Subject: ABC: Australian union official arrested during industrial row
Also: AGE: Row erupts as UN police jail Australian unionist
EAST TIMOR: Australian union official arrested during industrial row
ABC, 8 October
A bitter industrial dispute in East Timor has taken a turn for the
worse, with the arrest of an Australian trade union official by United
Nations police. The official was taking part in a protest at Dili Airport
on Sunday, organised by striking East Timorese employees of Timor Aviation
Services. The Australian Council of Trade Unions claims the arrest is
unprecedented, and the UN has interfered with the right to take industrial
Presenter/Interviewer: Kellie Day
Speakers: Sharran Burrow, President of the Australian Council of Trade
Unions (ACTU); Zito de Costa, President of the East Timor Trade Union
Council (KSTL); Alan King, Deputy Commissioner of Operations UN Police in
East Timor; Tony Penna, Managing Director of Timor Aviation Services in
DAY: Mick Killick is a union organiser with Australia's International
Transport Federation, who's been working with East Timor's Trade Union
Council, the KSTL. On Sunday morning, he was arrested by United Nations
police, during a protest at Dili airport, by employees of Timor Aviation
Services. The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sharran
Burrow, says Mr Killick took part in a legitimate, peaceful protest and
his arrest was unwarranted.
BURROW: To have someone arrested for legitimate activity and held
without charges seems to us to be incredible. But it does appear that this
is at the level of harrassment rather than the level of significant or
serious breach of any legal statute.
DAY: For six months, management of Timor Aviation Services has been
negotiating with workers, who want a collective bargaining agreement
setting out their employment conditions and entitlements. But last month
amid discussions, two workers were sacked when they refused to unload an
aircraft that arrived unscheduled during their shift. After mediation,
East Timor's Labor and Solidarity Department recommended the company
reinstate the workers. But Timor Aviation Services refused, prompting the
beginning of a strike and protest action by the company's 13 local
employees last Friday. The company's managing director, Tony Penna, claims
the protesters tried to hinder Timor Aviation's operations, promptingUN
police to step in.
PENNA: There are a number of people whose bags were grabbed and whose
arms were grabbed by the protestors to stop them when they were pushing
their way through into the airport. They were told very clearly that they
couldn't do that that the airport must still operate that passengers must
still be allowed to enter the airport but they made a very serious attempt
to stop people entering the airport.
DAY: Mick Killick's arrest has been a hot topic of discussion among
union officials at the International Labor Organisation's Asia Pacific
regional conference in New Zealand. They've passed a motion condemning the
UN police in East Timor, for what they call unprecedented action to arrest
and detain union officials. Sharran Burrow from Australia's ACTU believes
the UN police have overriden the right to take legitimate industrial
BURROW: Certainly from our perspective it looks like the UN police have
crossed the line. So yes we would ask why it is that the UN police have
involved themselves in industrial issues and secondly why it is that
someone would be held for 72 hours without release either into custody or
DAY: Local union officials in East Timor say the situation is made
worse by the fact that local East Timor police saw no reason to intervene
in the dispute. Zito de Costa is the president of the KSTL.
DE COSTA: So UN have to take action on this otherwise the UN
institutions will be bad for East Timor people because now we are starting
democracy to express our idea, but then the police want to stop democracy.
We can't tolerate on this.
DAY: Union officials in East Timor want to know if business dealings
between Timor Aviation and the UN had anything to do with Mr Killick's
arrest. In September, the company took on a 10 month contract to load and
unload UN aircraft at Dili airport. The UN police deputy commissioner of
operations in East Timor, Alan King, has dismissed that suggestion. He
alleges the Australian assaulted one of his officers and he's confident
the UN police have done nothing wrong.
KING: I have worked here for some time now and they are very very
resilient and they do not jump to situations or jump to conclusions of
situations. And I think the officer concerned is a very experienced
officer who's worked in many places around the world.
DAY: The ongoing dispute at Timor Aviation Services shows the
difficulties East Timor's government and community face in setting up
systems covering matters such as industrial relations. Sharran Burrow from
the ACTU says progress is slow but patience is necessary.
BURROW: If you're asking a worker's representative, i.e me, is it fast
enough I'd say no but on the other hand we're very sympathetic because
it's an incredible task isn't it to set up a whole legal system, to
establish a government in transition so of course while we would be
impatient we're also respectful of the fact that the commitment to the
law, the intentions around legal procedures, the process to set up an
arbitration court, those things are in place and we wish them well.
The Age [Melbourne] Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Row erupts as UN police jail Australian unionist
By Paul Robinson Workplace Editor
An Australian union official has been jailed in East Timor by United
Nations police after a demonstration outside a local airline office owned
by Australian travel company executives.
The ACTU protested yesterday to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the
International Labor Organisation and Australia's consulate in Timor after
the unionist, Michael Killick, was removed from a picket line at Dili
Airport and jailed on Sunday. He was charged with assaulting an UN
ACTU president Sharan Burrow said yesterday from an ILO conference in
New Zealand: "It's now an international incident. The arrest of Mick
Killick is an amazing over-reaction and one that we believe cannot be
justified, particularly from an organisation which supports collective
According to the International Transport Workers Federation, the
dispute flared because Timor Aviation Services, which handles baggage,
sacked unionists shortly after being awarded a major contract to manage
flights for UN staff. Mr Killick is a Maritime Union official.
Ms Burrow said the UN had no business in local industrial disputes.
"What is the UN doing putting an Australian union official in
jail?" We have been told it was a peaceful assembly outside the
office of Timor Air, which has refused to collectively bargain with its
workers in good faith."
She said other unionists at the Dili Airport picket had assured her the
protest was peaceful and Mr Killick, the only Australian, had been plucked
from the group.
TAS director Tony Penna said from Dili Mr Killick had been arrested
after he scuffled with UN police during the picket.
Late last night the UN said Mr Killick had been freed on bail.
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