Anti-WTO coalition decides against united march

Issue 

BY IGGY KIM

SYDNEY — On November
1, the organising coalition for the November 14 rally against the World
Trade Organisation (WTO) decided against a march. Instead, the coalition
will leave it up to different contingents to hold their own marches prior
to converging at Hyde Park's Archibald Fountain at noon.

The main opposition to a united march came from the NSW Australian Manufacturing
Workers Union (AMWU). The union's representatives cited the risk of violence,
which they said could add fuel to the federal government's anti-union offensive,
and, according to one official, conservatism among the union's membership.

The NSW Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union was also reluctant
to support a march. However, some 300 CFMEU delegates will march to the
rally from Trades Hall.

At the November 1 coalition meeting, support for a united march was
expressed by representatives of the Greens, the National Union of Students
environment office, the No War on Iraq coalition, Aid/Watch, the Australian
Democrats and Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific. However,
as the AMWU's opposition to a united march was intransigent, a number of
representatives decided to support pre-rally marches instead.

The debate coincided with a scare campaign by the NSW Labor government.
Police minister Mick Costa has attempted to have anti-WTO web sites closed
down, alleging that they have threatened violence during the November protests.
However, the Australian Broadcasting Authority found on October 30 that
the sites had not breached regulations.

The front page of the November 1 Sydney Daily Telegraph launched
a sensationalist attack against a seminar on civil disobedience scheduled
for November 8, which is to be held in a meeting room at NSW Parliament
House. The seminar is being hosted by Greens NSW MP Lee Rhiannon and organised
by the Research Initiative on International Activism.

At the same time, the federal government's home invasions of Muslim
families have been resolutely defended by NSW Premier Bob Carr.

Another pre-rally
march will be a youth-led mobilisation against war and the WTO, which will
assemble at the Sydney Town Hall Square at 11am. High school students are
organising to walk out of class for the action. They have urged everybody
who is opposed to the threat of war against Iraq and are opposed to the
WTO to join them.

Bronwyn Powell, an organiser of the youth-led mobilisation, told Green
Left Weekly
that “in the face of attacks on civil liberties, it is
unfortunate that some union officials have felt they need to submit. It
could set a negative precedent for upholding the hard-won right to demonstrate
in the street.”

“The irony is”, Powell continued, “Carr and Costa are whipping up this
anti-democratic atmosphere because they are worried about the growing movement
that is challenging the Labor and Coalition governments' agenda of war
and austerity.

“That's why we should be building an even stronger, more defiant movement.
We should be exposing the utter sham of Costa and Carr's fear-mongering
campaign by ensuring a huge, colourful and peaceful united march on November
14.”

To get involved in the 11am “No War, No WTO” mobilisation, contact Bronwyn
Powell on 0415 396 696. For details of the noon rally, visit <http://www.aftinet.org.au>.
For information about the November 8 seminar, phone James Goodman on (02)
9514 2714 or James Arvanitakis on 0438 454 127.

From Green Left Weekly, November 6, 2002.

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