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July 2004   

Interview: Power and the Passion
ALP's star recruit Peter Garrett shares his views on unions, forests and being the Member for Wedding Cake Island

Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Tony Butterfield became a State of Origin gladiator at the unlikely age of 33. Even that, Jim Marr reports, couldn�t prepare him for the knock-down, drag-em-out world of modern IR.

Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Proposals to flog off NSW�s forests have raised eyebrows and temperatures amongst some of the key players reports Phil Doyle.

Housing: Home Truths
CFMEU national secretary John Sutton argues for a radical solution to the housing affordability crisis.

International: Boycott Busters
International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.

Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
The absurdities of neoclassical economic assumptions has never stood in the way of their being trotted out to justify profiteering and attacks on the rights of citizens. The AUSFTA is the latest rort we are supposed to swallow, writes Neale Towart.

History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Interest in JC Watson's short time as Labor's first Prime Minister should not detract from his more substantial role as Party leader, writes Mark Hearn

Review: Chewing the Fat
As debate rages in Australia about Fast Food advertising, Julianne Taverner takes a look at a side of the industry that Ronald McDonald won�t tell you about in Supersize Me.

Poetry: Dear John
Workers Online reader Rob Mullen shares some personal correspondence with our glorious leader.


The Westie Wing
As the NSW Labor Government sells its first budget deficit in nine years, the real concern for the union movement is the devil in the detail, especially when it comes to procurement agreements, writes Ian West.

The Soapbox
Rubber Bullets
Labor's IR spokesman Craig Emerson launches a few characteristic salvos across the Parliamentary chamber

The Locker Room
Tears After Bedtime
Phil Doyle says that it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye

Postcard from Vietnam
APHEDA's Hoang Thi Le Hang reports from the north of Vietnam on a project being fund by Australian unionists.,


A Place To Call Home
These days the Great Australian Dream is closer to a fantasy, where the chances of owning to your own home depend on either inheriting property or winning lottery.


 NRMA Reverses Over Turnbull

 Privatisation Kills

 Crikey: Irwin Feeds Staff AWAs

 Nurses Telegraph Fight Back

 "Sexiest Man" Plays it Safe

 Eureka: Bug Swats Hadgkiss

 Macdonald Ponders Asbestos Blue

 Latham Gets Late Mail

 Murdoch Faces Discrimination Rap

 Boss Goes Postal

 Oberon Survives Bomb Threat

 Howard Out On CD

 Telstra Hangs Up On Staff

 Activists What�s On!

 Letter From America
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Boycott Busters

International unions have issued a new list of corporations breaching ILO sanctions to do business in Burma.


As part of a long-standing campaign for the full respect of human rights and workers' rights in Burma, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today released a new version of its Burma company database.

An additional 36 companies appear on the ICFTU's list of multinationals operating in Burma, taking the database total to well over 400 international companies.

At the same time, the International Labour Organisation has decided to step up the pressure on Burma, and may focus on the issue of foreign investment when its Governing Body meets again in November 2004.

One of the new additions to the list is SWIFT.

A financial company based in Belgium and operating worldwide, SWIFT hosts a network which everyday enables high street banks and other financial institutions to make transactions with one another.

However, at the same time, SWIFT is now playing an important role in propping up the Burmese dictatorship, having recently accepted four Burmese government-owned banks into its network.

The international trade union movement deplores this since it allows the country's dictators to make international financial transactions and profit from them.

Disturbingly, the Burmese military dictatorship is able to use SWIFT's networks to evade the economic sanctions imposed on it by the international community, particularly sanctions imposed last year by the USA, which excludes, amongst other things, financial transactions to and from Burma in US dollars.

Daewoo International Corporation is another company coming under the spotlight for fraternising with the Burmese regime.

Appearing in the ICFTU's database, the multinational, which has roots in South Korea, plans to operate and explore several new gas fields in Burma.

Together with Korea Gas, Daewoo International is in the early stages of setting up a number of major operations in the South- East Asian country.

Initial estimates suggest that the size of the Daewoo International gas operations will dwarf the Yadana gas fields where the French company Total and US-based Unocal operate.

The commercial exploitation of gas fields in Burma has traditionally been accompanied by appalling human rights violations. Daewoo International operations may unleash a new wave of forced labour.

The ICFTU list also names Austrian Airlines for its links to Burma, which has resulted in a stream of negative publicity for the Austrian company.

Despite this, the airline is unwilling to openly express any intention to permanently halt flights to Burma. Austrian Airlines is the only major foreign carrier from outside the region that still operates regular scheduled flights to the country.

Continuing forced labour was the topic of a special session of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Annual Conference, which concluded last week in Geneva.

The Conference's Committee on the Application of Standards, which monitors member states' compliance with ratified ILO Conventions, was deeply disturbed by the death sentences given to three activists from the Federation of Trade Unions- Burma (FTUB).

Sentenced to death last November, the three had been accused of high treason for reporting incidents of forced labour to the ILO.

The ILO has given the military junta until November 2004 to demonstrate real progress on the issue of forced labour. This should include the release of the FTUB prisoners. The ILO warns that the alternative would be a reactivation of measures contained in a special resolution adopted by the ILO Conference in June 2000, under article 33 of the ILO Constitution.

The decision on Burma adopted by the ILO last week is a landmark, since it specifically relates to foreign direct investment.

All multinational companies on the ICFTU list operate in Burma, have business relations with the country, have been in direct contact with the officials of the regime and/or promote tourism in the country. The ICFTU asserts that conducting any formal business relationship in Burma benefits the Burmese military dictatorship, directly or indirectly.

Therefore, these multinational companies are seen as supporting the dictators who rule the country.

Burma continues to have one of the worst human and trade union rights records in the world. In spite of some minor positive steps which have been made in the last few years, partly a result of international pressure, there have been very few changes in the way the Burmese dictators treat their citizens. Improvements have mostly been merely cosmetic and in many cases, were followed by new waves of brutal repression including violence against religious and ethnic minorities, forced relocation, physical assault, child labour, rape and murder.

The reality is that cases of these disturbing criminal offences happen on a daily basis. The regime also has a high number of political prisoners in custody. Forced labour, one of the serious and widespread problems in Burma, is still the labour practice of choice routinely used by the Burmese military.

The database, including specific information for each company, as well as background information on this initiative, can be found on the web at:


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