The ACTU and its affiliated unions are opposed to John Howard’s commitment of Australia to the looming war with Iraq. ACTU Secretary Greg Combet said that John Howard was acting in breach of Australia’s international obligations.

“Unions have long supported a peaceful process to contain and disarm the Iraqi regime,” said Mr Combet. “We believe that this process must be carried out by the United Nations”.

Mr Combet said that John Howard’s cavalier support for the US attack on Iraq, without UN backing, is not in the interest of the Australian people.

“John Howard has not provided evidence of a link between Iraq and the terrorist threat to Australia, nor has he demonstrated that Iraq itself is an imminent threat to Australians.

“John Howard has not acknowledged that the peaceful disarmament of Iraq has made progress in recent times. His support for an attack on Iraq will in fact increase the security risk to Australians.

“In these circumstances there is no case for Australia to be involved in this war. There will be a massive humanitarian cost to war in Iraq which cannot possibly be justified,” said Mr Combet.

“The ACTU regards this act by the Howard Government as a betrayal of the trust of the Australian people,” said Mr Combet.

Mr Combet said that the great majority of Australians, many of them union members, are opposed to the illegal war.

Mr Combet said that unions will support and organise protests against the war, and support the right of workers to participate in peaceful political protest.

“Our argument is with the Howard Government over this issue – not our troops. Like all Australians our thoughts are with the Australian service men and women and their families who are being drawn deeper into this conflict by the hour.

“The ACTU Executive will meet next week and the war will obviously be a key issue of discussion,” said Mr Combet.