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Category Archives: Wage Slavery
based Boohoo under fire after investigation over slavery wages at Leicester factory – About Manchester – About Manchester
Posted: July 5, 2020 at 10:05 am
The Manchester based fashion giant Boohoo is facing an investigation after workers in Leicester making clothes destined for the the Company are being paid as little as 3.50 an hour.
The undercover Sunday Times investigation found that Jaswal Fashions, was also operating last week during the localised coronavirus lockdown without additional hygiene or social distancing measures in place. The undercover reporter spent two days working in the factory where he was told to expect 3.50 an hour, despite the minimum wage in Britain for those aged 25 and over being 8.72.
He obtained covert video footage of himself packing garments made in the factory under the label of Nasty Gal part of the Boohoo brand says the report in this mornings paper.
Boohoo has already come under fire for allegedly risking the spread of coronavirus in Leicester after claims that factories supplying the online retailer told staff to come into work during lockdown despite being sick.
The Company which began life on a Manchester market store has been at the forefront of the internet shopping explosion for clothes and has steadily brought in new brands over the years including the Nasty Gal brand.
Along with Primark and Missguided, it has been criticised for fuelling a throwaway fast-fashion culture that has been linked to exploitation of low-paid workers in UK factories.
A statement from Nasty Gal said the company would investigate this newspapers claims, but insisted that Jaswal Fashions was not a direct supplier. It said: Nasty Gal does not allow any of its suppliers to pay less than the minimum wage and has a zero-tolerance approach to incidences of modern slavery.
We have terminated relationships with suppliers where evidence of non-compliance with our strict code of conduct is found.
We will take immediate steps to fully investigate the allegations raised and if the allegations are substantiated we will ensure that our suppliers immediately cease working with Jaswal Fashions.
The rest is here:
Posted: at 10:05 am
UNDER the rubric of Black Lives Matter (UK limited) it is time that the objective of the discourse and movement is swiftly moved on from felling statues and begins to confront the political, moral and historical consequences of the terrible reality of West Indian enslavement.
Caricom, the 20-member association of Caribbean states (all but two, Haiti and Suriname, were former British colonial territories) have since 2104 submitted a 10-point reparations programme to the EU and specifically the UK Government.
Before laying out the details of the Caricom document that needs much greater popular support, allow me to indulge my personal/political reflections.
My partner of 40 years from Barbados can trace her mothers family back to enslavement (but not yet to Africa), all of whom either as chattle-slaves or low-wage labour worked the land on a Drax plantation in St John, Barbados. The Drax family, through James Drax, was the first to introduce chattel African enslavement in 1650 in Drax Hall, Barbados.
READ MORE:Gerry Hassan: A Scottish Border or a Great Divide?
His brother William established a huge slave property in Jamaica, again Drax Hall, while Henry Drax (an 18th-century MP for Dorset) established the St John plantation. The Drax family had a keen interest in protecting the West Indian plantocracy with a very long line of members of parliament. Indeed Richard Drax currently sits on the family seat in Dorset as a backbench Tory member. Some statues live.
Barbados is per capita one of the worlds centres for diabetic amputations after centuries of harmful diets of heavily imported salted fish, starches and sugar. My partners mother, a wonderful woman who after years of night school left the fields, lost half a leg (below the knee) and her left foot. Aunt Shirl went blind and lost both legs. The grandmother who helped raise my wife was wheelchair-bound for more than 30 years. My partner, with hypertension, had a triple bypass three years ago and my eldest son is already a diabetic. I want to expose these details so that when the 10-point declaration is raised, in which the Caribbean public health crisis is brought up, be assured black lives do matter.
Point five of the Caricom Reparation Commission declaration states: The African descended population in the Caribbean has the highest incidence in the world of chronic diseases in the forms of hypertension and type two diabetes. This pandemic is the direct result of the nutritional experience, physical and emotional brutality, and overall stress profiles associated with slavery, genocide, and apartheid.
Over 10 million Africans were imported into the Caribbean during 200 years of slavery. At the end of slavery in the late 19th century less than two million remained. The chronic health condition of Caribbean blacks now constitutes the greatest financial risk to sustainability in the region. Arresting this pandemic requires the injection of science, technology, and capital beyond the capacity of the region.
There is so much more. Below is a summary of the proposals submitted
and asserts that these several actions could constitute crimes against humanity.
The Caricom Reparation Commission asserts that European governments:
l Were owners and traders of enslaved Africans and instructed genocidal actions upon indigenous communities
l Created the legal, financial and fiscal policies necessary for the enslavement of Africans
l Defined and enforced African enslavement and native genocide as in their national interests
l Refused compensation to the enslaved with the ending of their enslavement
l Compensated slave owners at emancipation for the loss of legal property rights in enslaved Africans
l Imposed a further 100 years of racial apartheid upon the emancipated
l Imposed for another 100 years policies designed to perpetuate suffering upon the emancipated and survivors of genocide
l And have refused to acknowledge such crimes or to compensate victims and their descendants.
READ MORE:Revealed: Scottish landowners bid to shoot more birds to save salmon
Some of us may still need reminding of the atrocities and injustices perpetrated in the Caribbean.
When Columbus found the archipelago (and the figures are only for the island chain) there was an estimated 4 million Taino, Carib or Arawak indigenous people . By the time Cromwell sent in his troops in 1665 there were an estimated 2.5 to 3 million (Caricom figures). Today there are less than 30,000 across the 30-plus island archipelago.
Caricom estimates an approximate total of 10 million Africans were imported as enslaved labour in around 200 years. At Emancipation in the 1830s (later in French territories and Cuba) the figure was less than two million. More precise figures for Barbados indicate a total African population of 660,000 (from 1650 -1807) with 84,000 left in 1834. That is genocide in Holocaust dimensions.
This long Caribbean (the sea of the Caribs) chapter in European history with Spain in the vanguard followed by France, England then Scotland, Wales and Ireland joining in plus Denmark, and The Netherlands all have to answer to history and begin the process of healing. Scotland, with a historically long list of around 30 major enslavement investors and another several thousand second-tier participants, will need to address the Caricom concerns.
There are challenges to overcome. Why should we socialise the blame and reparations when it was private gain that lead the charge, supported by pro-enslavement Westminster Governments?
When enslavement has to be compensated in some form, what about shameful imperial commercial activity in other distant parts of the Empire? There is quite a catalogue.
While Scotland seeks its own road to some form of anti-imperialist sovereignty it must come to terms with its own historic commercial imperialism.
Posted: at 10:05 am
These-days the Galwan valley of Laddakh is finding a mention in the headline news of all media outlets owing to Indo-Sino standoff at LAC in Laddakh. The word Galwan in the Galwan valley & its Galwan River has caught immediate attention of social media users who began trolling for origin of the name, Galwan, in the said Valley-River since this word finds good use in common Kashmiri parlance for describing & denoting a particular kind of an individual who is loud-mouthed, or vociferous shouter at others, like horse-keepers in olden days of Kashmir. So, the etymological origin of the name: Galwan. Yes, the Galwan valley-cum-river is named after Ghulam Rassul Galwan, a native Laddakhi Muslim traveler, adventurer & explorer, who in his short span of 47 year life, from 1887 to 1913, intermittently accompanied & worked in service of some famous English, Scottish, Italian & American travelers, of their times, during their expeditions of the Himalaya, Central Asia, Karakuram & Tibet. However, it was Robert Barrett, an American adventurer traveler, to whom he was chiefly devoted, who encouraged him to write down his experiences of various trips & having served his Sahibs: English, Scottish, Italian & American Masters. It was under the guidance of Robert Barrett that he wrote a small book titled Servant of Sahibs in his faulty English, writes Francis Younghusband, a reputed British Army officer, traveler & author of his days, who has written an introduction to this book which was first published in 1923. One can Google out all related trivia about the Galwan-story from the internet for ones academic quest & media posts.
But, what interests me here is not the Galwan-story, or the Galwan-valley-river, as such, nor the founder thereof, Ghulam Rassul Galwan, though his small work has made him a name to be reckoned with till times to come. Honestly, it is the title Servant of Sahibs of that book that specifically fascinates me to pause & ponder doesnt it smack of master-servant relationship. It looks archaic way of looking and thinking about the things. But, in his time of 19th & early 20th century, Galwan was definitely a servant of his masters. It was the time when master-servant-relationship was used for any kind of labour hired by the employers mostly in private domain. But then, Wage, Industrial & Labor Laws, growth of the industry, from 18th century onwards, the relationship came to be called employer-employee relationship which is based on defined terms of contract of employment, although critics still call it wage-slavery less than involuntary servitude. In organised sector, wage slavery does not have much role to play as the employees work voluntarily for the good wage under the protection of institutionalized-employment. But the main problem lies with unorganized sector where 80% of total workforce in India is still working for extremely low daily or monthly wages with no job security at all, mostly as non-unionized workers. It is generally the underprivileged members of our societies with their personal & domestic compulsions who work for pittance with private individuals, contractors, shop-owners, small scale & cottage industries, small private firms, media channels & multiple other private bodies & associations, and have to work literally as servants of their sahibs. The servants of their sahibs should not be confused with civil or public servants, who are the career bureaucrats in the State hierarchy of all countries.
The word sahib is an Arabic word which has found its place in multiple languages of Indian sub-continent & Central Asian States. Its short form is saab which is invariably used in Bollywood movies, TV dramas, offices, businesses & everywhere else in the sub-continental life. The servants of their sahibs are a commonplace of our societies & times since long. They owe their origin to the colonial period of British India. According to Collins Online Dictionary, the word Sahib is a polite form of addressing a man in a position of authority. Sahib was used especially of white government officials in the period of British rule of India. Hence, British Sahibs & Memsahibs. To enliven the discussion, let me tell you something interesting. Till recent past, whenever a tourist-gora-couple walked on Srinagar streets, the little children of the mohalla would assemble & tread on their heels all around & sing an old Kashmiri-distich like a chorus with hand-clapping: Memsahib- Sahib Salaam, Pate Pate Ghulam [Welcome Memsahib- Sahib, your servants follow you] The happy and smiling Memsahib-Sahib would then stop walking for a while, look behind and give some toffees to the singing-children. The toffees were all that for which the little children followed them and sung Kashmiri-distich. The little children, those days, must have memorized this Kashmiri-couplet on their lips from their elders-parents teaching. The colonial tradition did not end. With growth of businesses & expansion of employment sector in Kashmir, you will find, not children now, but big adults treading on heels of their bosses all around their offices, hurling loads of praises on their shoulders, for big toffees of undue favours. This is the area of flattery, a vicious mental-slavery, which abounds in innumerable examples around. In a banking organisation, I have seen, subordinates in presence of their bosses, responding & shushing their Salam-offering-colleagues, with finger- wagging & index on lips. Some would turn red & stammer Sa, sa, sa, sa, Sir before their bosses.
As the people of the Indian subcontinent were subjects of British Rulers, white Sahibs were their masters. However, even after their mastery ended with fall of their colonial rule, the word retained its permanent niche in daily conversations as a distinguishable form of address by subordinates towards their masters in some position of authority over them. So, in post colonial period, we see both black & white Sahibs on the heads of servants in all walks of life in the Indian subcontinent. The servants of their sahibs retain their position & relevance as literary servants too, since they are not independent of the social context in which they exist, for the literary men who use them as their prime characters in their fiction & prose. For the idealist German philosopher, George WF Hegel, in his The Phenomenology, the master-servant relationship exists between God & man. Frederick Copestone has explained Hegels philosophical thought in these simple words: Here the master is the one who succeeds in obtaining recognition from the other, in the sense he imposes himself as the others value. The slave is the one who sees his own true self in the other. [VIII: 183]
But here we may mention of servants of their sahibs who live in working class of our Kashmirian community. In view of long agonizing history of Kashmir, the British colonial legacy of slavery-mastery in employer-employee-relationships is deep-rooted in the psyche of many Kashmiris, and as such, it is reflected in all their commercial, business & official relationships. The workers, the employees, whatever you call them, work & serve their sahibs in businesses, trade, industry & offices , wholeheartedly & devotedly. So far, so good. This class of servants know the tricks of the trade either by themselves, their self-ability, or they learn them from their masters, who train & teach them on that. Their masters use their skills of the trade only for augmenting their own business interests, building their own empire of fortune to their misfortune. In one instance, I know, Rafiq & Shafiq, two Zchatebojis (apprentices) worked at home Karkhana (workplace) of a Srinagrian goldsmith who, as Ustad (teacher), had trained & taught them all skills of his trade. But one day, the goldsmith was heard saying to some of his friends that all kinds of defects [Kasr viz, Zchate Kasr, Phrate Kasr, Vate Kasr,] in manufacturing & assembling of his gold jewellery, were tricks of the trade carried out by Rafiq & Shafiq, for which he had no responsibility. What a shame? How that goldsmith was exploiting his poor apprentices? An Ustad imparting all in-genuine tricks of trade to his protg brazenly denying his liability for the defects in his goods!
To keep their bosses in good mood, these workers, servants of their sahibs, sometimes resort to , or are used to resort to, unfair means with customers in discharging their jobs. Most of the times, their bosses exploit not only their skills of the trade, but their compulsive financial needs & scarcity of jobs in the market, to their own advantage. Its direct result is that the servants of their sahibs internalize the corrupt conduct as a normal in their daily lives. Mama Kul a matriculate domestic-worker, (Gharailo Mulazim), faulty-flaunt English-speaker, was an example to elaborate the idea. He was used by a Pashmina-Shawl merchants family of Shar e Khas (old city Srinagar) as their business representative for his two qualities: First, Kasme Khitre [false-wearing]. As he was a well known profane swearer in his life, he always generously swore on every divine & sacred thing in the world for convincing a buyer about finality of the prices, durability & originality of the material used in manufacturing of his masters goods. Second, his faulty-flaunt English was utilised by illiterate merchant-masters for speaking for them in selling their goods to foreign English-speaking customers.
All servants of their sahibs are not lucky enough like Ghulam Rassul Galwan who had found selfless [not native] sahibs under whose tutelage he earned a permanent niche in history. But, Rafiq & Shafiq , and Mama Kul, whether consciously or unconsciously, consensually or un-consensually, will continue to serve their selfish-sahibs who will only exploit their skills of the trade for their own material good. The exploitation of the servants by their sahibs will go on till the problems of unemployment & compulsive economic needs of the servants persist in our society &, even in this modern age, the relationship between the two will continue to have a semblance of feudal phantom of bondage for necessity between them. The servants will go on slavishly subordinating themselves to their sahibs which will turn the whole relationship into an exploitative situation by their sahibs.
New York Times’ Charles Blow demands the removal of monuments to Washington and other amoral monsters – World Socialist Web Site
Posted: at 10:05 am
By Niles Niemuth 1 July 2020
An opinion piece by New York Times columnist Charles Blow appeared online Sunday under the headline, Yes, Even George Washington, calling for the removal of all public monuments to the first President of the United States, whom Blow has judged to be among the amoral monsters who led the American Revolution and helped found the country 244 years ago.
On the issue of American slavery, I am an absolutist: enslavers were amoral monsters, Blow declares. His argument is an extension of that advanced in the Times racialist 1619 Project, which claims that the aim of the American Revolution was to defend slavery against British plans for its abolition.
Blow writes: Some people who are opposed to taking down monuments ask, If we start, where will we stop? It might begin with Confederate generals, but all slave owners could easily become targets. Even George Washington himself.
Blow then proclaims, with the special elegance that distinguishes his columns, To that I say, abso-fricking-lutely!
Early Monday morning, not long after Blows column was published, the monument arch in Washington Square Park in New York City commemorating the centenary of Washingtons inauguration was vandalized with red paint. The paint dripped down from the heads of two statues of Washington, one depicting him as the commander of the revolutionary Continental Army and the other as president.
This latest assault on a monument to Washington follows the pulling down last month of Washington and Jefferson monuments in Portland, Oregon, and the toppling of a bust of Civil War general and Reconstruction President Ulysses S. Grant in San Francisco, California. Monuments to Abraham Lincoln, who led the Second American revolution and destroyed slavery, as well as monuments to abolitionists such as Robert Gould Shaw and Hans Christian Heg, have come under attack as racist and white supremacist.
The attack by the Times on Washington is a part of the effort by the Democratic Party and its operatives to derail the popular multiracial protests against police violence which erupted last month in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Capitalizing on the historical ignorance which they have fostered, Blow and the Times are working overtime to redirect popular opposition along racial lines and behind the Democratic Party.
There is nothing progressive in the destruction of statues and monuments which memorialize the leaders of the American Revolution and the Civil War.
But for Blow, there is nothing to discuss about the contradictory yet progressive legacy of the men who led the first Revolution and set the ground for the annihilation of slavery less than nine decades later.
If one accepts Blows definition of those who owned slaves as amoral monsters, beyond the pale, then even those who opposed slavery at the time, such as John Adams, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, cannot be judged innocent. After all, they collaborated with those evil beasts, Washington and Jefferson, in waging war against Great Britain and establishing a Constitution which protected slavery. The whole project to create A government of laws and not of men, a precept laid out by Adams, must be thrown out, having been tainted by the irredeemable sin of slavery.
If indeed the American Revolution was made by amoral monsters, how is it possible that these wicked creatures, beyond human compassion and unconstrained by any ethical considerations, came to produce such moral and epoch-shaping documents as the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights? How was it possible that Thomas Jefferson could claim, in a world dominated by monarchies and feudal relations, where birth meant everything and hierarchy dominated, that it is self-evident that all men were created equal? Or advance the conception that the people had a right to revolution, to overthrow an oppressive government and establish their own?
Prior to Jefferson the right to life, liberty and property had been clearly outlined, but in the Declaration of Independence he advanced a much more radical conception of the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Such a conception could only have been advanced at a time when questions were being raised about the very nature of property and what it meant to hold any form of property, particularly fellow human beings.
Despite Blows contention, even Washingtons relationship to slavery both in regards to the political as well as the personal was in fact quite complex and changed over time, from a position of taking the institution as a given, having inherited his first slaves from his father while still a boy, to questioning the institution among his closest correspondents and ultimately freeing his slaves after his death.
As with society at large, it was the American Revolution, with its declaration of fundamental human equality, which placed for the first time a question mark over Washingtons views on slavery. In 1774, he signed his name to the Fairfax Resolves, a document which included a denunciation of the trans-Atlantic slave trade as wicked, cruel and unnatural, and called for its immediate end.
During the American Revolution nearly 5,000 blacks served under his command in the Continental Army and Washington approved the formation of all-black battalions with the guarantee of emancipation for those slaves who fought for American independence. He wrote to a friend in 1786 that he had no intention of buying another slave, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by [inserted: The Legislature by] which slavery in this Country may be abolished by slow, sure, & imperceptable [sic] degrees.
While he signed the first Fugitive Slave Act as president in 1793, allowing for masters to reclaim runaway slaves, Washington also signed the renewed Northwest Ordinance in 1789 which banned slavery in the areas north of the Ohio river and east of the Mississippi and the 1794 Slave Trade Act, which prohibited American citizens and residents from engaging in the international slave trade. Despite efforts to appease the slave interests, the growing divisions between Southern slave states and Northern free states which would erupt in the Civil War were already becoming clear at this early point in US history.
Revolutions are studied and celebrated, with all their blemishes, because they are key moments in history in which humanity pushed forward into the unknown. Such were the advances made by the American Revolution and the Civil War; the French Revolution and Haitian Revolution; and the Russian Revolution of 1917. The inconsistencies of the revolutionaries, and the setbacks that followed the advances, testify to the complexity and contradictory character of the historical process. But the failures do not discredit the advances made.
Blow is oblivious to history. Instead he advances a religious conception of history, in which man is fundamentally evil, having fallen from the graces of God. Anything which pays tribute to anyone or anything complicit in the sin of slavery must be condemned and expunged.
This moral certitude, however, raises serious questions about this wrathful moralists employment at the New York Times. How can Blow account for the fact that he works for a newspaper that defended slavery before the Civil War, and which inveighed mercilessly and ruthlessly against the abolitionists who fiercely agitated for the end of slavery in the 1850s? An editorial published by the paper on May 11, 1859, The Abolitionists Again, denounced abolitionist writings as trash and slandered William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips as stock actors of the troupe. The paper also carried a report that relished in the attempted lynching of an abolitionist in Mississippi in September 1857 who had a rope placed around his neck and was whipped 238 times by a pro-slavery mob.
Given the papers history of spewing anti-Abolitionist rhetoric, Blow is certainly obligated to resign from the Times and call for its closure. Under Blows rubric, there can be no excuse that these articles were written more than 150 years ago.
The New York Times certainly is rotten, not because of what was published in its pages in 1859 but because of what is published in its pages today in defense of capitalism (wage slavery) and imperialism. But it is doubtful that Blow will go that far. After all, his moral absolutes end at the point when they might adversely affect his own professional and financial interests.
Writing in 1939, Leon Trotsky, the co-leader of the Russian Revolution and founder of the Fourth International, took the measure of the moralistic, i.e., hypocritical and cynical, approach to history taken by the likes of Blow and the Times:
These gentlemen forget with remarkable ease that man has been cutting his path from a semi-simian condition to a harmonious society without any guide; that the task is a difficult one, that for every step or two forward there follows half a step, a step, and sometimes even two steps back. They forget that the path is strewn with the greatest obstacles and that no one has invented or could have invented a secret method whereby an uninterrupted rise on the escalator of history would be rendered secure. Sad to say, Messrs. Rationalists were not invited to a consultation when man was in process of creation and when the conditions of mans development were first taking shape. But generally speaking, this matter is beyond repair.
For arguments sake, let us grant that all previous revolutionary history and, if you please, all history in general is nothing but a chain of mistakes. But what to do about present day reality? What about the colossal army of permanently unemployed, the pauperized farmers, the general decline of economic levels, the approaching war? The skeptical wiseacres promise us that sometime in the future they will catalogue all the banana peels on which the great revolutionary movements of the past have slipped. But will these gentlemen tell us what to do today, right now?
We would wait in vain for an answer.
Go here to read the rest:
Posted: at 10:05 am
For Carolina*, who is from Honduras, Australia seemed like an ideal place to learn, explore and work.
But she soon found it wasnt all she expected.
"My hope is to leave this job because every time I remember that they've taken advantage of me, it annoys me," she told SBS News.
Carolina, who is in her 20s,has worked at a cafe-restaurant in Sydney for almost 18 months as a barista andwaitress while studying leadership and management at SELC Australia college.
Even before COVID-19 hit, Carolina was being paid just $20 an hour, which is below the minimum wage.When the business suffered during the pandemic, her wage plummeted to $11 an hour.
She was told she was paid "$11 because the sales weren't very high. So they told me that's all they could offer".
"If I didn't accept, they made me understand they'd let me go," she said.
Carolina's story isn't an isolated one.
A study released on Wednesday byUTS law Associate Professor Laurie Berg and UNSW Associate Professor Bassina Farbenblum shows wage theft is still endemic, four years since the last major study.
The study, International Students and Wage Theft in Australia,surveyed more than 5,000 international students across Australia between 9 April and 30 May 2019.
It found more than three quarters (77 per cent) were paid below the minimum casual hourly wage and 26 per centearned only $12 or less an hour, something most prevalent among Chinese respondents.
Almost two-thirds of respondents didnt try to access help, 48 per cent said this was because they feared losing their job and 38 per cent said they didnt want anything to jeopardise their visa.
More than three quarters of international students are being paid below the minimum wage according to one study.
"It's pretty clear that wage theft remains business as usual for employers of international students," Associate Professor Farbenblum said.
"It's really up to the government to make sure that employers are doing the right thing and to give students the message that they're not breaking the law and they are not at fault if their employer underpays them, it's the employer's responsibility to pay them correctly."
It's also why Carolina doesn't want to be identified.
"I don't know if I need a lawyer, I don't know to what lengths it'll go to, if it will affect my visa, so a lot of the time the most comfortable position is to stay quiet because you don't know what to expect if you say something."
The authors of the study say the tendency among international students not to speak up or report their employer sets up an environment where businesses feel they can get away with wage theft.
"When you have an exceptionally vulnerable cohort who don't have support and employers who are willing to act unscrupulously to exploit that, we definitely see the end of this veering into modern slavery," Associate Professor Farbenblum said.
As international students are ineligible for federal government support payments - except for being able to access some of their superannuation last financial year - she says many will be vulnerable to exploitation due to their desperate need to work among an already tight labour market.
It's something that is only going to get worse amid the impacts of COVID-19, they say.
We're going to see a perfect storm for increased exploitation as the labour market reopens, we're going to see increased employer impunity as international students are very fearful of coming forward because they don't want to lose their jobs in a market where jobs are scarce.
The study calls for the 40-hour a fortnight cap on the employment of international students to be scrapped and the creation of a wage claims tribunal.It also says a "firewall" blocking information passing between the Fair Work Ombudsman and Department of Home Affairs would increase the likelihood of students reporting exploitation in the workplace.
"The government has been tinkering around the edges and that clearly hasn't been working. We need strong and effective and deep reforms to our labour enforcement,"Associate Professor Farbenblumsaid.
"It's close to impossible for most temporary migrants to ever get the wages back that they're owed and so there's no real benefit to them risking their visa to come forward and report."
The government says it has no plans to change the 40-hour limit.
International students are being urged to report wage theft.
A spokeswoman for Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said: "Students come here to study and their rights and obligations are very clearly stated. There are no plans to change these rules."
"Worker exploitation is illegal. Employers are required to abide by all relevant Australian workplace laws. If they are breaching these laws, they should be reported."
Employers doing the wrong thing can be reported anonymously at fairwork.gov.au.
One person who knows the issue better than most is the former chair of the Migrant Workers' Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels.
Last year, the taskforce found underpayment was widespread and entrenched, especially among international students.
Professor Fels says the sooner jail sentences for deliberate underpayers are brought in, the better.
"Action now is more important than ever. Coronavirus has made the problem worse there's more pressure on employers not to pay fully and students are more exploitable," he said.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said: "the government continues to progress the recommendations of the Report of the Migrant Workers Taskforce".
"Proposals to introduce new penalties for the worst forms of worker underpayment are being progressed as part of the Compliance and Enforcement Working Group part of the Governments Industrial Relations Reform working group process which had a productive first meeting last week," he said.
Education Minister Dan Tehan says anyone being underpaid should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
"We don't want to see that occurring in Australia, it's why we've resourced the Fair Work Ombudsman to clamp down on any exploitation of workers," he said.
Carolina wants to encourage other international students to come forward.
"I'd like to tell them not to let yourself get taken advantage of and say 'no'."
*Name has been changed
The Migrant Worker Justice Initiative wants to get a better picture of the challenges facing temporary migrants in Australia during COVID-19 and is asking those interested to join their nationwide survey at mwji.org.
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The 244th anniversary of our nations founding promises to be one of the most contentious in recent memory. In the last few weeks thousands have taken to the streets in protests that questioned whether America values all of its citizens with the same worth. They began with decrying police brutality and quickly progressed to violence, fire and rage. The toppling of Confederate memorials escalated to attacks on statues of Washington and Jefferson, and even Ulysses S. Grant - who led the army that swept the scourge of slavery from the land. Meanwhile, a pandemic rages and a fractious presidential campaign rumbles on. As we mark this Independence Day, Americans are being forced to look around and inside ourselves, and ask if the story we tell ourselves is still worth believing.
The wisest among us have asked this before. On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass addressed precisely this point in his oration, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? Twenty times in the address, in referring to the American Founding, he invokes the phrase your fathers - America and the Americans being a thing, he says, from which he and the slaves of America are excluded. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. Yet at its close the address takes a turn. Having exposed and excoriated American hypocrisy on Independence Day (and rightfully so), he abruptly situates himself and his story and his hope squarely in the American Founding and its documents.
He dismissed the idea that the U.S. Constitution was pro-slavery, arguing that it contained neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing. Instead he declared that the Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. In conclusion, Douglass says: I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hopedrawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions.
America was not living up to its own ideals, and Douglass was pointing that out in one of the most eloquent and important speeches in American history. The story Frederick Douglass told himself was a story in which he, and the lowliest of slaves, were all included in the American story.
The individual stories we tell ourselvesnot just about our hardships but about who we arecombine together to create our American story. Every one of us adds a small thread to the larger fabric of our culture. And as we change and evolve, so evolve our cultural norms. The American story itself evolves. This isnt a bad thing, either. It is natural and constant throughout history.
But something is changing for the worse. The American story that Frederick Douglass believed in is being threatened by people who have lost sight of his message. The fortitude that helped Douglass escape slavery, fight for its abolition and work to push America toward a fuller expression of its founding ideals is sorely lacking today. Now, powerlessness is a virtue. Weakness is strength.
People are told that not only are they powerless and oppressed, but there is a specific other group to blame for it. The phrase check your privilege becomes the favorite tactic used to discredit opponents and subvert real discourse. Groups are promised more power over other groups in the form of wealth redistribution, reparations or wage regulation. The resentment that individuals may have silently felt for one another is encouraged and even elevated as a virtue. Anger is good. Wear your oppression proudly. Resist. Seek revolution.
The politics of grievance and resentment become mainstream and arrive in full force. The institutions that our society is built upon law enforcement, religion, the financial system, the government are labeled as fundamentally oppressive and become shamed and discredited. And if our institutions are always to blame, then the next and final ultimate oppressor should be obvious: America itself.
In the search for oppressors to target, the identity politicians and outrage specialists have found the ultimate boogeyman: our American founding. In a growing number of circles, cheered on by major publications such as the New York Times, America is the vessel and origin of evil, the embodiment of sin against a more enlightened progressive ideal. This is the heart of the new culture war, which is the fundamental question of whether America is inherently good or inherently bad.
Take, for just one example, the New York Times 1619 Project, explicitly designed to reframe the American Founding around slavery, instead of its actual foundation in 1776 and the promise of liberty. Among many other historical inaccuracies, the Times conveniently ignores the fact that Americas founding documents were consistently used by abolitionists - like Frederick Douglass - as a primary argument for ending slavery. Grievance reaches back a long way to make its case in the pages of the Times, even blaming modern traffic jams on the legacy of slavery.
It is up to usall of usto reverse this trend. We must decide to tell the story of America that embodies the founding ideals and gave us the miracle of opportunity that we have today. Like many stories, it is filled with villains, heroes, dark times, proud victories, sadness, overwhelming joy, failures, and triumphs. It is a human story, after all. It carries with it all of the inescapable imperfections that are inherent to the human condition. But just as your story does not end with your suffering or your failings, neither does ours. America is a fabric woven from the threads of human historys best stories, best attributes, and greatest ideas. In The Roots of American Order, Russell Kirk wrote: Whatever the failings of Americathe American order has been a conspicuous success in the perspective of human history.
We can tell the story of our sinsand we should, for greater perspectivebut we must also recognize that these sins do not render corrupt the foundational ideals of America. Our imperfections do not define us. What does define us is the greatness that America has generated.
Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawWhat to us is the Fourth of July? Ocasio-Cortez builds political army, and a fundraising machine to match GOP lawmakers call for new sanctions on senior Chinese officials MORE, a former Navy SEAL, represents Texas 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. This essay is adapted from his book FORTITUDE: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage, out now from Twelve.
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Nepal''s ruling party in grave crisis: PM Oli to Cabinet ministers
Kathmandu: Facing growing demand for his resignation, Nepal''s embattled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said that the ruling communist party is facing a grave crisis, indicating that it may split soon, according to a media report on Sunday.
FGN10 US-TRUMP-LD INDIA
America loves India, says US President Donald Trump
Washington: President Donald Trump has said that America loves India, as he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for greeting him and the people of the country on the occasion of the 244th Independence Day of the United States. By Lalit K Jha
Singapore reports 136 new COVID-19 cases
Singapore: Singapore has recorded 136 new COVID-19 cases, mostly foreign workers living in dormitories, taking the total number of coronavirus infections in the country to 44,800, according to the health ministry.
Clothing factory in UK faces modern slavery probe
London: A clothing factory named Jaswal Fashions based in the eastern England city of Leicester faces a modern slavery investigation after an undercover reporter alleged sweatshop-like conditions and below minimum wage payments to its workers, many of them from India. By Aditi Khanna
WHO ending hydroxycholorquine trial for COVID
Berlin, Jul 5 (AP) The World Health Organization says it is ending a trial into whether anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine helps patients hospitalised with COVID-19. PTI TEAM NSA
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Employment Law and Workplace Relations Monthly Update – In the media, in practice and courts, cases and legislation – Employment and HR – Australia -…
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Former accounting firm in courtThe Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in theFederal Circuit Court against the former operator of a Sydneyaccounting firm, UHY Sothertons Sydney Pty Ltd for allegedlyfailing to pay entitlements owing on termination of employment inthe context of a sale of business (29 June 2020). More...
ABCC successful in age discrimination caseIn a decision delivered by the Federal Court, a WesternAustralian labour hire company has been found to have discriminatedagainst a worker because of his age (26 June 2020). More...
Wake up call for labour hire employers on wagesAn Australian Building and Construction Commission(ABCC) audit of 63 labour hire employers revealeda disappointing 79 per cent didn't meet all their obligationsunder Australia's workplace laws (19 June 2020). More...
ABC signs Enforceable UndertakingThe Australian Broadcasting Corporation(ABC) has back-paid over $11.9 million to morethan 1,800 current and former casual staff and entered into anEnforceable Undertaking (EU) with the FWO. Thenational broadcaster has also reached agreement with the Fair WorkOmbudsman to make a "contrition payment" for underpayingmore than 1,900 casual staff over several years (19 June 2020). More...
Former Sydney entrepreneur penalisedThe Fair Work Ombudsman has secured $264,690 in penaltiesagainst a former Sydney entrepreneur, his wife and three companieshe operated in response to employees being underpaid more than $1million (18 June 2020). More...
Portable long service entitlements for Queenslandcommunity service workersThe Palaszczuk Government has passed legislation tointroduce a portable long service leave scheme for workers in thecommunity services industry (17 June 2020). More...
High Court asked to overturn 'double dipping'decisionLabour hire firm Workpac has launched a High Courtchallenge to a landmark ruling on casual employment, warning itwill expose businesses to up to $14 billion in backpay. Theapplication filed in the High Court by WorkPac seeks special leaveto appeal the decision of the Full Federal Court in the WorkPac vRossato case. More...
Wage Theft legislation passes Victorian ParliamentVictoria has become the first state in the country to passlaws establishing criminal penalties for employers who deliberatelyunderpay or don't pay their workers. New record keepingoffences are aimed at employers who attempt to conceal wage theftby falsifying or failing to keep records (17 June 2020). More...
Posties deliver security messageAustralia Post has confirmed that no postal worker will beforced to accept a redundancy as part of the temporary changes tothe postal service it has made in response to COVID-19 (15 June2020). More...
Court penalises CFMMEU for its "unconscionable waragainst free association" on building sitesThe Federal Court has penalised the CFMMEU and two of itsofficials $123,500 as a result of unlawfully coercing workers tojoin and pay membership fees to the union and coercingsubcontractors to pay "union rates" during constructionwork on Melbourne University's college site in Parkville in2016 (05 June 2020). More...
Slavery paper to free from bondageThe Department of Home Affairs has released a scopingpaper on how the Australian public sector can avoid supportingmodern slavery in its procurement and purchasing practices (04 June2020). More...
Transport company in courtThe Fair Work Ombudsman has commenced legal action in theFederal Circuit Court against Sydney-based passenger transportcompany, Ambient Transport Pty Ltd (03 June 2020). More... Over $200,000 penalties for restaurant underpaymentsThe Fair Work Ombudsman has secured penalties of $209,000against a Melbourne restaurateur, his two companies and hisin-house accountant for underpaying workers (01 June 2020). More...
ABCC: Industry Update 10 June 2020 EditionThe June edition of Industry Update features the latestinformation from the ABCC, Commonwealth, state and territoryinitiatives for the construction industry during and post theCOVID-19 pandemic, court outcomes and more. More...
Department of Jobs and Small Business: Monthly LeadingIndicator of Employment June 2020The Monthly Leading Indicator of Employment (theIndicator) has fallen for the seventh consecutive month inJune 2020, after three consecutive monthly rises. TheIndicator's decline this month is due to falls in three (out offive) of the Indicator's components. More...
The future is now: creating decent workpost-pandemicSunil Johal; Public Policy Forum: The COVID-19 pandemic,which swept across the globe in the early months of 2020, hasrapidly accelerated long-standing trends in labour markets andeconomies around the world. Income inequality, precarious work andthe digitisation of the economy are now issues that policymakersmust grapple with (12 June 2020). More...
Fair Work Ombudsman: 1.75% increase to minimumwagesThe Fair Work Commission has announced a 1.75% increase tominimum wages. Increases to awards will start on 3 different datesfor different groups of awards. Details outlined here (19 June2020). More...
FWC: Annual Wage Review 201920 decisionissuedThe Fair Work Commission has issued the Annual Wage Review201920 decision. A summary of the decision is available onthe Summaries of significant decisions page on the Commission'swebsite (19 June 2020). More...
Commonwealth Modern Slavery Statement PaperThis would report on modern slavery risks in theGovernment's procurement and investment activities and explainthe steps taken to identify and respond to those risks, and linkwith Australia's Modern Slavery Act 2018, the only legislationin the world requiring a Government to report on modern slaveryrisks in its procurement activities (04 June 2020). More...
FWC: Filing fee Dismissals, general protections& anti-bullying applicationsFrom 1 July 2020 the application fee for dismissals,general protections and anti-bullying applications made undersections 365, 372, 394, 773 and 789FC of the Fair Work Act 2009will increase to $74.50. Also effective from 1 July, the highincome threshold in unfair dismissal cases will increase to$153,600 and the compensation limit will be $76,800 for dismissalsoccurring on or after 1 July 2020. More...
FWC: 18 modern awards extensively variedThe Fair Work Commission is extensively varying existingawards as a result of the 4 yearly review of modern awards. Themodern awards will be varied in 3 tranches during 2020. The variedawards were published in advance and commenced operation, 18 June2020 (18 June 2020). More...
FWC: Jobkeeper disputes benchbook updatedThe benchbook has been prepared by the Commission toassist parties who are lodging or responding to jobkeeper disputeapplications under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The updated Jobkeeper disputes benchbook is now available (15 June 2020).More...
FWC: General protections benchbookupdatedThe updated version reflects recent changes to the PrivacyAct 1988 to include workplace rights that are intended to protectemployees and others from disadvantage or other adverseconsequences if they decide not to download or use the COVIDSafeapp. View the online version here General protections benchbook (01 June 2020). More...
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner vCoreStaff WA Pty Ltd  FCA 893INDUSTRIAL LAW - adverse action - discrimination forreason of age - where recruitment company refused application foremployment because person applying was 70 years old - whereposition was for grader operator on assignment in the Pilbararegion of Western Australia - whether client or recruitment companywas prospective employer - where client expressed concern aboutperson's age - where independent assessment of age undertakenby decision-maker - whether age was a substantial and operativefactor in decision-maker's reasons - contravention of s 351(1)of Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) by first respondent established
Australia Education Union v Yooralla(No.2)  FCCA 1659INDUSTRIAL LAW Penalties contraventions of the Fair Work Act 2009 established whether the Court should impose pecuniary penalties against theRespondent whether the breaches arose from a single courseof conduct double jeopardy provisions considered analysis of sections 556 and 557 of the Fair Work Act 2009 the need for deterrence imposition of pecuniary penaltiesto be paid within 30 days.
Vassallo v Easitag Pty Ltd FCA 875INDUSTRIAL LAW classification of employee forthe purposes of the Electrical, Electronic and CommunicationsContracting Award 2010 and the National Electrical, Electronic andCommunications Contracting Industry Award 1998 matterpreviously arbitrated in the Fair Work Commission whetherdecisions of the Fair Work Commission and Full Bench of the FairWork Commission extinguished justiciable controversy betweenparties as to classification of the applicant employee cause of action estoppel established issue ofemployee's classification not open to be re-agitated inproceedings before the Federal Court of AustraliaFair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 570, 739
Bell v Ouyen Hotel Pty Ltd FCCA 1505INDUSTRIAL LAW Adverse action claim whether applicant resigned or accepted employer's repudiationof the contract whether applicant entitled to alleged awardunderpayments whether employer injured the applicant in heremployment because of exercise of workplace right consequences of non-provision of payslips applicant'sclaims largely established matter to be heard as toconsequential orders and relief.Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), ss.340, 341, 343, 361, 386, 536, 545;Fair Work Regulations 2009
Fair Work Ombudsman v IE Enterprises PtyLtd  FCA 848PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE application for partialdefault judgment under r 5.23 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 (Cth)against respondents failure of respondents to defendproceeding failure of respondents to attend case managementhearing failure of respondents to comply with Court orders whether Court has jurisdiction to grant relief whether applicant is entitled to reliefINDUSTRIAL LAW application for declaratory relief andcompensation orders in relation to contraventions of the Fair WorkAct 2009 (Cth) failure to pay minimum hourly rates failure to pay employees in full failure to make and keepemployee records failure to provide pay slips whether contraventions are serious contraventions as they were partof a systematic pattern of conduct whether first respondentexpressly, tacitly or impliedly authorised contraventions whether second respondent knew that first respondent'scontraventions were serious contraventionsHeld: application for partial default judgment grantedFair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 45, 323(1), 535(1), 536(1), 536(3),545(2)(b), 547(2), 550, 550(2), 557A, 557A(1), 557(5A),557B(1)Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017(Cth)
Fair Work Ombudsman v Priority Matters Pty Ltd &Anor (No.5)  FCCA 901INDUSTRIAL LAW Fair Work assessment ofpenalties for established breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)by corporations and directors as accessories.Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), ss.23, 44, 45, 90, 99, 116, 117, 119,293, 323, 328, 539, 542, 546, 550, 557, 570, 682(1) By 31 December 2020, or such other date as may be agreedbetween the parties, Priority Matters Pty Ltd pay a pecuniarypenalty of $51,000 to the Commonwealth pursuant to s.546 of theFair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Fair Work Act) for thecontraventions set out in the declarations dated 22 February2019.(2) By 31 December 2020, or such other date as may be agreedbetween the parties, Kia Silverbrook pay a pecuniary penalty of$10,200 to the Commonwealth pursuant to s.546 of the Fair Work Actfor the contraventions set out in the declarations dated 22February 2019.
Joseph v Parnell Corporate Services PtyLtd (No 2)  FCA 838INDUSTRIAL LAW termination of employmentcontract not unlawful misconduct unpaid annualleave and long service leave entitlementsCONTRACT damages for settlement of proceedings institutedoverseasPRACTICE AND PROCEDURE costsJudgment for the Applicant/Cross-Respondent against the ThirdRespondent/Third Cross-Claimant in the amount of US$141,559.90inclusive of interest to the date of judgment.
Agapitos v Colliers International(WA) Pty Ltd  FCCA 1536INDUSTRIAL LAW Practice and Procedure claims for long service leave and commissions arising fromemployment claim arises under the Fair Work Act 2009 byreason of reference to the National Employment Standards application falls within the federal jurisdiction whether aclaim that does not properly plead a federal matter can be amendedto raise a federal matter application is a civil matterarising under section 566 of the Act justiciablecontroversy encompassing potential Award breach claims application is not a bare plea claim is not colourable andmade for the improper purpose of fabricating jurisdiction claim is not trivial aspect of the controversy norequirement to issue notices to Attorneys General of the States orTerritories pursuant to s 78B of Judiciary Act 1903.
Rhodes v Firepower Pump Systems Pty Ltd trading asTerritory Fire Service & Training FCCA 1649INDUSTRIAL LAW Fair Work small claim which Award applies to an applicant who worked as a servicetechnician with respect to building fire systems Plumbingand Fire Sprinklers Award 2010 Electrical, Electronic andCommunications Contracting Award 2010 employee covered byPlumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010.INDUSTRIAL LAW Fair Work proper interpretation of'redundancy' in clause 18.2 of Plumbing and Fire SprinklersAward 2010 where 'redundancy' given a broaddefinition in Award as being 'where an employee ceases to beemployed by an employer' 'redundancy' asdefined in Award includes resignation.INDUSTRIAL LAW Fair Work over-Award payments amount due and owing for 'redundancy' payments over-Award rates for ordinary hours do not satisfyredundancy or severance payment obligations under Award.(1) The Respondent pay a total of $12,537.29 to the Applicant
Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists andManagers Australia v Bulga Underground Operations PtyLtd (No 2)  FCA812INDUSTRIAL LAW civil penalty whereemployer breached s 323 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) whether penalty should be imposedCoal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave) Administration Act 1992(Cth) ss 39AC, 39CB(2)Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 323, 323(1), 546(1), 546(3)(c),556Pursuant to s 546(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), therespondent pay a pecuniary penalty of $10,000.00.
Kiyama v Mtn Top Pty Ltd & Ors FCCA 1205INDUSTRIAL LAW Application for summaryjudgment accessorial liability whethercontravention of Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) failure to payentitlements absence of clear pleading directionsfor filing of documents provision for hearing.Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), ss.44, 45, 87(1)(a), 125(1), 325(1), 345,550(1)
Kambouridis v L.R. Reed City Pty Ltd &Anor  FCCA 1484INDUSTRIAL LAW Contravention of Fair Work Act2009 unfair dismissal penalties hearing failure to pay compensation ordered costs order sought penalties imposed.Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), ss.390, 392, 405, 539, 546, 550 and570.(1) The first respondent contravened s.405 of the Fair Work Act2009 (the Act) in failing to comply with the orderof the Fair Work Commission dated 11 October 2017.3) The first respondent pay to the applicant a penalty of $20,000pursuant to s.546(1) of the Act for its contraventions set out inparagraph 1 above.
Australian Building and Construction Commissioner vConstruction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (TheCollege Crescent Case)  FCA757INDUSTRIAL LAW pecuniary penalties agreedcontraventions adverse action application of"no ticket, no start" philosophy coercion ofsubcontractor to pay "union rates" analysis ofthe nature, gravity, character and seriousness of thecontraventions whether history of contravening conductshould inform the court's assessment of how objectively seriousthe agreed contraventions were application of "civildouble jeopardy", "course of conduct" and"totality" principles personal payment orders appropriateness of declaratory reliefBuilding and Construction Industry (ImprovingProductivity) Act 2016 (Cth) ss 5 and 15Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), s 4AACrimes Legislation Amendment (Penalty Unit) Act 2015 (Cth), item 2of sch 1Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) pts 2-4, 3-1; ss 12, 336, 342, 346, 347,348, 363, 539, 545, 546, 556 and 793Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth) s 12The first respondent pay pecuniary penalties totalling$110,000.00.The second respondent pay pecuniary penalties totalling$7,500.00.The third respondent pay a pecuniary penalty of $6,000.00.
Fair Work Ombudsman v B2D Pty Ltd &Anor  FCCA 1442INDUSTRIAL LAW Application for breaches ofcivil remedy provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 employerfailed to pay wages and provide appropriate wage slips FairWork Ombudsman issued notice to produce records of wage payments respondents produced material that is alleged to bemisleading and deceptive respondents failed to take anysteps in the proceedings proceedings undefended matters to be considered.Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), ss.3, 535, 536, 539, 545, 547, 550, 687,701, 712, 716, 718A
Ross v Paea trading as Bombora Cafe FCA 766INDUSTRIAL LAW where Applicant employed as cook byFirst Respondent where Applicant claims unpaid wages,annual leave, taxation and superannuation under Fair Work Act 2009(Cth)(the Act) whether the RestaurantIndustry Award 2010 applies to First Respondent whetherFirst Respondent is employer under s 47 of the Act whetherFirst Respondent contravened the ActSUPERANNUATION whether employee can sue employer whereemployer fails to make superannuation contributions to complyingfund nature of compulsory superannuation laws as tax inconstitutional senseBANKRUPTCY where First Respondent has filed for bankruptcyprior to Court reserving judgment whether leave granted toApplicant to proceed under s 58(3)(b) of the Bankruptcy Act 1966(Cth) where Court has already heard evidence in the case where trustee of bankrupt estate neither agrees nor objectsto leave being grantedPRACTICE AND PROCEDURE where Applicant assisted byunadmitted acquaintance who appears to have been holding himselfout as lawyer whether judgment reasons should be referredto Law Society of New South WalesConstitution ss 51(ii), 51(xx), 51(xxxi), 51(xxxvii), 55, 122Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) s 58(3)(b)Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) s 29(2)Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) ss 30H, 30N, 30L, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 61,87, 90, 539, 545Leave be granted to the Applicant to proceed against the BankruptEstate of the First Respondent.Judgment for the Applicant against the First Respondent for$17,583.26.
Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill2020Finally passed both Houses 11 June 2020 Assent Act no:53 Year: 2020 16 June 2020Amends the: Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 to implement changes tothe paid parental leave scheme to enable eligible claimants toclaim up to 30 days of parental leave pay (PLP)within 24 months of the birth or adoption of a child, in additionto 12 weeks of PLP within 12 months of the child's birth oradoption; and A New Tax System (Family Assistance)Act 1999 and A New Tax System (Family Assistance)(Administration) Act 1999 to make consequential amendments.
PaidParental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act2020 Act No. 53 of 2020 17 June 2020
Fair Work Amendment (One in, All in) Bill2020Registered 15 June 2020 Introduced HR 15 June 2020This bill extends the FWC's jurisdiction to deal with disputesabout whether an employee is eligible for the JobKeeper scheme. TheFWC cannot make an order on or after the end date of the Jobkeeperscheme which is 28 September 2020
PaidParental Leave Amendment (Coronavirus Economic Response) Rules2020This instrument amends the Paid Parental Leave Rules2010 to assist people who have been affected by the economicimpacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic tobe eligible for parental leave pay or dad and partner pay (17 June2020).
FairWork Amendment (Variation of Enterprise Agreements No. 2)Regulations 2020These regulations amend the Fair Work Regulations 2009 torepeal amendments made by the Fair Work Amendment (Variation ofEnterprise Agreements) Regulations 2020, which modified the periodthat employees must have access to a copy of a proposed variationof an enterprise agreement, and before which employees must benotified of the details of the vote on the variation (the'access period'), from seven days to one day. Thismeasure was intended to be a time-limited change to enableemployers and their employees to quickly respond to issues that mayarise in response to COVID-19 (12 June 2020).
AgedCare (Leave from Residential Care Services) (Situation ofEmergencyHuman Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential)Determination 2020This instrument declares the current COVID-19 pandemicas a situation of emergency for the purposes of subsection 42-2A(1)of the Aged Care Act 1997. Under this determination, emergencyleave will be available to permanent aged care residents acrossAustralia from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020 (2 June 2020).
Community Services Industry (Portable Long Service Leave)Bill 2019Stage reached: Passed with amendment on 17/06/2020 Assent Date: 22/06/2020 Act No: 19 of 2020Commences: see Act fordetails
Subordinate legislation reminder This regulation commences on 1 July 2020
Building and Construction Industry (Portable LongService Leave) (Levy Changes) Amendment Regulation 2020 (Qld)This Regulation is made under the Building andConstruction Industry (Portable Long ServiceLeave) Act 1991. The policy objectives is to remove thetiered levy structure which currently provides discounted levyrates to very large projects and replace it with a single levy ratefor leviable matters, and to increase the portable long serviceleave levy from 0.25 per cent to 0.35 per cent.
Building and Construction Industry (Portable Long Service Leave)(Levy Changes) Amendment Regulation 2020 (Qld)
Workers' Compensation and Rehabilitation (QOTE)Notice 2020 (Qld)12 June 2020 - This Notice is made under the Workers'Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (theAct). Compensation entitlements of injured workers anddependants of deceased workers under the Act are subject toindexation in accordance with increases in Queensland Ordinary TimeEarnings (QOTE) to ensure the relative value ofthose amounts over time. Under section 10A of the Act, theWorkers' Compensation Regulator must, before the start of afinancial year, notify QOTE for the financial year and thepercentage difference in QOTE for the financial year compared toQOTE for the previous financial year.
Wage Theft Act 2020 (Vic)Act Number: 21/2020 Date of assent: 23 June 2020
This publication does not deal with every important topic orchange in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitutefor legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader'sspecific circumstances. If you have found this publication ofinterest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advicerelevant to your circumstances please contact one of the namedindividuals listed.
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This article by Candace Cohn outlines the origins and problems of privilege theory. Cohn was an activist and revolutionary socialist in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s and one of the first women accepted into the carpenters union.She became a labour and civil rights lawyer in the 1980s. The article was first published in Socialist Worker in 2015.
The privilege model of oppression, often encountered in todays liberal and radical circles, has evolved since the 1960s. Many of todays well-intentioned advocates are unaware of the theorys class roots roots that continue to profoundly impact privilege politics today.
At the height of the American civil rights movement, when theories of oppression might be expected to have some resonance, privilege politics were virtually unknown. The privilege model was unable to find a foothold among the hundreds of thousands of anti-racists involved in the countrys massive and often integrated struggles for freedom. Only later, during the tragic crisis and disintegration of the New Left at the end of the 1960s, were privilege politics able to gain a hearing among white, middle-class students, most of whom had had no involvement in the civil rights movement. White-skin privilege theory would come to play amajor role in the destruction of Students for a Democratic Society(SDS) by extreme sectarians.
The roots of privilege theory extend deep into the factional political atmosphere of early American Maoism. The specific use of white-skin privilege concepts, which date back to US slavery, to analyse oppression began in one tiny section of the Stalinist left, the obscure Provisional Organizing Committee to Reconstitute the Marxist Leninist Party, a 1958 split from the Communist Party. The Provisional Organizing Committees split was based on two fundamental policies: defence against all criticism of Stalins anti-working-class oppression, and establishment of a separate Black republic in the South as the answer to American racism. These two views formed the political context in which white-skin privilege theory developed.
Two long-time members of the Provisional Organizing Committee, Noel Ignatin and Ted Allen, would become known fortheir 1967 pamphletWhite Blindspot, presenting the arguments for white-skin privilege theory:
The US ruling class has made a deal with the mis-leaders of American labor, andthrough them with the masses of white workers. The terms...are these: you white workers help us conquer the world and enslave the non-white majority of the earths laboring force, and we will repay you with...the...privileges befitting your white skin [citing various examples of greater access to jobs, health care, education,etc.]. [Note: all emphasis within all quotations in this article appear in the original sources.]
An opportunistic contract resulted, according to Ignatin, between the exploiters and a part of the exploited,at the expense of the rest of the exploited. White workers were co-conspirators with their bosses in depriving Blacks and people of the Third World of their rights. The only way possible for white workers to fight against white supremacy was byrepudiatingtheir white-skin privileges. White workers might have a world to win.But they have more to lose than their chains; they have also to lose their white-skin privileges, the perquisites that separate them from the rest of the working class, that act as the material base for the split in the ranks of labor.
The term privileges was used to describe measures, such as relatively decent schools and medical care, to which whites received greater access. The problem with this conception is that these measures, rather than representing undeserved privileges, were in fact reforms won by the working class through bitter struggle. These class gains represented the return of a small part of the great wealth held by capitalists that workers had produced. Privilege theory on the basis of unequal access to these gains under racist American capitalism converted hard-won class victories, reforms and rights into undeserved workers privileges.
The privilege model, moreover, was producing radicals who tried to convince American workers that they were getting more than their fair share, and that they should give up their already inadequate lifestyles, possessions and class gains. It was manna from heaven for the ruling class.
The Revolutionary Youth Movement and Students for a Democratic Society
In the late 1960s, a number of sectarian political groups were vying for control of Students for a Democratic Society, the largest radical organisation of the 1960s, which had grown to mass proportions during the anti-war movement, and which identified itself as socialist. The 100,000-strong, multi-tendency organisation of the New Left had played a decisive role in the national student revolt and mass radicalisation of the 1960s.White Blindspotspecifically addressed one of the sects vying for control of SDS, Progressive Labor (PL), a Stalinist-Maoist group that subordinated questions of national oppression and liberation to its narrow views of the class struggle.
The largest groups in SDS vying for control against PL were both from the Stalinist-Maoist Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM). RYMI (the Weathermen) and RYMII (Bob Avakians Revolutionary Union and other Maoists) counterposed questions of Black and Third World oppression to the American class struggle. In 1969, RYMI and RYMII banded together and, in a document co-authored by Ignatin, adopted white-skin privilege, using it to wage a highly divisive faction fight against PL. In the process,they destroyed SDS, and replaced the mass, radical, national New Left student organisation with a series of Maoist sects, each proclaiming itself to be the true revolutionary vanguard. Revolutionary party organisation was discredited within the broad left for generations.
As an ideological weapon, privilege theory reflected RYMs middle-class student composition, its isolation from the class struggle, and its Stalinist-Maoist worldview including alienation from, and elitist distrust of, the working class. RYM rejected the need for American workers to organise around their own needs and their own oppression. It viewed the primary struggle in the world, to which all other struggles must be subordinated, as that between the revolutionary Third World and US imperialism. RYM saw American workers as little more than potential cheerleaders for Third World liberation struggles, cheerleaders who must renounce their imperialist privileges that is, their wages, benefits and possessions:
It is the oppressed peoples who have created the wealth of this empire and it is to them that it belongs; the goal of the revolutionary struggle must be the control and use of this wealth in the interests of the oppressed peoples of the world ... your television set, car and wardrobe already belong, to a large degree, to the people of the rest of the world. (Joint RYM document,quoted here.)
In the midst of the great multiracial working-class revolt of the 1960s and 1970s, the Stalinist-Maoist ideas on privilege patently offered a poor guide to labour action. The theorys strategic focus was on points of division among workers, the pitting of workers against one another in competition for privileges, and the programmatic prescription for worker renunciation and self-dispossession all of which made it impossible for any of the Maoist sects, despite their relatively large numbers, to develop working-class roots in the rank-and-file labour upsurge. In addition, the opposition of privilege proponents to American workers fighting for their own class interests contributed to maintaining the countrys status quo, with its racism.
Other contradictions pervaded RYMs privilege analysis. RYM argued that the same workers who should not, in its vision, fight against their own oppression should, and would, fight against the oppression of others a utopian view of the class struggle based on moralism. Privilege theory deemed everyone privileged unless they were at the very bottom. If anyone was more oppressed than you no matter how oppressed you were you were privileged. If you were not the most oppressed, it was assumed you had a community of interest with the oppressors to oppress people more oppressed than you and therefore you could not be trusted to engage in joint struggles against oppression. The logic of white-skin privilege theory led to some whites demanding that Blacks give uptheirprivileges. Since Black workers in US auto, steel, trucking and similar industries made union scale, with wages comparable to those of whites, some privilege proponents concluded that Blacks in the US were privileged by imperialism, and must relinquish their privileges too. Faced with the enormous Black uprising of the time, most of the theorys supporters declined to go that far.
Behind these contradictions and strategic cul-de-sacs lay fundamental gaps in privilege theorys foundations. Its core conceptions of workers class interest, worker culpability, institutional racism, the union bureaucracy, the nature of capitalism, the nature of exploitation, the nature of imperialism, the class struggle were, as we shall see, totally flawed.
In the RYM theory of imperialism, exploitation did not occur in capitalist America. As RYM put it, it is the oppressed peoples [of the rest of the world] who have created the wealth of this empire. Wealth was created offshore, in the Third World not by the American working class. This fatal blind spot pervaded the RYM theory of oppression and privilege. Unable to recognise the exploitation of all American workers, including whites and men, white-skin privilege theory remained blind to exploitation as the central dynamic of both capitalism and the class struggle against it.
Blind to exploitation, privilege analysis rested on a quartet of misconceptions: that white workers and Black workers possess directly opposed and competing material interests; that white workers share common material interests with their white bosses; that racism serves the material interests of white workers; that white workers are co-creators with the capitalist class of institutional racism, and are co-responsible for it.
These conceptions are not only false. They echo the divisive propaganda of the capitalist class. Even if sections of the working and middle class buy into them, these ideas remain bourgeois ideology that serve the ruling class. The left must be able to recognise them as such.
The divide-and-conquer soul of racism serves the material interests of one class only: the capitalists. In the words of the great abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, They divided both in order to conquer each. Racisms utility to capitalism is that it enables the obscenely unjust and unequal economic system to exist. As Malcolm X put it, You cant have capitalism without racism. By serving as a block against all workers uniting together to enforce their rightful, collective claim toallthe wealth they create, including that vast portion stolen and accumulated by the ruling class, racism sabotages the one force a united working class that can destroy capitalism and racism with it.
Marxists have fought historically for the principle, and reality, that unity and solidarity in struggle mean specifically a working-class movement that champions the just demands of Black workers against racism. Unity, for Marxists, means unequivocal class solidarity with the struggles of all the oppressed. Among the many examples of this kind of unity is the 1970s rank-and-file United Action Caucus in the United Auto Workers, in which white skilled trades workers and Black assembly line workers united to fight for an anti-racist platform that demanded the opening of the skilled trades to Blacks. Building that kind of solidarity required an approach opposite to privilege theorys focus on competing privileges, interests and differences. It required focusing instead on unified goals, fighting for better conditions for both Black and white workers, and on fighting against all racism together.
In arguing, by contrast, that racismserveswhite workers material interests, privilege theory fails to grasp that in class warfare, capitals most powerful weapon (racism) against workers most powerful weapon (unity) cannot possibly serve workers material interests.
Class responsibility for racism
Not only was privilege theory wrong in arguing that racism served white workers material interests, it was equally off-base in claiming that white workers, including racist ones, had co-created systemic racism under capitalism. Although no support was offered for this verdict, it seemed to rest on three grounds.
First, privilege theory assumed, without data or discussion, that white workers were responsible for the sellouts of their union officials. Blaming rank-and-file workers for the corrupt, anti-democratic, pro-business, racist betrayals of the labour bureaucracy is similar to blaming the American people for the racist imperialist wars and foreign policies of the US ruling class.
Second, the privilege model apparently held white workers responsible because they were white on the basis of guilt-by-identity. Only white and not Black, Latino, or any other workers were held responsible for the actions of the union bureaucracy and of American imperialism.
Third, white workers were blamed for systemic racism because their privileges came, purportedly,at the expense ofBlacks: white workers got morebecauseBlacks got less, andvice versa. This assumption bought into the liberal capitalist idea that the size of the share of the economic pie available to workers is fixed and highly limited, and that different sub-groups of workers must fightagainst each otherto expand their shares. Privilege theory focused on workers battling each other for the same shares, rather than on theirfighting togetherfor a just division of the share appropriated by thebosses that fight, in the form of shop floor and union struggles for class demands, was explicitly opposed.
Furthermore, the privilege theory of causation Black workers get less because white workers get more, and its corollary flies in the face of American reality. Historically, wages, benefits and working conditions have always been significantly lower for working-class whites in the non-unionised South than for Black (and white) workers in unionised areas of the North. The higher union standard of living results not from racial privilege, but from the unity and solidarity of both Black and white workers in class struggle.
Institutional racism; strategy
The privilege model locates much of the cause of oppression in competition between workers and individuals. It holds, for example, that Black applicants, regardless of qualifications, dont get hired because white ones do. Marxism rejects the idea that Black workers are refused at the door because fellow white workers exercise the privilege of earning a living. Marxism instead maintains that the capitalists organise production and the labour market. They bosses pick and divide workers, both as a function of their own racism, and as a strategy to divide Black, white, Latino, Asian and other workers against each other. When a white applicant gets a job over Black applicants, its not because s/he exercised a privilege, but because discrimination is built into capitalist employment practices. (Note that the practice known as job trusts, in which white workers controlled admission to some skilled trades jobs, restricting them to family members and friends, discriminating against Blacks and other whites, was a relatively small exception to the general rule that the capitalists control hiring and firing.)
In holding white workers co-responsible for systemic racism, the privilege model attributed a power to white workers they manifestly do not have: control over the institutions of American capitalism schools, jobs, housing, factories, banks, police, courts, prisons, legislatures, media, elections, universities, armed services, hospitals, sports, political parties all of which function in a racist manner. These institutions are owned and controlled by the capitalist class. They engineer, manage and enforce the social, economic and political racism that serves the social relations of American capitalism. It is these institutions that make racism such a powerful and inescapable part of American daily life.
The successful operation of racism under capitalism, like capitalism itself, requires that sections of the working class be convinced of racist ideas. One function, therefore, of bourgeois institutions is to cultivate racism among workers. A crucial part of the struggle against racism is fighting the false consciousness by which many workers accept, against their own material class interests, racism and other aspects of ruling class ideology. The battle to win such workers over on a class struggle basis is directly undermined by the privilege argument that they share common material interests with their bosses.
Because the purpose of Marxism is change in the real world, and because action and strategy flow from the understanding theory brings, our theory about the cause of racism and oppression under capitalism needs to be correct. Attribution ofrootcausation to either individual or institutional sources, to workers or the ruling class, will determine strategy.
Privilege theorys focus on assumptions of worker and personal complicity leads to a strategy of combating racism and oppression throughindividualevolution: self-renunciation, engaging in consciousness-raising discussions, developing deeper understandings of our different experiences, and attempting to change the operation of privilege in interpersonal dynamics. The contrasting Marxist view that American racism, oppression and exploitation are an entrenched, institutionalised totality, which cannot be destroyed unless confronted at the root systemic level by social forces in struggle leads to building social movements and class struggles in the real world.
Ignatin, Allen, and RYM first proposed their strategy of worker self-renunciation at the height of the golden age post-war boom. Even then, it was absurd for radicals to expect to build a workers movement for a better world by telling workers they must give up their privileges their jobs, homes, pay scales and, as RYM put it, television sets, cars and wardrobes. Today, in the age of recurrent domestic and international economic crises, a left prescription for workers self-dispossession of privileges echoing neoliberal calls for working-class sacrifice and austerity is even more difficult to understand. Since the 1970s, white male workers with no more than a high school education have seen their wages drop by a third. Yet elitist, well-off, liberal academics who propagate privilege politics in the universities continue to argue that it is all whites and all men, including all white workers and all male workers, who are privileged who, compared to others, have it too good.
A similar sentiment spread among a section of the radical student movement of the early 1960s, which began rejecting the working class as an agent for social change on grounds that it had sold out, because its inadequate standard of living was deemed too high. This conservative view prepared the ground in the student New Left for the anti-working-class privilege politics that would destroy it a decade later.
For decades since, the views that workers are bought off and/or privileged have contributed to the passivity of the middle-class liberal left in the face of the neoliberal attack on workers living standards and unions.
The privilege circuit
Contemporary privilege concepts have changed since the days ofWhite Blindspotand RYM. In the decades following the 1970s demise of the left, privilege theory underwent several iterations beginning with its entry into academia in the 1980s and 1990s, and then into the new millenniums cyberspace, social media, political formations and press. But however modified todays version of privilege theory may be, and however unaware of its history its current advocates may be, contemporary privilege politics remain profoundly influenced by their Stalinist-Maoist theoretical origins. Early practices have their impact too: American and international Maoists engaged, for example, in a forerunner to privilege-checking in what were called criticism-self-criticism sessions. (At the time, these sessions were a feature of Chinese internal repressive mechanisms to control the population.)
Modern privilege theory reflects the lack of class politics that has come to characterise the country and the left, despite increased popular awareness of the role of the ultra-wealthy. Neoliberalism, since crushing the left, working-class and social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, has largely succeeded in writing classes (the working class in particular), class politics and class struggle out of popular consciousness and public dialogue. In accepting and perpetuating this vacuum of class politics, the contemporary privilege model implicitly accepts the class assumptions of American capitalist society.
Some may argue that the focus onnon-materialprivileges by much of todays discussion represents a disconnect from the early demand for self-renunciation of material privileges. But the model operates much the same way in both material and non-material contexts, and reaches similar conclusions. Early privilege theory converted material reforms won through class struggle into undeserved privileges. In similar fashion, todays model also converts non-material rights, and the non-experience of a particular kind of oppression, into unearned, undeserved privileges. Contemporary analysis of non-material so-called privileges continues to hold, just as original white-skin privilege theory did, that those who are not oppressed in a particular way can be assumed to be participants in that oppression. The false presumption of guilt-by-identity today masks ignorance of, if not indifference to, the responsibility of ruling class institutions for racism and oppression.
The destructive and divisive atmosphere often found in todays privilege-checking culture reflects both the toxic sectarian factionalism of the theorys originators, and the light years we have travelled from the civil rights and Black Power movements. Then, white radicals in this country routinely participated in and helped organise demonstrations and activities in support of anti-racist causes and campaigns the victorious Free Huey [Newton] campaign (involving the Black Panthers shoot-out with the police), an internationalcause clbre, being one example. Then, Black and white militants joined forces in the interests of necessity and revolutionary unity. In todays left, by contrast, white activists may excuse themselves, or be discouraged, from joining and organising anti-racist protests, on the privilege basis that they cannot possibly understand the Black experience of oppression and should not act like they do.
Whereas in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the raised fist Black and white expressed political, anti-racist, class solidarity for a generation, todays popular symbols of anti-racist resistance (hands raised in the Dont Shoot stance, hoodies, and I am Trayvon Martin signs) are sometimes argued by privilege advocates to be inappropriate for whites. In what would have been anathema to anti-racist movements of the past, some privilege advocates call upon whites to identifyas whites as part of a community with racists instead of identifying themselves as anti-racist fighters.
In the 1960s and 1970s, to be sure, there were radicals who tried, at times successfully, to split the left on the basis of their particular oppression. With the fragmentation of the mass movement, separatist elements, in both the Black and womens movements, developed. There were also nationalist groups within the Black movement that refused to have anything to do with whites. These were a stark contrast to the Black Panther Party, which considered many of the Black nationalist currents to be bourgeois cultural nationalists. The Panthers, by contrast, identified themselves as revolutionary nationalists, came out for gay liberation, stood for Black Power and socialism, and were identified by their slogan, Power to the people a slogan with as much relevance today as then. Their alliances and joint struggles with whites included their rank-and-file autoworkers caucus in Fremont, California, the Black Panther Party Caucus, which included Hispanic, Asian, Black and white workers. Unfortunately, the political complexity of various nationalist and separatist currents of the time, and their relationship to contemporary debates about oppression, is too extensive to fall within the scope of this article.
Privilege theorys original focus on white-skin privilege has since expanded, developing views on oppression and privilege in a variety of contexts, including gender and sexual orientation, among others. The variations, however, still reflect common historical, theoretical and political roots. These shared roots include a lack of unequivocal solidarity with those whose oppression is deemed less than, or different from, ones own.
Many of todays supporters of the privilege framework are motivated by the best intentions, believing that privilege theory, by creating greater sensitivity, will produce better fighters against oppression. But the theorys track record throws a dark shadow over well-intentioned hopes for change. While privilege politics have led to interpersonal struggle, and even at times the birth of radical groups, they have proved incapable of providing or building the solidarity necessary for significant victories and social change.
The politics of privilege have come full circle. The privilege ideology circuit began among Stalinists, who brought privilege politics into the middle-class student movement, with common prejudices against workers, as part of the orgy of self-destruction of the New Left in the late 1960s. Ex-student radicals then carried privilege theory into the universities. There, it was perceived to be part of the legacy of the left, and was accepted by liberals as a way to oppose racism that required no action in the real world. Privilege theory became the dominant discourse of many departments and university administrations, evolving and moving to the right (dropping, for example, both anti-imperialism and talk of revolution), as it accommodated the rightward shift and drift in American political and intellectual life. Today, newly radicalised students, completing the circuit, have brought privilege politics back from the conservative, neoliberal universities into the radical movement again.
Class, independent self-organisation and revolution
The privilege model is often defended on the basis that we all must strive to understand the nature and experience of all oppression. That argument is more than undeniably and unconditionally true it is crucial. The question, however, cannot end there. The central premises of early privilege theory were profoundly anti-working class. It should come as no surprise that the current model continues to reflect, in updated form, divisive and anti-working-class biases of its progenitors. The left must examine, analyse and acknowledge these class biases and their impact.
Independent activity and organisation from below by oppressed groups is critical, and the Civil Rights, Black Power, Womens Liberation, and other movements of the 1960s were able to win significant gains. But they could not end racism, sexism or oppression. Much work remains. New movements, of which recent developments like Black Lives Matter, Young, Gifted and Black, and various local independent Black youth groups are hopeful signs, will rise and grow and also win significant gains. But, as in the 1960s, these new movements will remain unable to end oppression until they are able to dismantle the capitalist social system, whose institutions all function in a racist manner. The struggle to fundamentally transform class society with all the injustices, inequalities and obscenities it is built upon cannot succeed without a united, mass movement that is both revolutionary and working class, dedicated to replacing capitalism with socialism from below, capable of wresting economic and state power from the ruling class.
We have a long way to go in building such a workers movement. But a left that does not eschew all anti-working-class politics cannot get there. In recent years, popular and working-class resistance to austerity and to the long neoliberal assault has again appeared on the domestic and international stage. Resistance to oppression and to neoliberalism is creating the potential for building multiracial struggles that champion the fight against all oppression, and that form the basis for building a united working-class movement.
A left that wishes to be relevant to these openings must while aggressively fighting all forms of oppression also actively combat all forms of anti-working-class politics, under whatever guise they arise. If American radicals choose to accept or tolerate rather than actively combat the prevalent anti-working-class baggage of privilege politics, todays left will face a series of tragic, self-inflicted, defeats. The American left must recognise that the coming revolution to end all exploitation and oppression will be a working-class revolution, or there will be no revolution.
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According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in 2017, 40.1 million people worldwide worked on fishing vessels. These men and women are sometimes forcibly conscripted onto boats where their most basic rights are violated. Faced with this unacceptable situation, several associations and trade unions are pushing for the international community to better regulate the rapidly evolving industry.
Supreyanto was 47 years old. An Indonesian national, he worked on a Taiwanese vessel fishing tuna, a job which often requires several days of work without rest. It was a job for which Supreyanto gave his life. In 2015, after four months spent at sea, the fisher died on a boat that was employing him in what the captain and several sailors described as an accident. In reality, it was a murder.
Supreyanto suffered many abuses aboard the Taiwanese vessel, including humiliation and beatings. His story, all too common in the fishing industry, came to light thanks to the work of Allison Lee, founder of the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union. Created in 2014, it is Taiwans first union dedicated to defending the rights of foreign sailors employed in the country.
For years, she has fought to protect these often-exploited workers. Its hard to know whats going on aboard the boats, she tells Equal Times.
Most of the time we have nothing but our suspicions. The sailors who die often disappear into the ocean.
As the economic stakes of the fishing industry continue to rise, stories like Supreyantos are increasingly commonplace on the worlds seas.
The fishing industry is one of the most dangerous and violent in the world. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 20,000 to 30,000 seafarers disappear every year while at sea. I think its due to the nature of the work, Kimberly Rogovin, senior seafood campaign coordinator at the International Labour Rights Forum (ILRF), tells Equal Times. On the boats, you dont have access to the most basic medical care.
According to Rogovin, fishing vessels are also under enormous economic pressure to reduce costs, so they hire the least trained and cheapest workers. This is particularly true in the countries of Asia, which are home to 75 per cent of the worlds active fishing vessels. The fishing industry in these countries relies on migrant workers from countries where employment is scarce who are willing to work for starvation wages.
In the Taiwanese fishing industry, which specialises in tuna, its mainly Indonesian and Filipino workers who work on the boats. In Thailand its workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. They catch all types of fish, both inside and outside of exclusive economic zones (EEZ) [editors note: areas within 200 nautical miles of a countrys coast where it is allowed to explore and use marine resources]. They are the ones that suffer the worst abuses. The same goes for workers in South Korea, explains Rogovin.
Over the years, associations have documented abuses in the industry. I think there are examples of abuse on many boats throughout the world. But this phenomenon has become extreme in recent years and certain regions are more affected than others, Thailand, for example, Steve Trent, founder and president of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), tells Equal Times. According to a United Nations report, 59 per cent of migrant workers employed on Thai boats have witnessed the killing of another sailor.
The entire system is designed to keep sailors dependent on the boats they are on. They cant leave or demand that their rights be respected. In this respect, working on a boat can be similar to slavery, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watchs Asia division, tells Equal Times. Indeed, many of the migrant workers employed on fishing vessels incur significant debt well before going out to sea.
Recruitment agencies seek out the poorest workers they can find, offering them contracts and the possibility of work abroad. Documents are signed in exchange for a large sum of money and before they know it, workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia find themselves working on fishing vessels in deplorable conditions where they are forced to work for years to pay off their debts. The United Nations has called this practice a form of modern slavery.
Moreover, as Robertson explains: Deep-sea fishing operations are conducted outside of all national labour laws, and in fact outside of any law at all, since regulations on work at sea are almost non-existent. While fishing activities are regulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in reality it is little respected.
In 2007, after two years of negotiations, the ILO adopted a new convention (Convention 188) aimed at ensuring decent working conditions for fishers aboard fishing vessels, specifically with regard to conditions of service, accommodation and food, occupational safety and health protection.
But the document lacks a base of support as no Asian country except for Thailand has agreed to sign it.
Moreover, the vastness of the worlds oceans and seas makes it difficult to carry out checks, which makes it difficult to ensure that conventions are being properly applied, even more so when the vessels employing exploited workers are ghost ships engaged in illegal fishing.
International institutions refer to fishing activities that take place outside of any international monitoring as IUU fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing). This practice accounts for 20 to 30 per cent of activities in the sector, the equivalent of US$10 to US$20 million a year, according to the FAO. Many people are trying to regulate IUU fishing because they cant profit from it, says Rogovin.
However, the fight against illegal fishing and for better regulation of the oceans cannot be separated from the fight against forced labour. Climate change and overfishing are making it harder to catch fish close to the shore, says HRWs Robertson. When fishing vessels become fleets fishing on the high seas, the abuses against workers intensify and worsen significantly. Furthermore, as he explains, IUU fishing over long periods of time is really only possible if you have forcibly detained crews working indefinitely in horrible conditions.
Migrant workers are treated like disposable resources while vessel owners have only one objective: catching as many fish as possible to make the biggest profits.
This has become increasingly difficult due to the overfishing of the oceans. One in three species of fish is now overfished, Pearl Peiyu Chen, who works for Greenpeace in Asia, tells Equal Times. The boats have to travel farther and farther out into the ocean and stay at sea for longer periods of time to find the resources that they need.
Commercial fishing is part of a global chain and there is enormous pressure from buyers, whether its larger retailers like Walmart, Tesco or Carrefour, or distributors who buy seafood products, like Nestl, explains Rogovin. This enormous pressure on the industry to keep production costs low forces the boats to save money so they can continue to sell their fish.
Greenpeace points in particular to the involvement of industry giants in forced labour. Last March, the association revealed disturbing testimonies from sailors employed on two vessels linked to Fong Chong Formosa (FCF), one of the largest tuna traders in Tawain, which sells its products on Japanese, American and European markets. While Asian countries are particularly implicated in forced labour, the EJF has also documented cases of forced labour on British and Irish boats, as well as US-flagged vessels based in Hawaii.
However, solutions exist for putting an end to these degrading practices for workers around the world. Trent believes that there is a range of easily accessible and economically viable tools that could be put in place. For example, when you look out the window, wherever you are in the world, and see cars going by, they have license plates. This prevents serious problems. At sea, many fishing vessels dont have identification numbers. Were advocating for the introduction of license plates from the moment the vessels are built to the moment they are destroyed.
Another proposed solution is the installation of tracking systems and cameras on board ships. Associations are also calling for an end to transhipment at sea. The practice is simple: in order to avoid fishing vessels making too many return trips between the coast and the high sea, other vessels come to collect the fish caught and bring the goods back to port. This practice allows vessels to stay at sea without having to interrupt their fishing activities, but it is also often associated with forced labour a situation which has worsened with the coronavirus which has left tens of thousands of fishers and other seafarers stuck at sea due to containment measures. . However, the worlds countries are increasingly regulating transhipment as it is often associated with IUU fishing.
Faced with international pressure, but also with intergovernmental logistical and financial support, several countries have taken additional steps to improve working conditions on fishing vessels. Thailand, which has been particularly singled out for criticism in recent years, has been trying to better regulate its industry since 2015. Thanks in particular to improved working conditions on its vessels and an investment of more than 1.75 million bahts (US$56,700) to modernise fishing equipment, the country has successfully reduced the need for labour on Thai-flagged vessels by 37 per cent, thus lowering production costs while improving working conditions and wages for foreign workers.
The European Union also lifted the yellow card it had given to Taiwan in 2015 after significant improvements made over the last three and a half years to tracking and regulation of its fishing vessels.
International conventions appear to be bearing fruit. In 2018, the Taiwanese-flagged Fuh Sheng No.11 became the first vessel detained under the provisions of the ILOs Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188) after an inspection revealed cases of forced labour on board.
But governments are not the only actors capable of fighting against forced labour on fishing vessels. Several trade unions have been formed over the last few years to defend the rights of migrant fishers. These organisations are indispensable in the fight against these practices. In addition to the role of information and prevention they play with the workers they are able to reach, they have also played a major role in recent years in denouncing ship owners who fail to respect the most basic human rights.
One such organisation, the Fishers Rights Network (FRN), was launched in Songkhla, one of Thailands largest ports, in 2017. Since then, the union has been distributing first aid kits to fishers and has helped several of them to claim unpaid wages. Its actions have forced the government to raise the minimum wage for fishers. In January 2017, the Migrant Workers Rights Network (MWRN), also based in Thailand but working on behalf of workers from Myanmar, assisted more than 2,000 migrant workers in submitting a collective labour demand to their employer.
These worldwide struggles cannot be successful without the mobilisation of all of the actors in the channels of consumption, all the way to consumers.
Consumers need to ask questions in their supermarkets or in restaurants to ensure that seafood products are produced using sustainable practices that respect labour and human rights, explains Robertson.
For Trent, a better political vision, greater control by retailers of where their products come from and consumer mobilisation could make a difference. The challenges are immense, theres no doubt about it. But we have solutions at our disposal. The EJF founder is calling for global action to be taken: The seas and oceans cover more than 70 per cent of our planet and have no borders. These problems cannot be solved individually. If we dont work together, we will fail, he says.
This is a major challenge for the thousands of migrant workers who are abused by their captains on the worlds oceans every day. Climate change and dwindling fish resources combined with growing demand are making this issue increasingly urgent. According to the FAO, global per capita fish consumption in 2016 was more than 20 kilograms a year, double what it was 50 years ago.
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