The scale of the current crisis has as much to do with poverty and injustice as with 'nature'.
Trade unions play an important role in education, health and community initiatives across the world that help people fight back. I encourage you to read about the work of the Australian union movement's aid organisation APHEDA and to consider establishing a regular donation.
We need to think beyond the crisis. The estimated 200,000 people who will have died from the tsunami join 3 million people who will die this year from AIDS related diseases. Millions more will die prematurely from dirty water, malaria and cholera. The 2 million people displaced by this current crisis join 15 million other refugees across the world.
There is nothing natural about this order. It arises because the ruling class insists that human rights, trade union rights and spending on critical public services not interfere with their pursuit of profit. That's precisely why we need trade unions both here and in 'developing' nations.
Feel-good sponsorship type charities don't adequately address the real causes of poverty and lack of human rights. However international solidarity can help people to collectively tackle inequality and injustice. When it comes to aid, who we donate to is every bit as important as how much we give.
We need to break the ‘crisis/relief’ mentality if we are to genuinely address human disasters and injustice. Trade unions are ideally placed to do this work.
By Paul Petersen Public Service Association NSW Vice President (in a private capacity)
How You Can Donate through APHEDA
1. Ring 1800 888 674 (free call) or (02)9264 9343 between 8:00am and 6:00pm
2. Mail a cheque to APHEDA, Lvl 3, 377 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000