Unfree Commonwealth Meets In Perth

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MORE than a quarter of countries represented at the ongoing Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth this week have failed to allow basic industrial rights for workers, Australian TUC President Ged Kearney said yesterday.

Workers’ rights are being ignored across the Commonwealth, with the worst abuses currently occurring in Fiji and Swaziland

The CTUG (Commonwealth Trade Union Group), representing over 30 million workers in 50 countries, is demanding that CHOGM suspend Swaziland for wholesale violations of democratic rights and asks the United Nations to stop using Fijian soldiers as peacekeepers around the world, as well as condemning the already suspended Fijian military dictatorship’s Essential Industries Decree.

‘Workers’ rights are human rights. Without them, people cannot defend their economic and political freedoms.

‘They are as central to democratic societies as they are to free trade unionism,’ Kearney said.

He added: ‘This survey shows many countries are falling short, with 14 countries having failed to ratify all eight core ILO conventions.

‘In the Pacific region, Fiji’s unelected dictatorship is imposing draconian restrictions on workers’ rights and trying to remove unions from workplaces.

‘India has not ratified the child labour conventions or the conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining’ Kearney said.

‘Shockingly, Australia, New Zealand and Canada have not ratified one of the two conventions on child labour.’

‘In Malaysia, the government is seeking to take away workers’ rights to unionise by classing more workers as self-employed or contractors.

‘In other countries, such as Malawi and Zimbabwe, union officials are subject to persecution and violence by government.’

The Sri Lankan leader Rajapaksa is attending the conference. he has led the genocidal repressions against the Tamil people, as well as keeping the wages of Sri Lankan clothing, tea and public sector workers down to one pound sterling a day.