On August 31, Australian Defence Industries informed the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission that it intends to apply for an exemption from the WA Equal Opportunity Act.
If upheld, the application would allow ADI to exclude from employment workers born in any of the 20 countries that appear on a US government blacklist. It would also require all employees to wear tags indicating their country of birth.
While the changes would meet the requirements of the recently introduced US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, and allow ADI to bid for lucrative US defence contracts, it is estimated that 40% of ADI's 220 employees in Western Australia would face dismissal or transfer.
The application for exemption is being opposed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson and UnionsWA. AMWU state secretary Jock Ferguson told Workers Online on September 3 that the proposal was a form of apartheid and was unacceptable.
According to the September 3 West Australian, ADI has already been granted an exemption by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in order to prevent ADI losing US contracts, and is expected to apply for exemptions in Queensland and New South Wales.
From Green Left Weekly #597.
Wednesday, September 8, 2004