In a move to the Left after vacating the Presidency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions from 2000 till 2010, Sharan Burrows went with an ABC film crew and journalist Eric Campbell to QATAR to expose terrible conditions for over 1 million migrant construction workers. Not the worst working conditions in the region but pretty bad nonetheless.
Qatar is the home of al Jazeera and of US airforce and military bases used to strike Iraqi and Syrian people. Qatar is a feudal autocracy that refuses foreign workers permission to enter the capital city of Doha during its national day of celebration, even though it was foreign workers that built the city.
Under Sharan Burrow’s leadership, the ACTU supported the election of the Rudd Labor government in 2007 that sent workers to their deaths in the botched implementation of the Pink Bat Installation scheme. Sharan Burrow blamed dodgy contractors but the ALP government failed to regulate the scheme and to insist on proper health and safety conditions:
“You’ve got hundreds of operators who suddenly decided they would become pink bat installers overnight, and they’re dodgy.” Ms Burrow said.
It would be interesting to hear ALP member Burrow’s take on the failure of a Labor government to prevent deaths in Australian industry. One worker dies in the Australian workplaces every week … in the recent build of Brisbane tunnels OH&S was nearly non-existent. If it weren’t for the unions nothing would be done.
Successive Australian governments have exploited foreign workers using the 457 visa and the current federal government has effectively created two classes of citizenship with its immigration laws.
Former ALP government minister Simon Crean another ACTU president supported the war in Iraq and the US alliance despite the devastation and lives lost from that conflict.