Unions oppose military retaliation

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BY SUE BOLTON

Following in the tradition of unions which took a strong stand against the Vietnam War, some unions have adopted motions opposing US military retaliation for the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11.

The strongest motion was adopted by the state administrative committee of the Victorian branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

Noting that "the workers who died in the attack ... are not responsible for successive US governments' policy of sponsoring terrorist acts against civilians in other countries", the union declared its opposition to any attempt to use the tragedy "to engage in military actions which will only lead to more carnage".

The Victorian AMWU rejected "the idea that whole nations should be punished for the actions of a few ... For this reason we oppose any Australian military involvement in US plans for military retaliation and call on the Australian government to immediately withdraw all military assistance."

The motion also condemned attempts to use the terror attack to fuel racism against Arabs, Muslims and refugees, and declared opposition to attempts by governments to use the tragedy as an excuse to restrict democratic rights and civil liberties.

The National Tertiary Education Union's national council, meeting in Melbourne on September 23-25, passed a motion which opposed a "blank cheque" of support being given by the Australian government to the US government's "war on

terrorism".

While the NTEU's motion declared opposition to the anti-terrorist sentiment of the public being used to wage a global war, it also stated support for international cooperation to combat terrorism.

The traditionally right-wing NSW Labor Council also adopted a motion cautioning against all-out war. On October 3, it unanimously adopted a motion which called for a measured response and justice to be implemented within the rule of law, but it also opposed military retaliation.

The NSW Labor Council's motion condemned "all acts of terrorism, whether state-sanctioned or the actions of individuals or small groups as indefensible" and condemned racially motivated attacks on Arabic and Islamic communities in Australia.

In South Australia, the United Trades and Labor Council has also passed a motion opposing the US "war against terrorism" and, going further than other unions, has said it will support anti- war protests.

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