ACTU tour learns of Intervention atrocities

In November a 20-strong trade union delegation organised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), visited Central Australia on a fact finding mission to hear firsthand the impacts of the NT Intervention.
A broad range of unions were represented, including ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence and the CFMEU and LHMU, whose NT branches have committed to a recruitment campaign of Aboriginal workers struggling against unfair pay and unemployment created by the Intervention.
The delegation visited Utopia, 250kms northeast of Alice Springs and attended a meeting of the Central Land Council (CLC). They heard fiery accounts of the loss of resources and self-determination by CLC representatives from across the region.
In Alice Springs the delegation attended meetings organised by the Tangentyere Council and the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG).
At the IRAG meeting, workers from Amoonguna explained that under reforms to Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP), they are being compelled to work 16 hours a week for $115 cash, plus $115 credit on a BasicsCard. They spoke of being left unable to feed their families of even buy lunch while at work. These workers received the same scandalous pay while doing repairs and maintenance for the government’s $672 million Indigenous housing program.
Gurindji workers from Kalkaringi explained how the Intervention had taken them back to the “ration days” when they were paid in food instead of cash. They asked the union movement for the same support given to Gurindji workers during the Wave Hill walk-off in the 1960s.
Reportbacks from unionists on the tour have been organised in major cities, strengthening collaboration between Aboriginal rights activists and local trade union branches.
An ACTU sponsored Indigenous Workers Conference is being planned for Darwin between February 16-18 next year.
By Lauren Mellor


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