can see is a segregated city. Our records will be in the numbers of people forced to leave or forced to pay excessive rent.
There is a crisis in housing. The government needs to govern. If they can keep a torch alight under water then the Government should be able to keep a roof over people's heads".
Over 150 local people applauded as the proof file showing the detrimental affect of the Olympics on tenants was released. The kit graphically demonstrated the adverse social impact of the 2000 Olympics on housing in Sydney. The success of the evening can be attributed to members of the audience providing personal accounts of evictions and rent increases.
Concerned residents from the local area condemned the inaction of the state government in protecting the rights of tenants against unscrupulous landlords and real estate agents.
Landowners and Agents the Winners
Over the last two years there have been dramatic rises in Sydney rents. In the lead-up to the Olympics this has become more pronounced. Nick Warren, Policy Officer at the Tenant's Union said that Tenancy Services inner Sydney have seen a near doubling of calls about terminations. Another indication is the escalated number of eviction matters being heard by the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. The Tribunal is taking 125 termination related applications per day.
Rents are monitored quarterly by the Department of Urban affairs and planning, based on the information on new tenancies collected by the Rental Bond Board. The reports for September, and December 1999 are bad news for tenants showing that the increases in the "Olympic corridor" and out to Bondi are as high as 30%
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia to live in, with rents 40% higher than Melbourne. The median rent for a one bedroom property in South Sydney, Waverly or Leichardt costs $340. A two bedroom property in Waverley will cost you $500, $445 in Leichardt and $400 in South Sydney.
Tenancy laws are failing to protect tenants in the lead up to the Games. The NSW Government is promoting the Sydney Olympic games by calling on Australians to 'share the spirit', invoking the ancient ideals of the games: fairness, community, solidarity and celebration of diversity. At the same time, however the Government is turning a blind eye to the plight of many Sydney siders particularly in regard to housing.
Boarders and lodgers do not have specific legislative rights and are specifically exempted from protection under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and can be evicted with little notice or right to a hearing at the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. Rent can be increased with little notice. In the lead up to the 1988 Bicentennial over 5,000 low cost rooms were lost across the inner city through conversion of boarding houses to cheap backpacker accommodation or expensive units. The bicentennial was a picnic in the park compared to the Olympics.
Rentwatchers believes that the economic bonanza brought about by the Olympics will adversely affect those sections of the community who are already most vulnerable.
Anita Beaty, from the Atlanta Homelessness Taskforce and Atlanta Olympics 1996 activist stated "I can tell you that a major event like the Olympics can turn decent progressive people into very greedy, speculative people. You cannot be too careful, you cannot be too vigilant. We did it wrong, y'all can do it right".
Rentwatchers is a community coalition for the protection of tenants and the housing rights of low income residents of Sydney. For more information contact Rentwatchers on 9698 7277 or 9398 6366
Contemporary Australian society seems overwhelmed by social problems. At a time of apparent economic prosperity, community anxiety about family breakdown, drug abuse, gambling, youth suicide, violence and home invasion continues to mount. Widespread ambivalence about the benefits of economic change is reflected in a rising tide of community concern about negative social consequences.
These social problems broadly reflect steadily increasing loneliness, alienation and social exclusion. Although these things are diff1cult to quantify, there can be little doubt that since the late 1960s our society has seen the collapse or erosion of many of the social structures around which people built relationships, personal worth and belonging.
The decline of rigid family and social structures and enormous advances in transport and communications have been tremendously liberating. Yet greater freedom for all has been accompanied by greater isolation and loneliness for many.
Older people are more readily abandoned to a lonely existence by more physically and emotionally remote families. Young people lacking the key attributes of physical appearance, personal wealth and social appeal are more easily excluded from social participation. Retrenched middle-aged workers are cut loose from their primary source of person al identity and self-esteem, with little hope of regaining it. Many individuals carry the appalling label "loser", the modern social equivalent of leper.
A recent letter I received from a middle-aged single mother from Glen Waverley very poignantly expressed the devastating effects of social exclusion. She talked of the social devaluation she has experienced in a middle class suburban community as a result of leaving her abusive husband and struggling to care for several children, some with significant disabilities, on her own.
There is a loneliness crisis out there. More and more people are excluded, alienated and despairing. The proliferation of gambling, drug abuse, suicide and family breakdown reflects this surge in social dislocation. We are living in an increasingly alienated community. The fact that the sections of my book Open Australia, which deal with these issues, were highlighted by tabloid newspapers and largely ignored by the quality media indicates the nature and extent of the problem. Loneliness and alienation may not be big issues in the top end of town, but they are in the general community.
A recent study found that 10 per cent of elderly Australians see another person on average less than twice a week. The physical dispersion of friends and family coupled with high transport costs and physical mobility problems ensures that many people live lonely, isolated lives. (1)
Different forms of isolation are experienced by many young people. In amongst the commentary about media culture and gun control arising from the recent Denver school massacre were some telling observations about the psychological background to the tragedy. "We thought of them as losers and dorks," said one classmate of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. "He really felt unloved. He was lonely," said another about Klebold. (2) Although the explanations behind this tragedy are complex, loneliness and social exclusion clearly played a significant role.
The origins of this crisis lie in the extraordinarily powerful forces of individualism generated by technological and economic change and magnified by the associated social revolution of the 1960s. Virtually all of the social and economic structures around which people built their lives have either disintegrated or changed beyond recognition. Neighbourhood is anonymous, marriage is temporary, gender roles have disappeared, hard work is not appreciated, and behaving properly and decently no longer matters. Or at least this is how it seems.
The two collective belief systems which have enabled people to organise their lives around certain principles and assumptions, religion and socialism, are in serious decline. The previously dominant role of tradition is receding rapidly, with concomitant loss of predictability and certainty for many people.
This erosion of individual identity and self-worth is occurring in the workplace as well as outside it. In his new book The Corrosion of Character, Richard Sennett provides telling illustrations of the personal disorientation emerging from the new world of work. (3) He contrasts the emotional stability of Enrico, an elderly janitor, with the social turmoil and family tensions of his highly paid consultant son, Rico. He high lights the change in a Boston bakery, where a traditional work environment of clearly defined roles and heavy work has been superseded by an antiseptic environment of transient, non-committal workers lacking occupational identity and self-respect. Sennett even shows how the pervasive fashion for teamwork in the workplace contributes to personal disorientation without generating greater individual empowerment. (4)
The wave of economic restructuring which swept through our economy in the 1980s and 1990s is clearly central to these changes in the workplace and society. Enthusiastic advocates of economic change often fail to acknowledge that this transformation is undermining the non-market family and community structures which underpin the market economy.
The free market system depends upon an elaborate network of community relationships and social trust in order to function properly. A system based on contractual relations requires a certain level of social predictability and long-term stability. Rampant individualism and the culture of instant gratification, and the social problems they engender, threaten to undermine capitalism almost as much as they have under mined socialism. It may be difficult to prove this point statistically, but it is nonetheless valid. As one recent commentator on globalisation remarked: "It is easy to prove that uncompetitive practices are inefficient, while the chain of consequences that runs from social stability to economic growth is far more complex. (5)
Human beings are driven partly by the need for recognition. Our need for material well-being is supplemented by a very powerful need to be loved, respected, admired and valued. Obviously the precise nature of this need for recognition varies enormously from one person to another, but it is nonetheless a very powerful factor in human behaviour.
Our society is experiencing growing inequality of recognition which in many ways resembles increasing inequality in wealth and income. In the prevailing culture of individualism, the innate worth of an individual is devalued, and largely superseded by external characteristics such as physical appearance, education and personal wealth. A cult of success has engulfed our community discourse, with intense competition permeating almost all forms of human activity. Those who are losers suffer social devaluation which can lead quickly into alienation and loneliness, and the many social pathologies which social exclusion tends to breed.
The rise of cosmetic surgery, eating disorders, and celebrity magazines all reflect this trend. Anthony Giddens argues that individuals in western societies now create their own identities. (6) A much smaller pro portion of the individual's identity is socially predetermined, and hence he or she is far more reliant on the vagaries of the "recognition market place". Adopting Sennett's phrase the creation of identity is now dominated by "the association of the flexible and the fluid with the superficial". (7)
Growing loneliness and alienation translates into a variety of social and economic problems. Recently the Royal Australian College of Physicians called for action to address rising inequality, which they identified as a key contributor to serious health problems. They referred to the negative health consequences of social exclusion and workplace change. (8) At a recent conference on ageing Professor Hal Kendig of Sydney University argued that loneliness and isolation amongst older people leads to poorer health outcomes. (9)
In a fascinating recent article in the Guardian Weekly, Mari Marcel-Thekaekara described a visit to Europe by members of an extremely poor indigenous people from Tamil Nadu in southern India. The contrasting nature of poverty in Glasgow's infamous Easterhouse estate was evident.
"Suddenly we were hit by the reality of the poverty in Glasgow. Most of the men in Easterhouse hadn't had a job in 20 years. They were dispirited, depressed, often alcoholic. Their self-esteem had gone. Emotionally and mentally they were far worse off than the poor where we worked in India, even though the physical trappings of poverty were less stark". (10)
Some commentators now argue that social exclusion is as serious a problem as material poverty. (11) Clearly there are some very practical reasons why governments should treat the problems of loneliness and alienation seriously.
The origins of these problems lie in the extraordinary wave of social change which swept through Western societies in the 1960s and 1970s. Driven by powerful forces of technological change such as television and the pill, this surge of change was profoundly individualistic in nature. Most of the major causes which characterised the youth revolt of this era, such as sexual freedom, anti-conscription, feminism and gay liberation, were driven primarily by powerful notions of individual rights. The prevailing material affluence of the period con tributed to the emergence of a new ethos of personal consumption and experimentation. (12)
Unfortunately since that time our society has experienced a substantial increase in family breakdown, drug abuse, youth suicide and other serious social problems. These phenomena were not caused by the 1960s revolution, but are consequences of the same social and economic forces which produced that revolution.
British researchers Michael Schluter and David Lee argue that the entire social dynamics of Western societies have changed radically since this time. They contend that human relationships are now much more governed by choice and much less by obligation than in previous times. In the new "mega-community" of human existence, individuals are more anonymous within their immediate surroundings and less con strained by ties of social obligation. Relationships are more conditional, and much less determined by traditional social structures. (13)
As a result, individuals are more able to avoid the bonds of inherently unequal relationships, where they give more and receive less. They can move away from socially dependent grandparents, or distance themselves from unpopular and unattractive class-mates. Under what Professor Bruce Singh of the Melbourne University Department of Psychology calls "the dogma of freedom", individualism and the pre dominance of choice over obligation are eroding community structures of social inclusion. (14)
It is time to rethink our approach to relationships and social inclusion. As Schluter observes, "On the left, the commitment to freedom of choice in personal lifestyle and individual rights has led into a political cul-de-sac." (15) This does not imply turning back the clock, or reimposing the social constraints of the past. Nostalgia for a world that has passed is no foundation for good policy. Liberation from the conformism and social oppression of the past has been a very positive development for our society. We have to deal with the associated negative changes without reversing the advances we have made.
Until the 1960s, the "guiding story" of our society was material progress. (16) In the wake of the 1960s revolution, personal development and individual freedom have emerged as a new guiding story. These powerful impulses have now all but exhausted themselves. Simplistic concepts of liberation no longer provide the answers to contemporary social problems. Our most pressing problems are a reflection of insufficient order and stability rather than the absence of rights and freedoms. A new guiding story is required.
Our new social objective should be ensuring that all individuals have a capacity to participate in our society. This offers a philosophical foundation for social institutions which counteract the dominance of individualism. Society has an obligation to ensure that all its members are able to belong. Ensuring a capacity to participate extends beyond the fulfilment of basic material needs, and entails a mutual obligation to contribute to the community in some way.
Society has an obligation to ensure that individuals are not unduly deprived of a viable social context by the unfettered operation of free markets. This transcends mere equality of opportunity, but does not extend to ensuring equality of outcomes. Governments must play a role in counteracting growing loneliness and alienation by ensuring that all citizens have access to the means of social inclusion.
Our society is interwoven with countless organisations which build and sustain community and which provide individuals with a capacity to participate. Some are government bodies, some are government-funded, and some are entirely independent of government. They include community health centres, neighbourhood houses, sporting clubs, playgroups and residents associations. Because the left tends to focus on the role of the state, and the right on the role of the individual, the importance of these organisations is widely undervalued.
Conservative governments around the country are gradually dismantling or undermining many of these community organisations and thus exacerbating problems of social exclusion and alienation. The federal government has virtually destroyed Skillshare and similar community organisations which played a critical role in ensuring greater inclusion within the labour market. The Victorian Government has dismantled tenants associations on Melbourne's public housing estates. The focus of community involvement, participation and belonging which the tenants associations delivered has been destroyed.
The most recent example of this headlong rush to atomisation is the attempt to impose voluntary student unionism on Australia's campuses. As a result of the Howard Government's obsession with a highly artificial notion of freedom of association, many vitally important nodes of participation will be destroyed.
When I arrived at Melbourne University as a 17-year-old from the country, I knew virtually no-one, and had been on campus only once before. My ability to integrate into the campus community, participate in collective activity and develop a sense of identity and belonging was provided by the student union. Through running and funding countless clubs, activities and structures, student unions provide nodes of participation which enable individuals to meet like-minded people, make friends, and be involved in activities outside their formal academic activities. No matter how bizarre some of these things may be, they all perform the same function: providing individuals with somewhere to belong.
In this case, freedom of association simply means less association. It means a diminished capacity to participate and ultimately more social exclusion and loneliness. For those who do not turn up to their first year at university in the company of fifteen friends from their year 12 class, the social consequences are likely to be considerable.
Building a new community framework to counter alienation, social exclusion and loneliness should start with a renewed commitment to such organisations. Their intrinsic value is far greater than the sum total of the services they provide. This does not require heavy handed intervention by government, but in some cases little more than greater awareness of the real value of some things governments already do. The Home and Community Care program plays a vital role in alleviating isolation and loneliness among many elderly people, yet its ostensible rationale is the direct provision of particular services.
Greater assistance to community organisations which provide people with a place to participate and belong should be a priority for government. The emerging University of the Third Age movement pro vides such a focus for older people with limited assistance from government. It is time we rediscovered compassion, and recognised that dollars are not necessarily the primary currency of social inclusion and
In an era of dramatic change and profound insecurity, a new role for government is required. Sustaining the bonds of community and relationships has not been a major focus of government in western societies. The new society that is evolving demands a different role for government, one which includes strengthening community and social relationships in the face of endless encroachment by markets and technology and the intense individualism they tend to foster.
This is a paper delivered by Lindsay Tanner, Federal Labor Member for Melbourne, and author of Open Australia (Pluto Press 1999), to the Sydney Institute last year.
Workers Online is hosting a chat with Lindsay on the ideas in this article at 1pm Friday, April 14 in the Virtual Trades Hall - http://www.labor.net.au
by Dr Lucy Taksa
When not writing and singing his and other labour songs, John Lund is a Professor of labour education and industrial relations at the School for Workers at the University of Wisconsin. John is also a faculty member in law and industrial engineering. He is originally a member of Operating Engineers Local 701 in Portland, Oregon and prior to the last fifteen years in labour education, was a union representative, union researcher and organiser.
The School for Workers is the oldest university-based labour education program in North America; John's work there involves teaching, research and providing technical assistance to unions in industrial engineering, job evaluation, compensation systems, new technology, labour law, organizing, union administration and use of computer technology. John is currently a visiting professor at the School of Industrial Relations at the University of New South Wales.
The Delegate's Lament
Words: John Lund
Tune: Wildwood Flower
Who is this worker of lowly pay
Looking so haggard, hair's gone to gray
Gets no sleep, day nor night
Always wrong, never right.
Doesn't have a law degree
But goes to bat for you and me
Knows the hows, whys and whens
All the problems known to men
Awards and clauses, annual leave
Penalty pay and when to grieve
Super-annuation, working tools
Management rights and union dues.
When with the boss the delegate agrees
Then s/he's the sellout with weak knees
If to the workers s/he seems to cater
Then they're a Communist agitator.
Everyday somebody will complain
Their union has gone and screwed up again
The person who has to take this slop
Is only the delegate of your shop.
TQM is simple
Words: John Lund, @1996
Tune: "Tis a gift to be simple"
TQM is simple, very simple indeed
It's trying to figure out what your customers need
You problem solve, you act on fact
You listen to your folks
It'll change your business
It's really not a joke
1. It isn't something simple, it's been done o'er and o'er
The consultants say it's really hot, let's try it out once more
While their meter keeps on running and the meetings never end
We will reinvent the wheel and then we'll do it all again.
2. We go to lots of meetings where on one big team we play
And we practice problem-solving, gee, it's fun to learn this way
While we build our paper aeroplanes and we draw our fishbone charts
But what this has to do with work is way beyond my smarts.
3. Oh Pareto charts are wonderful and scattergrams are nice
But there's hardly any workers here, the suits are thick as lice
No they haven't got the message, no they haven't got a clue
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem too.
4. We really want your input, to our meetings you must come
We will fill the wall with flip charts, we'll facilitate each one
And when we've picked your brains clean of these new ideas of yours
We will pick your pockets, steal your jobs, leave you insecure.
5. I once read a book by Deming it had written thirteen rules
Get rid of quotas, drive out fear and many other jewels
But the meaning for our managers is really common sense
You must practice what you preach or you'll be the past tense.
THE WORKERS' MARSEILLAISE
Ye sons of toll, awake to glory!
Hark, hark, what myriads bid you rise;
our children, wives and gradsires hoary -
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
Behold their tears and hear their cries!
Shall hateful tyrants mischief breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band -
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding!
To arms! to arms! ye brave!
Th' avenging sword unsheathe!
March on, march on, all hearts resolved
On Victory or Death.
With luxury and pride surrounded,
The vile, insatiable despots dare,
Their thirst for gold and power unbounded,
To mete and vend the light and air,
To mete and vend the light and air,
Like beasts of burden, would they load us,
Like gods would bid their slaves adore,
But Man is Man, and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us?
O Liberty! can man resign thee?
Once having felt the generous flame,
Can dungeon's bolts and bars confine thee?
Or whips, thy noble spirit tame?
Or whips, thy noble spirit tame?
Too long the world has wept bewailing,
That Falsehood's dagger tyrants wield;
But Freedom is our sword and shield;
And all their arts are unavailing!
You starving members of the unemployed, Why starve?
We have produced enough.
The warehouses are overflowing with the things we need. WHY STARVE?
Songs of the International Workers of the World.
Published by the I.W.W.
H. Cook and Company, Sydney.
Courtesy of the Mitchell Library.
Ralph H. Chaplin
(Tune: "John Brown's Body").
When the Union's inspiration through the worker's blood
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun,
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?
But the Union makes us strong.
For the Union makes us strong.
Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left for us but to organize and fight?
For the Union makes us strong.
It is we who plowed the prairies; built the cities where they trade,
Dug the mines and built the workshops; endless miles of railroad laid.
Now we stand, outcast and starving, mid the wonders we have made;
But the Union makes us strong.
All the world that's owned by idle drones, is ours and ours alone.
We have laid the wide foundations; built it skywards, stone by stone.
It is ours, and not to slave in, but to master and to own,
While the Union makes us strong.
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power; gain our freedom, when we learn
That the Union makes us strong.
Songs of the International Workers of the World.
Published by the I.W.W.
H. Cook and Company, Sydney
Courtesy of the Mitchell Library.
The phenomenal ratings success of Seven's new show Popstars has made the network rush to develop similar shows to cash in on the craze for shows which straddle the great divide between fame and ordinariness.
Seven is attempting to stay ahead of the other networks such as Ten, which has filmed a pilot of a show which turns five ordinary Australian girls into porn starlets. The show will be called Pop Tarts.
The new show, Falling Stars, will take existing minor celebrities and seek to remodel them into ordinary members of the public. The show has auditioned hundreds of people who have, in general, only fleetingly entered the public eye, but they have now rejected hopefuls such as Tanya Zaetta, Greg Evans, Tim Finn, Denise Drysdale and Richard Zachariah to announce the five semi-stars who will undergo the process.
Tanya Blencoe was the first to apply, and was immediately accepted by the show's producer, Karen Jameson. "When Tanya threw her hat in the ring, we knew we had to have her," she said. "In most cases we're returning the celebrities to suburban normality as a macabre social experiment, as in Popstars, but in Tanya's case it's more of a charitable act. She has never lived down that daggy Olympic bid stuff." Blencoe is very enthusiastic about the project. "What I really want is to expunge my name from everyone's mind, so I can walk into a bank and open an account without the tellers
sniggering at me, but it would also be nice to get back on TV even for an episode or two," said Blencoe, who admits she can still perform her trite speech from the bid by heart, along with the excruciating, forced hand gestures that appealed so much to the IOC delegates.
Joining her will be Bernard King, self-styled celebrity chef and occasional star of such shows gone by as Pot Luck. "When I was reduced to making those Impala kitchen ads, I knew it was time to beat a hasty retreat from public life," said a regretful King. "I was really upset when I surrendered the title of Australia's premier television curmudgeon to Red Symons, but I'm over it now." King admits that his primary motivation for seeking irrelevancy is his sex life, which he claims has suffered greatly from his status as a fallen star. "An elderly gentleman such as myself is usually able to dispel the impression that he's past it if he's as wealthy as I am, but I haven't had much luck lately," he said. "I think the younger generation have obtained from somewhere or other the impression that I am uncool."
Another other ailed Star-to-be is the pop singer Colette, who did so much to promote lycra products with her 1988 hit 'Ring My Bell' and has been experiencing regular sexual harassment ever since. Her cover of Carole King's classic tune with its bizarre metaphor for sex has led to a progression of men politely enquiring about bellringing opportunities every time she goes to a bar, and she has lost count of the number of Quasimodo jokes she had to endure. "Thank God no-one ever knew my surname, or I'd get even more people at my door, playing ring-and-run," she sighed. "I have decided that I don't like being a one-hit wonder, so I jumped at this opportunity to be a non-hit non-wonder.
The remaining stars who will be expunging themselves from public memory are cricketer Scott Muller, who is now more famous for his inadequacy than anything else, and former Family Feud host Rob Brough, whose family abandoned him because it was sick of putting up with questions about all of the fights that went on in the Brough household. "If I can get rid of Family Feud, maybe I can get my own family back," he hopes. "And if I can't get them back, perhaps I can meet someone who won't associate me with domestic violence."
During the show's 12-week run, the participants will perform a range of activities designed to remove them entirely from public memory. Colette will dye her hair black and change her name to Madge, while Scott Muller will join the Socceroos in order to achieve his own obscurity. Rob Brough will host a revitalised Hey Hey It's Saturday on Optus Vision, and Tanya Blencoe will move to a hippie commune near Nimbin, which has absolutely no televisions, until after the Olympics.
Sadly, not every Falling Stars participant succeeds in their quest forfreedom. Bernard King decides that he hasn't the stomach to leave the public eye entirely, and signs to host a cooking show on Dubbo radio. He also renews his contract with Impala.
by Roland Stephens
This is the first book I have read that has been published in the new Century - which is quite appropriate given what the author sets out to achieve. Keating provides a comprehensive coverage and analysis/ justification of foreign policy under his Prime Ministership and uses this to both draw lessons and suggest directions for the new Century.
Keating's meaty vocabulary and lyrical turn of phrase make this book at once engaging, entertaining and enlightening. His ability to convey policy complexities to a broad audience, without diminishing the substance of his thesis is as evident here as it was in his period as Treasurer.
The book, as the title suggests, focuses on Australia's growing defence, trade and cultural relationships with other nations in its region. But it also ranges through our relationship with the US, UK and Europe, the creation and development of APEC, Australia's position in the global dynamic, its contributions to nuclear disarmament and the author's passion for a reconciliation between Australia and its Indigenes and the creation of an Australian Republic. This is a broad brief for 300 pages and in parts the strain shows. Except for the US and Indonesia, the assessment on individual states was a bit patchy - with the UK receiving a more comprehensive treatment than New Zealand, some of the ASEAN countries and India. In some areas, such as the section on Vietnam, the link drawn between Keating's anecdotes on his contact with individuals and the theme of the book seems a bit thin.
However, Keating's attention to multilateral relations largely makes up for this and tacitly acknowledges the gradual diminution in importance of the nation state. This acknowledgment is belied in the structure of the book which, at first glance, seems to rely on descriptions of particular unilateral relationships. It could, perhaps, have been structured in a more creative way without losing any of its clarity.
My only other gripe is that Keating's identification of the centrality of economic and social diversity to success in the next century, is not matched by a vision of how this great need can be conveyed to the Australian people. It is one thing to say that Howard and Hanson's unique brand of myopia is wrong. It is another to shape that realisation into a coherent argument that will wash with the broad mass of people, many of whom who quite logically connect change, at the micro level, with pain. This, given his ability to communicate, was the great tragedy of Keating's Prime Ministership and it sits as a hole in this book.
Despite these not insignificant problems, the central thesis of the book stands up. Keating puts a powerful and imaginatively argued case that Australia will only survive if it is diverse and poised for change, and that a generous engagement with our region is the path to this diversity. His point about rapid change is inadvertently made by the map at the front of the book which still shows Dili as a regional city of Indonesia rather than as the national capital of an independent East Timor. The book went to print as a new nation was born on our doorstep. Keating's projection of the changes and opportunities the future could hold, through the prism of his Prime Ministership, is effective precisely because he is the last Prime Minister we have had who is more interested in the future than the past and is likely to be so for some time.
Keating P, Engagement: Australia Faces the Asia Pacific, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2000
Allan Mills the UN civilian police (CivPol) commissioner was one of six people recently given an award for services in East Timor. The other five were members of Interfet including Major General Cosgrove.
However, the 50 odd members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) 1st East Timor Contingent who served under Mills have yet to be given any public recognition or awards.
Our members of CivPol both men and women were unarmed and had to endure confronting and life threatening situations before, during and immediately after the 30 August ballot when the armed militias were allowed to run amok by the Indonesian army (TNI) and the Indonesian Police (BRIMOB). Our AFP Officers did not even had the luxury of having flak jackets or helmets to protect themselves.
There would have been more killings of the East Timorese by the militia, the TNI and BRIMOB had it not been for the brave actions taken by members of the AFP CivPol Officers.
According to the National Vice President of the AFP Association, Allen LeLievre (who served in East Timor) members of the AFP in CivPol performed their duties in undeniably hazardous circumstances and should be given public recognition.
Allen said: 'All members were at the front line going beyond the call of duty 16 plus hours a day for nearly 90 days without one day for rest under extremes stress both physical and mental.'
Allen recalled the incident during the evacuation of Baucau (Tuesday 7 September) when AFP CivPol Officers whist being threatened themselves surrounded the local East Timorese staff to prevent them from being harmed by the armed militias.
'They refused to be evacuated until the locally employed UN staff were evacuated. When a C130 Hercules took off with the rest of their colleagues two officers stayed behind to assist these local staff board the UN (Lloyds) helicopters to Dili with no guarantee of themselves being evacuated.'
ABC journalist Tim Lester recalled an incident in Maliana in late June 1999 when the UN compound was under attack by the militias. According to Tim members of the AFP performed with great distinction under attack--they were very calm and discipline.
Tim pointed out one officer in particular--Craig Mann who played a key role in giving first aid to eight or nine injured East Timorese: 'Officer Mann was a natural leader who took control of the situation and kept the calm.'
Tim Lester who was in East Timor until his evacuation to Darwin on 7 September also agrees that members of the AFP CivPol should be given public recognition and some form of awards for the role they played in East Timor.
More members of Interfet will be given awards for their distinguish service in East Timor. Tick-a-tack parades welcoming them home have also been planned.
The Secretary of the ACT AFP Association, Wayne Sievers (who also served in East Timor until his evacuation on 10 September) welcomes such moves and said: 'Its pleasing the Interfet has been recognised.'
'However, we should not forget the role CivPol played in East Timor before Interfet was there. It was a very difficult and dangerous role when the unarmed CivPol had to face around 20,000 Indonesian troops and thousands of militias with nothing but the force of persuasion.'
The situation in East Timor was in many ways different from those in the civil war which took place in Rwanda, Bonsai or Kosovo where the boundaries of the opposing sides were more clear cut.
In East Timor there was no civil war, but we had a situation where the armed militias, TNI and BRIMOB were harassing, intimating and killing the unarmed East Timorese. The boundaries between the two opposing sides were changing constantly--from week to week, day to day and hour to hour, making the job of CivPol difficult and at times dangerous.
There were many acts of bravery by members of the AFP CivPol Officers who on numerous occasions put their lives on the line for the East Timorese. They acted in a cool, calm and collective manner even when under siege especially in Liquica, Maliana, Baucau, Viqueque and during the five days we were in the Dili UN compound.
Another AFP East Timor veteran, Superintendent Jeff Hazel has just finished compiling CivPol eye-witness accounts concerning actions of bravery, courage, outstanding and distinguish acts by AFP Officers who served in East Timor under CivPol Commissioner Allan Mills. The report has now been submitted to the AFP Commissioner in Canberra.
Let's hope the AFP and the Federal Government act on the report and give CivPol the public recognition and awards they so deservingly are entitled to. Let's make sure any tick-a tack parades welcoming home members of Interfet would include members of the CivPol.
HT Lee was Workers Online's Dili correspondent during the struggle for independence
Buster is our man trackside who's prepared to lift the lid and blow the whistle but definitely not piss in anyone's pocket but his own. Buster is very much an "unlicensed person" so he won't be answering to any Steward's inquiries or Minister's calls when he tips the bucket on scandal, skullduggery or just general incompetence on matters turf. Over to you Buster!
G'day punters. Well it's a long time since the days of being bitten for a monkey by 'Break Even' Bill Mordey in an alcoholic stupor at the Graphic Arts Club, getting on a good thing on the last in Brisbane before going back for the night shift at The Sun. But I thought I'd resurface after a decade long hangover to make a few salient and sober observations about this beautiful thing called the racing game...
In today's fragmented, deconstructed, hypermediated post-modern world where there's no truth and every truth, how is it that the political gatekeepers deem punting a sin? Strewth! I thought the whole idea behind po-mo was so that everyone could do their own thing and not cop a bagging. But somehow the agenda setters have declared the punt evil and earmarked it as something to feel guilty about. I mean what would old comrades from the Sydney Push think? These were the intellectual radicals who loved nothing more than having a punt. Apart from debating the relative merits of clitoral and vaginal orgasms over a few beers down at the local, the Push regarded the punt as one of the greatest expressions of freedom you could experience. I'd feel a lot less under siege and a lot more relaxed and comfortable if the agenda setters got off us humble punter's case and worried more about Rupert and Kerry paying their fair share of tax.
So Autumn's in the air, another Sydney racing carnival beckons and the dear old AJC is probably going to have its Easter parade rained on again for the umpteenth time. Why is it that the AJC's Easter carnival gets rained out nearly every year? Maybe it's a whole lot of bad karma coming home to roost for industrial misbehaviour of years past? So on the basis of a whole bunch of equine superstars dropping out of the carnival and it becoming an $8 million beerfest I'll throw my hat into the ring...
Cruelly referred to by some cynics as "the million dollar welter" after the all too often drop out of big names at acceptance time. A handicap, but more and more becoming one in name only. Although the Donny has a great history of being a lottery race, the generous handicapping of topweights and the squeezing up of the bottom weights is making this event more like a set weights race than a handicap (good one fellas - another win for the big end of town at the battler's expense).
This year it looks like a two horse race as the handicapper has given Sunline the greatest free kick since John Howard handed Kerry Packer a $180 million Digital TV licence for nix by awarding this mare no penalty for winning the Coolmore Classic at Rosehill last Saturday. Here's a mare that has been rated the best on turf in the world, has kicked their brains in by humping 60kg to victory in a Group 1 race last week and now gets invited to do it again with 2.5kg less in a race that quite often loses a few big guns by post time! Forget about the weight carrying record garbage, it's irrelevant - today's 57.5kg in real terms is yesteryear's 53.5kg when the limit weight was lower. Sunline will have them all off the bit and be highballing at the 200m and will be extremely hard to run down. There's only one horse weighted to beat her; Hire, who has been fair dinkum pitchforked into the race with a luxury weight of 51.5kg. Improving three-year-olds have a great record in the Donny and this horse looks the goods.
The Sydney Cup
If the Doncaster is the million-dollar welter, then this event is the Summer Cup on steroids. Every year a pack of one paced no hopers turn up to get flogged for 2 miles and then promptly go missing in action when the real staying races get run in the Spring down south. And every year we hear excuses why the Sydney Cup failed to measure up. Sure, Tie The Knot, Kingston Town and few other great horses have won the race, but who remembers all the dog meat that struggled to beat the ambulance home in a quagmire year after year? It's an embarrassment to Australian racing and if you're going to throw your hard earned on this race you're being a fool to yourself and a burden to others. Go grab a beer and give Shane Dye a bucketing for sitting 55 wide the whole way on some poor animal he thought was Veandercross in an earlier event instead - it's a much more rewarding experience.
I mean why bother? The STC's flagship event is nothing more than a two-year-old demolition derby where the greatest interest is in which lunatic is going to show no mercy from an outside gate and pole axe half the field by the 600m mark (one top jockey virtually made a career out of it). Most of the Slipper field disappears next season never to be heard of again and if the winner is any good it's off to play hide the sausage at stud within 12 months. So apart from the odd standout who wins with a leg in the air, it's an entirely forgettable event.
What's Going Down Around Town...
Which well known Australian racing official got his fingers badly burnt when a high flying stockbroker decided to jump out of a window in Hong Kong recently, taking all his dodgy and unrecoverable investments with him?
Is it true that Sydney SportsTAB has been getting its odds arse-up lately? Some smarties tell me they've been cleaning up on Super 12 Rugby games where SportsTAB post up the odds the wrong way around with the favourites set as the longshot and the longshots set as the favourites. No wonder TAB Ltd has been disappointing the mums and dads with dismal share prices lately.
On another struggling sport, which two Rugby League clubs can't pay their bills, have had their News Ltd cash drip turned off and are already financially dead in the water waiting to fold? I'll give you a hint, one of these clubs gets bailed out at least once a decade and renames its home ground every time it gets a new sponsor. Makes the decision to cut the grand South Sydney Rabbitohs all the more senseless.
Til next month punters.
Heard any hot goss? Then drop the Buster a line at: [email protected] Confidentiality guaranteed.
The New South Wales Government has decided to split the responsibility for the WorkCover portfolio.
Jeff Shaw, the Minister who has had responsibility for WorkCover since 1995, will retain responsibility for Occupational Health and Safety. John Della Bosca, Special Minister for State and Assistant Treasurer, will take on the responsibility for Workers' Compensation or the "poison chalice".
Workers compensation has been plagued with major financial problems with a huge deficit which was spiralling out of control and was inherited by the Carr Government upon their election in 1995.
The unions have worked closely with Jeff Shaw through a peak consultative advisory body, The Workers' Compensation Advisory Council, to bring the scheme back into line.
The unions found Jeff Shaw took a genuine interest in their suggestions and implemented reforms which were beneficial both to injured workers and to the scheme as a whole. He didn't listen to the advice of those who wanted draconian reforms similar to those implemented by the Kennett Government in Victoria.
In December 1999 he announced that there had been a turnaround of almost $1 billion in the scheme.
The unions are confident that the resources which are now in place will continue to deliver further savings.
The unions, particularly those on the peak council, are very disappointed with the fact that Jeff Shaw will no longer handle Workers' Compensation. They hope that the new Minister, Della Bosca, will have the same consultative and reasonable approach and share Jeff Shaw's vision.
This was not the only blow for WorkCover. The General Manager, John Grayson, has moved to a position in the Industrial Relations Commission. Whilst we congratulate John on his new role, he will certainly be missed.
John worked well with the unions and employers and had a very "open door" policy. He was fair and balanced in his judgements and always tried to deliver a win-win situation for unions, employers and government alike.
Unions hope the new Acting General Manager of WorkCover, Warwick McDonald, will take a leaf out of John Grayson's book.
The Government has split WorkCover between two Ministers.
But unions will vigorously oppose any move to dismantle WorkCover and hive off the occupational health and safety function back to the Department of Industrial Relations. This would be a major step backwards and would undermine the new consultative industry reference group structure established by Jeff Shaw.
This is the first time ever that unions and employers have been given a real say in occupational health and safety and workers' compensation policy agenda.
Garry Brack, Chief Executive Officer of the Employers' Federation and an employer representative on the Advisory Council states:
"In our dealings with Jeff Shaw on workers' compensation we have experienced the most positive relationship ever between business and Government.
"This has been an issue where there simply hasn't been any quick fixes and where intense debate required a preparedness to look at long haul solutions. Something we got here and have never had anywhere else. Part of the credit for this of course has to go to Bob Carr."
Garry further stated:
"In John Della Bosca we know we will be dealing with somebody who has the same capacity for leadership and we are hopeful that he will have the same long term view and continue in the same consultative vein."
Internationally, NSW is cited as having forward vision in integrating occupational health and safety and workers' compensation and other countries are contemplating ...
Charles Vandervord, the Law Society's representative on the Advisory Council stated:
"We were fortunate to have a very thoughtful and perceptive Minister who was across the issues involved in the WorkCover Scheme reform. It is hoped the new Minister will continue to consult with all the players and move forward with conscientiousness as the former Minister did."
Herron is the dithering surgeon who fell into the Aboriginal Affairs portfolio, yet lacks the political acumen to have any positive influence on government policy.
Instead he sits back and allows the Prime Minister to play his ugly breed of wedge politics, as he desperately tried to win back the One Nation block vote on a black-bashing platform.
Herron hit the headlines this week when he signed off on an odious argument constructed from within the PM's office that there wasn't a Stolen Generation.
The logic was that there was no Stolen Generation because only one in ten Aborignals were stolen. Under the same logic there was no generation Sent to War to give us the ANZAC tradition.
Why they felt compelled to run this line is unclear: but whether through malevolence or incompetence it has ensured that tensions with indigenous Australia will take center stage as the world's attention focuses on Australia during the 2000 Games.
As Herron and Howard shrug their shoulders and wonder what all the fuss is about, most of us scratch our heads and wonder why it's so hard to say sorry? Why is it necessary to downplay this chapter of our history? Why can't our leaders lead?
The point that the Howard Government continually misses is that we live in a world of symbols that shape our culture and our perception of the outside world. A Government that can't do this is incapable of leading us into the 21st Century.
History will not judge Howard well; Herron will be forgotten altogether and the past injustices to indigenous Australia will be recognized.
It's our shame that it can't happen now; but it will happen.
PS It was good to see our old mate Piers Akerman knocking on the door of the Tool Shed, jumping on the Howard/Herron bandwagon and defending the indefensible; using this shameful exercise of power as an excuse to bash Beazley.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005