Union Land Council Solidarity Lauded

Terry O'Shane, MUA seafarer and chair of the NQld Land Council writes to the unions his thanks for support of the Social Compact guaranteeing Aboriginal Australians a stake in multi-billion dollar developments on their land.

I wish to thank you and our fellow Unionists for their vote of support for the development and sign-off of the Social Compact between the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) and the signatory Unions.

The Stop Work Meeting was so very right when they indicated the progressive initiative of this latest engagement between the MUA and the NQLC, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Working men and women generally, have stood on the sidelines as the wealth of this country has been developed and exported offshore.

Governments, both State and Feds, have been the cheer leaders for these big corporations when they indicate there will be jobs and training for our mob when the project goes ahead.  In reality across the country there is very little to show for all their rhetoric.

The reality is if the moment is not captured in the negotiations on Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) then the issue of employing Aboriginal people is left with the sub-contractor and most times the focus is on profit making not social justice in employment.

This Social Compact will now form the Negotiating Framework through which we will engage in the ILUA process. We will seize the time in taking this forward.  We are aware of the opposition to the training needs to have people job ready, we are also aware that governments are too ready to use 457 visas.  We just have to look at the Nor-west shelf.

We had to move and when Comrade Bray spoke to me in Cairns the very first time I ever met him I knew we were going to start something exciting.

I have just come back from Mackay and Gladstone speaking to Traditional Owners and sitting in on some of their meetings.

I was asked to assist with the drafting of a response to the statement from one of the proponents. I assisted by inserting material contained in the Social Compact.

The response from this side of the table once the presentation was read out, was to the effect " I feel like a big load has been lifted from my shoulders".

It was the first time in all the years of negotiations that they had ever done a presentation that spelt out a clear position for Aboriginal parties at the table.

I am under no illusion about how rough the road will get. I am fully aware of the way the opposition activates their forces to discredit the process and play the man.

There will be attacks on the NQLC and my position there as the Chair.  At the end of the day the process needed to happen and it has now started, with the ongoing support and guidance from the Union Movement we will prevail.

I need to recognise Ian Bray in all this as he was the one who initiated the discussion and Paddy Crumlin who gave Ian the nod in doing what was needed to get the document done and signed.

Once again let me thank the stop-work meeting for their (following) vote of support.
See below the resolution from the Newcastle Branch (MUA)
passed unanimously at the NNSW October Monthly Meeting.

 The Newcastle monthly meeting held on 26th October 2010 wishes to commend our unions work in implementing the Social Compact between the NQLC and the ETU, AMWU, CFMEU and ourselves. The meeting applauds this progressive initiative which continues our unions proud history of improving the social conditions of our indigenous brothers and sisters. Special mention must go to officials Ian Bray and Terry O'Shane in realising this compact.
           We also wish to congragulate our fellow progressive unions, the ETU, AMWU and CFMEU, on being signatories to this agreement and ask that you forward this missive on to their respective national offices. Please forward to the NQLC that although we are geographically distant, members of the NNNSW branch are proud to be bonded with them fraternally and will be at the ready to provide any support they should require of us in the future.
           Once again well done, yours in solidarity, Nathan Niddrie on behalf of the Newcastle October monthly meeting.