Trade union officials are calling on all unionists, environmentalists and anyone with a social conscience to support the people of El Salvador in their sovereign right to dictate land use in their Central American country.
The nation is being sued in a World Bank tribunal by Canadian miner, Pacific Rim (a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian-based Oceana Gold), after the Government did not grant the company a mining permit.
Maritime Union of Australia Victoria Branch Secretary Kevin Bracken has been raising awareness on the campaign – Water Not Gold – after he visited El Salvador on a fact-finding mission last year.
Bracken said it was unconscionable and imperialistic that an Australian resources company would bully a developing nation into granting them a mining license.
“The Salvadorian people have spoken and they have chosen clean water for their children over the short-term and limited benefits of a gold mine,” he said.
“Oceana Gold should respect that choice and immediately drop the law suit.”
The Salvadorian Government is being sued under a little known Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause. Australia is also at risk under ISDS clauses that are written into the recently signed Korea Australia free Trade Agreement and are likely to be included in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). These agreements are negotiated in secret and their contents cannot be disclosed until they have been signed off by the Trade Minister.
“They circumvent the democratic process in this country and are no more than a corporate takeover,” Bracken said.
MUA Sydney Branch Secretary Paul McAleer said the TPP and ISDS was something that all Australians should oppose as it impinges on sovereignty.
“What if, one day, Australia decided to nationalise mining?” McAleer asked.
“Surely, we as a nation should have the ability to make that choice. But then we risk getting sued into bankruptcy by some multi-billion dollar corporation.”
“It just shows that under this capitalist system corporations have more rights than governments and even more worryingly, people.”
The final arbitration will take place on September 15 in Washington DC, to add your voice to the groundswell of opposition, please sign this petition.