BY MELANIE SJOBERG
SYDNEY Sixty unionists attended a meeting organised by the NSW Labor Council on February 26 to discuss the impending war on Iraq and the response of the unions.
ALP foreign affairs spokesperson Kevin Rudd described the structure of the United Nations. He pointed out that UN agencies had estimated that a war on Iraq would leave up to 1.5 million people displaced.
Although Rudd avoided saying so, he left no doubt that he was in favour of military action sanctioned by the UN. It was a problem if the Anglo-Saxon troika of the US, Britain and Australia" launched the war on Iraq without UN sanction, he said.
Rudd pointed out that the pre-1998 UN weapons inspection process had destroyed 90% of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capability and that, he stated, meant that containment (the UN trade embargo against Iraq) had been successful.
Audrey McDonald, a former union organiser and Communist Party of Australia member, gave a brief description of grassroots activism on work sites during the anti-war campaigns of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. A number of other delegates spoke about their experiences of building support for the anti-war movement at their workplaces.
No discussion was allowed from the floor of the meeting.
Meeting organisers announced that the NSW Labor Council is calling for unionists to wear a badge to work on March 14, rally at 5pm on the day bombing starts and to support the Palm Sunday peace rally.
There was no mention of decisions by labour councils and unions in other states to take strike action the day after the US war on Iraq begins. Following the announcement of badge day the organisers closed the meeting.
From Green Left Weekly, March 5, 2003.
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