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Date: Thu, 5 Feb 98 18:47:26 CST
From: rich%pencil@BROWNVM.brown.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH Subject: Australia's government-backed Union-Busting Plans
/** labr.global: 262.0 **/
** Topic: Fwd: Australia's government-backed **
** Written 1:11 PM Feb 4, 1998 by gn:chrisbailey in cdp:labr.global **
From: "LabourNet" <chrisbailey@gn.apc.org>
Subject: Fwd: Australia's government-backed union-busting plans

Global labour groups mobilise against Australia's government-backed union-busting plans

From the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions,
ICFTU OnLine...
033/980204/LD (4 February 1998)

Brussels, February 4 1998 (ICFTU OnLine): International labour groups are mobilising trade unions world-wide to denounce attempts, backed by the Australian government, to destroy the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). The international union campaign is in response to recent revelations that plans by the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) and a stevedoring company, Patrick's, to set up union-busting operations on the docks in Melbourne, are linked to the clandestine group of former and current SAS soldiers involved in the failed "Dubai industrial mercenary" operation late last year.

According to the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Australia's government is giving its full backing to attempts by big business interests, financed by a secret multi-million dollar fund set up by the National Farmers' Federation and other, as yet unidentified, corporate backers, to destroy the MUA, as part of a wider government campaign to undermine the country's trade union movement.

Union concerns have been fuelled by revelations that at least one serving soldier, currently "on leave" from the Army, is directly involved in the effort to set up the non-union operation in Melbourne..

The ICFTU, which has pledged its full support to the MUA and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, is working closely with the London-based International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) to co-ordinate international trade union solidarity action in support of the Australian workers.

In December last year, a group of 70 Australians including, former and current members of the Australian SAS commando, were flown to Dubai to be trained as dockworkers as part of a secret operation aimed at neutralising the MUA on the Australian waterfront. The union exposure of the operation and warnings by the ITF, which threatened to disrupt maritime traffic to and from Dubai, led the United Arab Emirates to cancel the mercenaries' visas.

ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan said "The facts are now coming out about the involvement of the Australian government and business interests in the failed attempt to train soldiers in Dubai and break the MUA by a combination of force and legal sanctions", adding that "the entire international trade union movement is appalled at the use of soldiers and at the determination of the Australian government to break unions, whatever the cost. We will do all we can to help defeat this aggressive, ideological attack on workers' rights to union representation".

The ITF and ICFTU are alerting their affiliates world-wide to the situation and calling for support for the Australian unions. The Geneva-based International Union of Food and agricultural Workers (IUF), has also pledged support to the ITF and its affiliates. According to IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald, "The National Farmers Federation (NFF) in Australia has a history of ideologically-driven anti-worker positions and activities. Its leadership now seems intent on staking out a position as the country's self-appointed chief union buster. The extent to which the extremist positions taken by the NFF leadership are representative of the views of the Australian farming community is in fact highly questionable."

Along with the huge secret fund, Australian unions are being threatened with a range of legal sanctions. These include provisions of the Australian "Workplace Relations Act", which the ACTU and ICFTU claim violates fundamental labour standards, especially Convention 98 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). A submission on this case has been made to the ILO, which is expected to release its findings in March.

For further information contact: ICFTU Press at++ 32 2 224 02 12, Kees Marges, ITF Dockers' section at++44 171 9409274.ICFTU-Press at: ++32-2 224.02.12 (Brussels). For more information, visit our website at: (http://www.icftu.org).