In the context of the anti-Muslim racism spiked by the recent attacks in Paris, the Electrical Trades Union Queensland and Northern Territory (ETU Qld and NT) has produced a video showing that racism is anti-worker and has no place in the Australian community.
ETU (Qld and NT) Secretary Peter Simpson told Green Left Weekly: “We at the ETU have been watching the impact racism has had on workers for quite a while now.
“This started when a member fronted a meeting wearing a t-shirt that was not acceptable. It was pointed out that this was not on and we have monitored these racist groups ever since.
“At our State Council meeting in the wake of the Paris attacks it was decided to produce the video.
“It showed the extent that racism impacts on workers when some of our Muslim members felt that they couldn't participate in the video as they were fearful of attacks.”
The video is presented by Peter Simpson and fronted by well-known actor Tony Barry, who was the public face of the Not4Sale campaign against the sale of public assets.
Simpson said: “We have also been in the forefront of the campaign against free trade agreements, which endanger Australian jobs and hard-fought-for working conditions. … This is also an aspect of our anti-racism.
“I think more unions should play an active role in the anti-racism campaign,” he said. “I have taken it up with the Queensland Council of Unions and hope that other unions will also promote or produce similar videos for members and wonder community.
“Bob Carnegie of the Maritime Union of Australia is on board, and I hope more unions will follow.”
The ETU (Qld and NT) has a history of taking up broader political issues to educate their members. One example is in relation to the uranium and nuclear power issue, where they funded a movie and supported a full-time campaign against the former Campbell Newman LNP government. At the time the Newman government was considering reintroducing uranium mining in Queensland.
The ETU, whose members are employed in power generation and distribution has also been proactive in educating members for a just transition to renewable energy. It also promoted and participated in the People's Climate March on Brisbane on November 28, along with other unions.
The Electrical Trades Union Victoria released this anti-racism video on December 11 to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Cronulla racist riots.