|Subject: Workers Online: ACTU takes up case
of ETese CARE workers
Workers Online 07 April 2000
Free East Timor? For the Workers, It's Just Cheap
The ACTU has taken up the case of East Timorese workers being employed
by international aid agencies including CARE Australia for just 40 cents
ACTU Secretary Greg Combet has formally asked CARE Australia to review
its labour relations with East Timorese workers and enter talks to set
decent pay and conditions.
The intervention follows complaints at the low rates of pay and lack of
conditions for East Timorese working for aid agencies in the newly
independent territory and the refusal of agencies to enter into meaningful
negotiations on the industrial relations issues.
They are being employed under the following conditions: 10 hours a day,
7 days a week, no pay if ill, half an hour for lunch, no injury
compensation, no drinking water provided, no transport to and from work,
and no contracts, all for $A4 a day.
The ACTU chief has written to CARE Australia acting chief executive
Robert Yallop arguing that as the relief effort moves from crisis to
reconstruction attention should be given to
Currently East Timorese staff employed by Care Australia/Care Canada
are attempting to negotiate a set of wages and working conditions more
aligned to the core labour standards and more in keeping with the UN
Secretary General's nine human rights principles as expressed in his
"As reported to us Care Australia/Care Canada is refusing either
to take the workers claims seriously or to enter into meaningful
negotiations," Combet says in the letter.
"We mention Care Canada in this regard as we understand that it is
Care Canada which is the lead agency for Care's activities in East Timor.
To that end we will be in touch with the Canadian Labour Congress (the
equivalent of the ACTU asking them to also raise this issue with Care
Combet has asked CARE to provide a copy of the guidelines/policy which
governs the employment, including wages and working conditions- hours of
work; policies related to illness, injury and compensation; occupational
health and safety as well as training and skills transfer, of your East
He has also asked for information on Care Australia's policies with
regard to trade unions and in particular ILO Conventions 87 (Freedom of
Association of the Right to Organise) and 98 (Right to Organise and
Collective Bargaining Convention).
And he has called on Care Australia/Care Canada to take immediate steps
to enter into realistic and meaningful negotiations with their East
Timorese staff, and that such negotiations be carried out, both in the
spirit and the letter of the ILO's core labour standards and the UN
Secretary General's nine principles.
"Neither the ILO or the ACTU as one of the social partners of the
ILO would find it acceptable if organisations - UN, private companies, or
NGOs - were employing workers under such conditions."
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Human Rights Violations in East Timor
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