The Guardian • Issue #2061


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2061

Activists descended on the offices and facilities of global weapons giant Thales last week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Biak massacre in West Papua. Wage Peace kicked off an international string of actions occupying Thales offices in Sydney and Melbourne simultaneously. Later in the day, manufacturing facilities in Bendigo and another office in Darwin were disrupted, with Wage Peace claiming responsibility for all four actions. Memorial ceremonies and political demonstrations were also held in Jakarta, Sorong, Jayapura, London, Delft, and in the province of Biak itself. Within Indonesia, people can and have been charged with treason for simply raising the West Papuan flag. Lilli Barto, one of the activists who carried out an occupation of the Thales office in Sydney said, “We take these actions in solidarity with the people of West Papua, who are risking their liberty and their lives today to bring their story to the world.” Barto added that Thales board members “know that their weapons will be used to commit genocide, but they would rather make a quick buck than face up to the reality of that.” “If they are upset that we are occupying their office” she continued, “then they might want to think about how the West Papuan people’s feel about Indonesia occupying their homelands.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: All those companies with unsafe work places. On 6th July the South Australian Labor government introduced industrial manslaughter legislation to ensure that if you kill a worker, you go to jail. Under the Work Health and Safety (Industrial Manslaughter) Amendment Bill, if a business is found to have been grossly negligent or recklessly cut corners on safety and a worker dies on the job, the individual responsible faces up to 20 years imprisonment and a corporation faces $18 million in fines. “Every month a South Australian worker loses their life on the job and for some firms, it’s become their business model to cut corners on safety, because even if caught, it costs a lot less than just making their workplaces safe in the first place.” said Dale Beasley, SA Unions Secretary. “Unions have been loudly fighting to change this, and we’re glad to see this government show leadership where the previous Liberal government refused to act. The threat of a prison sentence is important, because even a fine of $18 million could be seen as little more than a speeding fine on a multi-billion-dollar project. Workers and their families need to know that their lives are more than just a line on a balance sheet,” he added. The Maritime Union of Australia’s South Australia Branch Secretary, Brett Larkin, welcomed the development and explained that workers in waterfront and seafaring industries who face special risks and dangers at work will be especially relieved to see action being taken. “Kill a worker, Go to jail. We need laws like this to help prevent bad decisions from rogue employers where there is more at stake for them than just a financial risk which they can incorporate into their bottom line,” Larkin said. “We hope this law is supported and works as a preventative measure to hold bosses to account and improve safe systems of work. If the new laws are never needed because workers are safer at work than before, then the reforms will have been a success.”

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