News briefs

Issue 

AMWU members defend their union

GEELONG — On June 28, a meeting of 150 Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) members from Alcoa's Port Henry aluminium smelter discussed the state and federal governments' attacks on the leadership of their union, in particular charges that have been laid against AMWU state secretary Craig Johnston and three other union officials.

Rank and file AMWU members agreed that the charges were politically motivated and were designed to remove the Victorian union's militant leadership. Johnston's real "crime" is fighting for, and winning, better wages and conditions for his union's members.

A 90% majority carried a model motion formulated by the Skilled Six committee.

Bike protest at food irradiation plant

BRISBANE — About 100 bicycle riders gathered early in the morning of June 29 in King George Square for a protest ride to the proposed food irradiation plant at Narangba, about 60 kilometres away. A protest camp has been established at the site.

The Steritech company has just begun construction of the plant, which will irradiate tropical fruits and fresh herbs to extend their shelf lives and make even more profits for the food conglomerates. Products treated in this way will not be labelled.

Organisers are requesting that as many people as possible spend a night or two at the Narangba protest camp.

Beattie under fire over Indigenous wage offer

BRISBANE — The state Labor government was accused on July 2 of "bullying" Indigenous people into accepting an "insulting" compensation package.

A coalition of Indigenous organisations launched a petition, to be presented to the government in August, rejecting the $55.4 million offer for "stolen wages" and calling for the matter to be settled out of court.

In May, the government offered 16,400 Indigenous people up to $4000 each as reparation for having their wages and savings withheld from them. Between 1897 and 1972, the state governments controlled the labour, wages and savings of most Indigenous Queenslanders on missions and reserves, and many allege they never received the money to which they were entitled.

From Green Left Weekly, July 10, 2002.
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