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Remote work-for-the-dole scheme is racist, ACTU head Sally McManus says

Helen Davidson reports in The Guardian (6.8.17) on claims from ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus, that the federal government’s compulsory Community Development Program unfairly targets Indigenous people and is ‘definitely discriminatory’.

‘The remote work-for-the-dole scheme is a racist policy, the head of the ACTU has said.

‘Sally McManus, the recently appointed secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, made the comments at the Garma festival in north-east Arnhem Land on Sunday. In a speech she said the compulsory Community Development Program (CDP), which required participants to do 25 hours of “work-like activity” a week for welfare payments at a rate of about $10 an hour, unfairly targeted Indigenous people and was a “stark reminder” of the continuing existence of structural racism.

‘“People are working, some of them in jobs they were once paid award wages for and often for for-profit companies. The employers are getting CDP workers for free”.

‘She earlier told Guardian Australia it was already “definitely discriminatory” because it applied only to people in rural and remote areas.

‘… Concern over the CDP had led to the formation of the First Nations Workers Alliance – a quasi-union for people on the program. Because they were on welfare payments and were not “employees”, they could not join a trade union under ACTU rules. It had 300 members after a few months, and will soon begin group decision-making.’

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