|Issue No 83||09 February 2001|
Workers Take Message to World Bank
By Andrew Casey
A delegation of Australian union leaders had a short, frank meeting with the management of the Asia-Pacific office of the World Bank today, to protest the Bank's funding of anti-worker, anti-union companies which also have bad environmental records.
The delegation demanded that the Bank bring into line one of their rogue clients in Indonesia - the Shangri-La Jakarta hotel - who have refused to negotiate with workers' leaders and used police to violently break up a peaceful sit-in.
Led by ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, the delegation met with the Asia-Pacific regional manager of the World Bank, Klaus Rohland. Mr Rohland accepted background material on the nearly two-month old Jakarta hotel dispute which he promised to send to his head office in New York.
World-wide hotel workers' rallies A colourful union rally in front of the World Bank's office in Sydney's Martin Place is the first of several co-ordinated Shangri-La Jakarta Hotel solidarity rallies planned by hotel unions around the world - all in front of local offices of the World Bank.
Workers from most of the major five-star Sydney hotels were represented at the rally, along with construction workers from nearby sites and a sprinkling of other union supporters.
" Hotel workers - wherever they live - demand respect and are eager to show solidarity with their sisters and brothers at the Jakarta Shangri-La hotel who have been locked out of their workplaces for over a month," Jeff Lawrence, the National Secretary of the LHMU Hotel Union told the Sydney rally.
" There workers are being made destitute by a company prepared to go to the brink to break the union.
" These are workers earning less than $US 30 a month, who serve international guests who pay a minimum of $US 90 a night for the privilege of staying at the Shangri-La Jakarta hotel. "
New Shangri-La union bans
The Sydney rally greeted with a loud round of applause the news that Victorian construction workers have placed a ban on the building of a new Shangri-La hotel in Melbourne - as a statement of solidarity with the Jakarta Shangri-La hotel workers.
The five-star Asia-Pacific Shangri-La hotel and resort chain is said to be the favourite to win a tender to develop the prestigious 30 hectare Melbourne Docklands site which would include a Shangri-La hotel, the first in Australia.
The Shangri-La hotel and resort chain is owned by Mr Robert Kuok who regularly features in Forbes magazines list of top billionaires.
The construction unions will meet with the Docklands Authority on Monday to discuss the tender process - the results of which are expected to be known within the next fortnight.
Both the construction unions and the ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, have written to the Victorian State Premier, Steve Bracks, to make it clear they do not want an anti-union international conglomerate to be given access to this prime city site.
ACTU writes to Premier Bracks
In her letter to Premier Bracks asking him to resist pressure to hand the Docklands tender to Mr Robert Kuok, the boss of the Shangri-La group, the ACTU President explained the Shangri-La's Jakarta hotel , " is engaged in a blatant, brutal attack on the workers of that hotel."
" The ACTU is a strong supporter of investment which will enable more Australians to be employed. But we would hope that these jobs will be meaningful jobs both in terms of developing skills and providing all workers with a just and living wage.
" It would be our expectation that global companies seeking to invest in Australia will be companies that not only uphold the law but are contributing more widely to the well-being of Australian workers and their families. At the moment Mr Kuok's company in Jakarta is doing neither, " Ms Burrow told the State Premier in her letter.
The ACTU President, Sharan Burrow, said Australians did not want companies in this country who aren't prepared to treat people with respect, companies who are not prepared to pay people what they're entitled to under the law - like a fair minimum wage.
"We don't want a hotel chain in this country who are prepared to use police to jail workers - without charges - as a way to resolve an industrial dispute. "
World Bank funds
The Shangri-La Jakarta hotel was funded with an US$86 million joint World Bank-private sector loan to an Indonesian consortium in 1992.
A member of this same consortium also received World Bank loans in 1996 to expand oil-palm plantations, which helped to contributed to deforestation in the environmentally degraded province of Kalimantan.
The Jakarta Shangri-La hotel locked out its workers on 22nd of December 2000.
The workers had begun protesting against the victimisation and suspension of their elected union president, Halilintar Nurdin.
The suspension of the union president followed two months of stalled negotiations with hotel management (which included reversals on previous agreements) over a new agreement.
On Boxing Day, 2000, the hotel management invited the Jakarta police into the hotel.
The police violently dragged out over two hundred hotel workers involved in a sit-in. 30 key union activists were held for 24 hours - without charge - in a Jakarta police cell.
Shangri-La management has since refused to meet the unions' leaders to negotiate a collective agreement and an end to the dispute.
The global federation of hotel unions - the IUF - has also written to the Australian-born President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, demanding he 'forcefully inform' the management of the Shangri-La Jakarta Hotel to respect workers' rights and to negotiate in good faith with the local hotel union.
If you want more information about this long-running dispute visit the following websites:
Interview: Dispatch from Davos
ACTU President Shahran Burrow reports back on the trade union movement’s presence at last week’s meeting of the heavyweights of global capital.
Unions: After the Gold Rush
Recent mass sackings at high-profile e-businesses are beginning to expose the flimsiness of the ‘jobs for all’ predictions made on behalf of the sector.
Economics: The Other Davos
While the world’s business leaders met in Davos, a very different gathering was taking place in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Pat Ranald was there.
Politics: While We Were Snoozing
As we lay in our banana chair through summer the political world kept turning with a new man in the White House. Here’s what we missed while we were off the air.
History: Federation Day, 1901
One hundred years after Australia became a nation, Ralph Sawyer relives the original Federation Day through the eyes of Billy Hughes.
International: Burma: The Struggle Continues
As the internatinal community moves to bring Burma to account, APHEDA - Union Aid Abroad is working on the ground.
Review: Inside the Journopolis
In his new book, Rob Johnson brings the infamous Cash for Comment Affair to life.
Satire: Families Demand Longer Work Hours
A new report confirms the long held suspicion that employees who reduce their workload to spend more time with their spouse and children just end up annoying their families even more.
View entire latest issue
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/83/news2_bank.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005