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Workers Reject War Madness

Both the Pakistani and Indian regimes have nuclear weapons and are currently whipping up nationalism and chauvinism in order to create war hysteria. Neither regime cares for the interests of the working class and peasantry of the region. Since coming to power, the Pakistani military dictatorship under Musharraf has introduced vicious anti-working class, neoliberal policies. The Vajpayee Government pursues similar attacks. The Vajpayee Coalition Government is also unstable and is attempting to use the threat of war to strengthen its strategic and political interests in the region.

For the last few months — on both sides — the inflation rate has increased rapidly. In Pakistan, the government has increased the price of petrol three times and also increased utility bills and prices of daily commodities. The Indian government has imposed a war tax on their citizens. Both governments have increased their defence budget. The people in Pakistan and India are paying the price for the current uncertain situation.

Whenever the Indo/Pak governments want to divert their people’s attention from the failures and weakness of the ruling élite, they raise the issue of Kashmir and threaten each other.

Faced with this situation, we workers from both sides — as well as from around the globe — must reject and strongly agitate against war madness. Workers’ collective and united struggle can bring peace, prosperity and sustainability in the region as well as in the world.

Aima Mahmood
Working Women Organisation,
Lahore, Pakistan

Mean Spirited Budget

The Disability Support Pension does not currently exclude anyone from looking for employment. The real point is how to actually enable people with disabilities to access work and participate in society.

There are 600,000 unemployed people and at least 150,000 are long-term unemployed. The Federal Budget would add another 200,000 people with disabilities to this queue. There are no job creation programs, there are no retraining programs, there are no decent services available which really help job seekers to find employment.

I have been organising the unemployed over the last three years. Most unemployed people — like people with a disability — do want work. They want nothing more than to escape from the mean spirited and controlling system.

Unemployed people get their benefits reduced for eight weeks for committing minor mistakes. They get these breaches, even if it was not their fault at all.

People with disabilities deserve to be treated equally. But if that means that they also deserve an $800 breach when their access cab is late for an interview or when they are late for their volunteer work because their carer arrived late, then I cannot agree.

People with disabilities are already contributing as much as we let them. It is not their fault if there are no jobs, if there is prejudice or if they are unemployed.

The proposals in the Federal Budget are not the right initiatives to get people into the workforce.

Monika Baker
Disability Action,
West Croydon, SA

Anti-union Commission Gravy Train

This Royal Commission gravy train is a long one and there are plenty of passengers.

In the Royal carriage we have Olde King Cole with his $660,000 salary, plus his $140,000 pension, plus his serviced apartment and his 52 airline tickets and his mobile phone, his Comcar chauffeured service and hundreds of dollars in weekly living allowance.

Then in the First Class carriage there are the four senior lawyers taking home fat fees of $21,000 a week, plus accommodation, plus living expenses.

They are supported by nine Junior Counsel, each of whom earn at least $1,600 a day. The whole lot of them will cream off more than $19.1 million during the gravy train trip.

The Secretary of the Commission is taking home $200,000 to his taxpayer-funded, fully furnished house in Brighton, and a meals and incidentals allowance of $300 a week.

Also enjoying the ride are the Media Director and his offsider. It remains to be seen what value the community is getting from their $613,000 share of this $60 million extravaganza.

Nice work if you can get it. And they spend all their time getting into building workers for trying to protect their wages and conditions.

Four case studies were presented and employer witnesses examined about their interviews with a claims officer from the Construction, Forestry. Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). The employers had not paid proper entitlements to their workers. Not interested in any of the illegality, the Commission’s counsel was obsessed with reenacting what he claimed was the swearing that went on — when women were present. And he found that smoking had been happening in the office —and there were cold (soft) drink cans on the desk!

The CFMEU has evidence that our Victorian claims office was able to recover $10.7 million in employer underpayment to members during 13 months in 2001 – 2002. That’s evidence of a hell of a lot of theft, but the Commission was not at all interested in going down that rabbit hole.

The CFMEU is asking for your support. We all rallied behind the Maritime Union (MUA) when it was under attack from Reith. Now Abbott is attacking the CFMEU and building unions through the Cole Royal Commission.

We built this city. We built this state. And, like the MUA, we’re here to stay.

Martin Kingham
CFMEU, Victorian Branch

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