The Guardian December 13, 2000


Joining forces against globalisation

by Vic Williams

A public convention initiated by Stop MAI in Perth has brought together 
diverse political opinions focused on one issue  the local and world-wide 
effects of globalisation.

Speakers and participants from the left and right of the political spectrum 
attended the all-day meeting at Curtin University on Saturday, November 25, 
setting an example of the unity needed to defeat the corporate global drive 
to dominate the world.

Union representatives said that unions needed to be oriented to specific 
issues while not being isolated from local questions.

On trade and investment, those for fair trade said they saw the breaking 
down of barriers as one of the positives of globalisation, but that this 
was outweighed by the inequities of power.

The feeling among speakers generally was that corporate globalisation was 
not inevitable, as evidenced by the campaigns to stop MAI and other such 
actions against the World Bank and IMF in Seattle, Washington and 
Melbourne.

Speakers also pointed to the big increase in trade to the advantage of the 
transnational corporations, with the increasing polarisation between rich 
and poor, a constant downward pressure on wages, and growing unemployment.

The afternoon workshops showed a wide range of political and social 
activities, each with their own interpretation of the dangers of 
globalisation and possible solutions.

The workshop on the union response to globalisation organised by the Civil 
Services Association outlined actions against Nike and Rio Tinto.

Campaigns have been waged in forums on local and national activities and 
the internationalisation of the union movement, with assistance to 
developing countries and working with community groups.

Bob Phelps, national leader of the GeneEthics Network, led the workshop 
which explained how globalisation was trying to drive Australia into gene 
technology.

He called for the labelling of all GE food, a five-year freeze on GEO 
releases and welcomed the initiative of the people that had resulted in 
councils going GE-free.

The speakers at the workshop on participatory democracy looked at the 
possibility of people participating more in the decisions affecting their 
lives. The global revolution could mean more direct participation in 
government.

The anarcho-syndicalist movement organised the workshop Big Brother which 
raised the increased industrial espionage, civil surveillance and 
eavesdropping as part of globalisation in the process of corporate sector 
taking over governments and setting the national agenda.

Amnesty International and other organisations explored how international 
conventions and legal structures could be used against multinationals for 
their human rights abuse and unacceptable labour standards.

Global injustice and global solutions were examined in the workshop of the 
Democratic Socialist Party and favoured a line of international solidarity 
as against Australian nationalism and protectionism.

The workshop World Health at the Crossroads examined the ever-increasing 
domination of the health industry by pharmaceutical transnationals.

Three pharmaceutical giants were recently defeated by an international 
campaign when they tried to use a UN organisation CODEX to impose a world-
wide ban on all health information about vitamins, hormone and natural 
therapies, and put severe restrictions on their sale.

The convention drew together over 150 people. The organisers, in examining 
the convention, recognised the problems and the achievement in bringing 
different trends together.

They were unanimous in the aim of bringing more organisations and people 
into campaigns around globalisation.

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