Boeing discrimination allowed

Boeing has been seeking exemptions from state anti-discrimination laws for employees of its Australian subsidiaries.

It argues that without being able to choose the nationalities of its Australian employees, the subsidiaries would have difficulties complying with American laws covering defence contractors.

Exemptions from state anti-discrimination laws have already been granted to Boeing in Victoria and Queensland, and a similar exemption is being sought in New South Wales.

The exemptions allow Boeing to ask employees to wear a badge identifying whether they are Australian, American, Canadian, or another nationality and will limit non-Australians’ computer access.

A Boeing spokesman in Australia says the exemptions will not compromise the rights or position of any existing employee.

But Greg Connellan, from the civil rights group, Liberty Victoria, says the new rules are discriminatory.

“What they are being asked to comply with, in no way addresses security issues. All it does is enable certain employees to be discriminated against and presumably other employees to have discrimination in their favour on the basis of their country, does nothing to address real security concerns and may in fact make the security situation worse.”

David Bernie, vice-president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, says the exemptions mean overseas companies are being allowed to infringe on Australian laws.

“It is the first time that I’ve known of exemptions being given effectively because of commercial pressure really from a foreign country, because the situation here is that Boeing would be commercially disadvantaged if it did not comply with these provisions and it is a great shame to see that basically we are selling away hard won rights and giving up on those rights in these circumstances.”

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