Peter Boyle

As Malaysian opposition parties and social activists, emboldened by advances in the March general elections, prepared to hold a giant protest against recent oil price hike (petrol up 41%, diesel up 67%) in Kuala Lumpur on July 6, a series of disturbing events unfolded.

We live in precarious times. Consider these two announcements over the last week:

1. The Bank for International Settlements (the international organisation of the world's central banks) warned that a severe global economic downturn seems

Brisbane’s very successful Green Left Weekly Winter Fiesta on June 14 helped take our 2008 Fighting Fund to $101,936. Since the last issue $7921 has been collected in the form of donations and proceeds from events like the Brisbane Winter Fiesta. Proceeds from fundraising events in Newcastle and Melbourne also made a significant contribution.

I declare a personal interest in this story. In 1976, I worked for a year in a James Hardie factory in Western Australia. We were producing asbestos cement sheets; at that time still a popular building material.

Twenty-first century capitalism has sentenced millions of workers to near slavery in the form of various migrant labour schemes that underpin the mega profits of many giant corporations. From Singapore to Dubai to the US, such schemes spell super-exploitation. So would a “guest
worker” scheme in Australia be much less exploitative?

On June 5, I joined a suburban World Environment Day campaigning stall organised by Resistance, a socialist youth group in Australia.

“They must think we are all idiots”, said an exasperated Friend of Green Left last week in response to the parliamentary debate about rising petrol prices.

A pile of bags and clothing on an old shopfront verandah on Cuff Road in Singapore’s Little India is “home” to a group of about 50 migrant workers who have been spat out by an economy that relies heavily on so-called “guest workers”.

“Macquarie Bank bosses’ pay cut after profit cut warning”, was the headline of an article by Michael Sainsbury and Katherine Jimenez, in the May 21 Australian.

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