Unions Lead Struggle
Against Live Exports
The Victorian Branch of the AMIEU led the struggle against the live sheep trade in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We predicted that the live sheep trade would bring about the loss of smallstock killing centres and the loss of many jobs.
In the mid 1970s there were two smallstock chains in Portland, year round, killing 6000 a day in the season. In May 1996 AMH announced that the Portland works would be permanently closed. As well as the Portland closure, the large export smallstock killing centres of Ballarat, Geelong, Donald and the western suburbs of Melbourne are all gone.
Now live cattle exports provide a major threat to the beef processing industry.
Coalition on Live Export Campaign
It may surprise you that Animal Liberation condemn the fact that live exports mean lost jobs in the meat industry in Australia. Click on here to see what they say.
|Temporary Migrant Workers|
|Workers in the Philppines support Australian workers|
KMU Supports Australian Workers
A protester shouts slogans as his colleagues display placards during a rally at the Australian Embassy at the financial district of Makati city east of Manila on Wednesday June 28, 2006 to show their solidarity for the 'National Day of Protest ' in Australia against the implementation of the Work Choices Law. The protesters alleged the new law is a direct violation of the International Labor Organization's convention which are 'meant to uphold the right to organize and collectively bargain.' (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Support aboriginal workers fight
Stolen wages a major barrier to reconciliation
August 30, 2007
Indigenous people need a proper return on their labour for this nation.
To MOST Australians, the word "slavery" conjures up images of Africans in
chains being taken across the Atlantic to work the cotton fields of
America's Deep South. We struggle to comprehend that slavery is also part of
our own nation's history.
Governments around Australia controlled wages, savings and benefits
belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for most of the
20th century. Payments withheld included child endowment, pensions and even
soldiers' pay. Much of the money held in trust was never paid to its owners.
Trust account funds were transferred to public revenue, or disappeared
through fraud or negligence along with many of the records.
Historians estimate that tens of thousands of indigenous people had their
labour controlled by state and territory governments during this time.
Among those people was the great Aboriginal leader Lowitja O'Donoghue, who
as a young woman had her wages placed in trust while she worked as a
domestic in South Australia. Years later, when O'Donoghue began her nursing
career, she sought to have this money paid to her so she could buy uniforms.
However, the authorities turned down the request and she never received her
In Queensland, Jubilee Jackson worked as a stockman near Mount Garnet for 60
years from the age of 10. His pay was a small amount of pocket money at
rodeo time. The rest was held in a trust account. When he died in 1967,
there was only $99 in his government-controlled account. The local police
sergeant was later charged with multiple counts of fraud relating to several
In New South Wales, my friend Rob Welsh's father, Ray, was one of 400
Aboriginal boys between five and 15 who were taken from their families and
sent to the Kinchela Boys Home, near Kempsey, between 1924 and 1971. The
boys received poor education, an inadequate diet and many suffered beatings
and abuse. When they turned 15, the Kinchela Boys were sent to work as rural
labourers. The Aboriginal Welfare Board kept their wages, which were
supposed to remain in trust for them until they reached adulthood. Most
never received any of their trust money.
Across northern Australia from the Kimberley to Cape York, the unpaid labour
of indigenous workers was used to establish lucrative industries such as
beef cattle and pearling. In Queensland alone, it has been estimated that as
much as $500 million in today's value was lost or stolen from indigenous
Victoria was not immune to this practice either. Up to the mid-1960s,
workers at the Lake Tyers reserve in Gippsland received only a small cash
wage supplemented by rations. It is also likely that part or all of the
wages of people under the Aboriginal Welfare Board were paid into trust, as
were Commonwealth benefits like child endowment and pensions. More research
is needed to determine what became of this money.
Many of these workers across Australia faced a double injustice because they
were also members of the Stolen Generations. They were removed from their
families, culture and land and then had their wages and entitlements removed
The twin practices of child removal and stolen wages took many indigenous
people into a form of cultural and economic exile, denied a place in
indigenous society and then prevented from gaining the economic stake so
essential to a decent life in the mainstream.
To date only the NSW government has responded to this aspect of our nation's
past with any decency, establishing an Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment
Scheme to fully reimburse claimants for money identified as still owing in
today's value. In contrast, the Queensland government offered only a maximum
$4000 per person as a "gesture of reconciliation" to compensate for decades
of stolen and mismanaged wages and entitlements.
In other states, governments have yet to meet their responsibility to ensure
elderly and vulnerable indigenous people finally receive the payments denied
to them for so many years.
The unresolved issue of stolen wages remains one of the nation's greatest barriers to reconciliation and justice for indigenous people.
Gary Highland is National Director of Australians for Native Title and
Reconciliation (ANTaR). This is an excerpt from his introduction to Hard
Labour, Stolen Wages: A National Report on Stolen Wages, available at
|Colombian Indigenous People Massacred|
In April 2004 the Wayuu were massacred. The survivers are seeking solidarity and support from workers around the world. In May 2005 one of the Wayuu came and talked to the Victorian Branch Committee of Management.
Colombia - Indigenous people massacred
Click here to find out more
A Tradition Recognised by Meatworkers
It is not just history. We need to recognise that the Howard Government wants to drive down our wages and destroy our conditions. We want to indicate that we won't give up the conditions that the Union has fought for and won over the last 115 years.
UNITY IS STRENGTH
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE
Coca Cola Campaign
Coca Cola has made systematic use of the Colombian state's security organisations and the armed forces to threaten and persecute the Union. In 1984 there was the jailing and torture of four union leaders. Since then there has been:
Raids on Union Offices,
Leaders have been followed and harassed
Intervention in the union's means of communication
The monitoring of its computer equipment
Firing at union headquarters, and
The detention of several of its leaders for long periods of time
It is also a norm for the company to systematically violate collective work agreements and to impede negotiations with the union.
The Union that organises in the Meat Industry in Colombia also organises throughout the Food Industry. It is our comrades in Colombia who are under attack from Coca Cola and other multinationals. We should support the Food Union.
Assassinations and Disappearances
In the first 3 months of 2005, in the Phillipines there has been an unabated series of murders, assassinations, abductions and disappearances of unionists, human rights activists and people who support workers' rights. When the Marcos Dictatorship imposed martial law, the paramilitary groups and death squads were rampant. Basic civil liberties and the right to organise is under attack again. Find more here.