In June Peter Inverway (PI), a construction worker from Kalkaringi (Wave Hill) in the NT toured Sydney and Melbourne. Under Labor’s “reformed” CDEP (Community Development Employment Program) PI is working for $4 an hour plus $85 a week for food on his BasicsCard. For this he and ten others have been doing 24 hours a week turning an old power station into an arts and craft centre.
Anti-Intervention campaigners organised for PI to tour building sites with CFMEU construction union organisers in Sydney to raise support for the fight for real jobs and real wages in Aboriginal communities.
PI told workers that in 1966 his people went on strike and walked off pastoral stations in the famous Gurindji Wave Hill walk-off. They struck for land rights and against the system where they were paid in rations instead of wages. Gurindji leaders were flown to Sydney to tour work-sites with several unions to build support for their strike.
As PI told mass meetings, 44 years later he had come to Sydney to ask the union movement to support his people—once more fighting for real wages and real jobs. Workers at the meetings were disgusted to hear that PI is being paid $4 an hour for work they get paid $24 to $26 an hour to do. Many signed petitions and $900 was collected at the two largest sites.
PI also addressed MUA members at Port Botany and spoke to the Labour Council meeting of Unions NSW. In Melbourne he addressed a public meeting of 50 people, as well as meeting officials from the NUW and was interviewed by The Age.
The campaign for Jobs with Justice in Aboriginal communities has forced Minister Macklin to respond to reports of mass exploitation under the new CDEP (now merely work-for-the-dole). Macklin has tried to side-line concerns by announcing a departmental investigation. But the exploitation of workers like PI is not an aberration—this is how the NT government intends to provide services through the new Mega Shires across the NT.
As the list of unionists in contact with the campaign grows, the possibilities for extending and escalating resistance to the Intervention are increased.
Get involved in the campaign. Sign the petition online at: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/jobswithjustice/