Coles, Woolworths, slavery and the global free market outsourcing racket

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(From 'Slaving Away', ABC Four Corners, abc.net.au/4corners)

Four Corners this week showed Coles and Woolworths involved in Australia, through outsourcing, in a form of slavery, writes Bob Ellis.

THIS WEEK'S Four Corners, which showed the sexual harassment, long hours, poor accommodation, starvation wages and unlawful exploitation of young Asian men and women on "working holidays" in this country, showed, as well, Coles and Woolworths involved – at arm's length in this form of slavery and their CEOs guilty, probably, of gaolable crimes, and many, many 'service providers', whose companies were named, liable for immediate imprisonment.

Yet few headlines about this featured in Fairfax and Murdoch, where Coles and Woolworths, ah yes, advertise. No fat-cat exploiters of human misery were named. One sexual harasser, Sam, was nicknamed, pictured and accused yet remains at large. No-one of significance agreed to be interviewed by Kerry O'Brien. Why would they?

It may be that Labor governments in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria will rectify this, and arrests, and show-trials and subsequent headlines will gratify the fans of A Current Affair for a year or so. It is also possible nothing will happen. Like women harassed and raped on Nauru, and children buggered in that jurisdiction, the victims are mainly Asian and may, unlike Chan and Sukumaran, fall "beneath the radar". And the exploitation will continue.

It is worth noting that this method of finding cheap workers, "outsourcing" recruitment and contracts to the shadowy "service providers", who lawlessly skim off a third of the already penurious wages lawlessly paid – some workers take home as little as $8 an hour – has implications in Morrison's "new deal" of nannies for the children of shiftworking mothers.

The money will be "paid directly" to the "service provider", not the mother or the nanny, and the nannies – mostly imported Asians, not all of them legal, you may be sure – will be ripped off, I would think, in a similar way.

Is the Liberal Party involved in this racket? Was the 457 legislation passed for no other reason? Are they already on the take from these outsourced crimes of Coles and Woolworths? What kickback does Coles or Woolworths or, yes, Walmart give them under the counter?

And are they on the take from the "service providers" of Nauru and Manus also? Is this why no trials have occurred for the murderers of Reza Barati? Are senior Abbott Government figures making money in this way? Are they making more from the imported Asian nanny racket he will pass, in the next few weeks, into law?

All over the world, this is going on. The CEOs of the private armies, which are called "security providers", get millions up front for the young men they send into lethal danger in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. "Service providers", whose wet-back slaves work in U.S. slaughterhouses get similar millions upfront from Walmart and the grocery chains to whom they supply, in return, cheap sausages.

It should come as no surprise that the "global free market's" basic product – slaves – are at work day and night in the blood-sluiced factories, the animal killing fields, of rural Australia, and Coles and Woolworths are daily supplying cheap fruit, sausages, vegetables, cheese and biscuits to grateful exploited suburbanites and youth unemployment is now nearing – because of the flown-in Asian 'competition' – thirty per cent.

What do we do about this?

Gaoling some CEOs might be a clear, declarative first move.

I urge some state governments – the "cleanskin" Baird's might be one of them to begin the good work.

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