Jobs With Justice: May Day Rally Fights for Aboriginal Workers’ Rights

Media Release
April 30, 2010

Jobs With Justice: May Day Rally Fights for Aboriginal Workers’ Rights

The Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) , local trade unionists and representatives from a number of Aboriginal communities will stage a demonstration in Alice Springs this Saturday May 1st, international day for workers rights.

The protest will highlight the huge loss of employment in communities that has come with the NT Intervention, severe cuts to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) and the dissolution of Aboriginal Community Councils in favour of mega-Shires.

The protest will demand serious government investment to provide properly waged employment and services in all Aboriginal communities and an immediate end to new CDEP arrangements which are forcing Aboriginal people to work for their quarantined Centrelink payments.

Barbara Shaw from IRAG said, “with the Intervention and the takeover of our Indigenous Community Councils into nine super-shires, we were told that there were going to be real employment opportunities for people in the communities – proper wages for proper work. So where are these jobs now?”

“The Intervention is just a re-creation of past policies. For much of the 20th century our people worked for stations and mission managers and only got paid in rations. And here we are today being forced to work for the BasicsCard.”

“As Aboriginal people we need to fight with the unions for our rights to equal pay for equal work. Both Article 17.3 in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007) and 23.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) prohibit pay discrimination”, concluded Ms Shaw.

Paddy Gibson from IRAG said, “The Intervention and the Shires have seen a jobs massacre in Aboriginal communities. This is part of a broader attempt to restrict resources and opportunities in communities deemed ‘unviable’ by the government and force people to move. At Ampilatwatja for example, young people are being told there is no waged work available with the Shire – they can either sign up to work for the BasicsCard or leave. Yet we have seen five outside contractors working there over the last month doing basic municipal work like lawn mowing.”

“Along with mass unemployment Jenny Macklin’s Intervention has created the most hyperexploited section of workers in Australia – BasicsCard workers. Planning to attend this protest are construction workers from Kalkaringi , currently being forced to build an Arts and Craft centre to get their ration card. This is at the site of the historic Wave Hill walk off where Aboriginal people went on strike with unions for equal pay – we are reviving this spirit this May Day”, added Mr Gibson.

Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union (LHMU) Regional Organiser Miguel Ociones concluded, “Fairness and equality has always been the trademark of Unions. We believe that if there are identified jobs that needed to be done by the Shires to provide services to the community on a day to day basis, then it should be paid with real wages. People shouldn’t be forced to work for the Basics Card if there is no fair compensation for a fair work done.”

Barbara Shaw 0401 291 166
Paddy Gibson 0415 800 586
Miguel Ociones 0418 851 308

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