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  Issue No 67 Official Organ of LaborNet 18 August 2000  




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Fiji To Dominate SPOCTU Summit

By Andrew Casey

When the South Pacific and Oceanic Council of Trade Unions (SPOCTU) meets in NZ from Monday August 28 the crisis in Fiji and its effects on the island workforce will be high on the agenda.

The South Pacific unions will probably discuss a proposal to send a combined union delegation to Fiji in September to have an on-the-ground inspection of conditions and discussions about future union sanctions in support of the Fiji TUC and its membership.

This meeting of SPOCTU, attended by about 40 participants, was originally scheduled to be held in Fiji, but this was cancelled to protest the coup against the democratically elected Labour-led government of Fiji.

New Zealand, with its newly elected Labor government and a raft of new pro-worker employment laws just passed this week, is a much more positive environment for unions from this region to meet together.

NZ Prime Minister, Helen Clark, is scheduled to speak at SPOCTU on the same day that the Fiji crisis is to be discussed by delegates.

Democratic developments throughout the South Pacific will be a key item for discussion at the conference.

There will also be a debate on the effects of Globalisation and the WTO on the economies and democracies of the island nations.

Many of these island nations play 'host' to a growing textile and garment industry funded by Chinese, Korean and Australian interests.

There are some reports that these new factories are also being used as fronts for an international trade in sex slaves - with the island factories being used as staging points for the movement of young Asian women into North America.

The history and struggles of workers in the South Pacific sometimes seems as being the stuff of a good Pacific Island pulp adventure story - heroic struggles, romantic stories, as well as outrageous and funny episodes.

The pioneers of the union movement in the South Pacific can provide hair raising stories about how the Cold War impacted on these small islands with mention of the CIA, the KGB and even Mossad.

The CIA at one time was said to have a full time operative in Fiji funding the development of unions. The WFTU - the old pro-Soviet union international - was also very active providing funding and support to a wide variety of nascent island unions.

At the end of the Cold War it was the Japanese, the Koreans and the Malaysians who were trying to influence the local union movements - largely with an eye on how best to make a profit for their business interests from their home countries.

In reaction the union movements from about 15 island nations came together in 1990 to swap experiences about the spies and the influence peddlers, and to provide solidarity and support under the umbrella of SPOCTU.

Apart from Australia and NZ, Pacific Island countries with active union movements who will be represented at the SPOCTU conference include: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Tahiti, Kiribati, New Caledonia, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, the Wallis and Futuna Islands.


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*   Issue 67 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Slyly Selling the Silver
In their recently published book Privatisation, Sell-off? or Sell out? (ABC Books), Bob and Betty Walker took a long hard look at the major government asset sales of the last decade. Here they tell Workers Online what they've learnt.
*  Politics: Dysfunctional Society
Noel Pearson looks at the plight of Aboriginal people through a prism of class and comes up with a challenging perspective on Aboriginal welfare, law and order and the state of our society.
*  History: Money Power
Should the People or the Banks Rule? Reserve Bank Governor McFarlane thinks he knows the answer. Eddie Ward was pretty strongly of the opposite view when the ALP introduced the Commonwealth Banking Legislation in 1945.
*  International: Soccer Pro Tackles Nike
Olympic sponsor Nike is under pressure over its human rights record in the run up to the Sydney Games.
*  Economics: Globalony
Frank Stillwell looks at the contradictory nature of the globalising economy and fears it is turning into a race to the bottom.
*  Satire: IVF Debate: Federal Government Tells Lesbians: "Get Fucked"
MELBOURNE, Monday: The Federal Court decision to allow single women and lesbians to use infertility treatment in Victoria has been attacked by the Federal Government, the Catholic Church and by pro-family community groups.
*  Review: Confessions Of A Union Buster
It's not a new tome but the threat for Australian Unions remains the same if not greater as when this book appeared five years ago.

»  'Shoot to Kill' Powers Under Union Fire
»  SDA Launches Appeal for Struggling Multinational
»  Hated Anti-Worker Law Junked
»  Bellicose Joy: Baseball Bats and Tinsel
»  Selleys Fight Kicks On
»  Fiji To Dominate SPOCTU Summit
»  Trade Unionists Stand In ARM Elections
»  Sydney Hosts Child Care Conference
»  Roboboss Corrigan Straddles Lemon
»  Staff Vote With Feet At Commonwealth
»  Paying Dues Made Easier
»  Telstra Risks Roasting Workers
»  East Timor's Year One Celebration
»  Senate Applauds Australian Seafarers

»  Away For The Games
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Magistrates Need a Union
»  Tom's Mantra

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