Garma 2012: Resource development and Indigenous workers’ rights
The relationship between Indigenous communities and mining companies is a great step forward; but there are many issues to be resolved to ensure Indigenous workers get a fair share of the mining boom, CFMEU National Secretary Michael O’Connor told Garma 2012, a two-day discussion about the Resources Industry and Indigenous Economic Development on September 1 & 2, commissioned by the Gumatj clan group within the Yolngu people.
‘We’re proud that we’re a union that has a history of struggle on rights for Indigenous people,” Mr O’Connor said.
The CFMEU supports the better relationship between some mining companies and Indigenous communities now. But the challenge remains to create sustainable jobs for Indigenous workers and all Australians, with career paths and a future as an outcome of the boom.
Refuting claims that the boom was over, Mr O’Connor said “those outcomes will be determined by all of us exercising our rights as Indigenous communities and workers”.
All of this needs discussion and dialogue going forward.
The CFMEU leader reminded Garma 2012 of the importance of union membership for securing those benefits.
“Most people may not realise this, but most union jobs are paid better; most union jobs are safer jobs, most union jobs are more productive. That’s what the stats prove.
“Goodwill is important, but what’s more important is having rights, exercising those rights and being respected for having those rights.
“I think as we go forward as a community, we should go forward with great dialogue, great understanding. But I don’t think we should be naïve either about what goes on in the real world,” Mr O’Connor said.
- Listen to the full discussion. Garma 2012
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