From the TUC

Commonwealth unions tell Australian PM: abuse of workers’ rights widespread

26 Oct 2011, By

Julia Gillard

Australian PM Julia Gillard at CHOGM 2011. Photo ©Commonwealth Secretariat/Annaliese Frank

I’m taking part in the People’s Forum that happens before each biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), this time in Perth WA. Today we met – courtesy of the ACTU – the host, Australian PM Julia Gillard to tell her how widespread violations of trade union rights are in the Commonwealth, especially focusing on Fiji and Swaziland.The Commonwealth Trade Union Group, run by the ITUC but including all unions in the Commonwealth, today published a report on those abuses. Despite only covering 33 of the 54 Commonwealth countries, it weighs in at a depressing 94 pages, and reveals that a quarter of those countries have not yet ratified the eight core workers’ rights conventions of the ILO.

We highlighted the abuse suffered by trade unionists in two dictatorships: Fiji, which has been suspended, and Swaziland, which we argued should be. The points were given force by leaders of the Fijian TUC (President Daniel Urai) and the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (Secretary General Mduduzi Gina).

They were part of the largest Commonwealth trade union delegation for years, from Australia, Great Britain, India, Malawi, Malaysia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe as well as Fiji and Swaziland. ACTU President Ged Kearney led the delegation, which also met with union leaders from Western Australia.