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Subject: Cultural Studies »


Ethnic Rights

George Zangalis.

George Zangalis talks about migrant and ethnic rights through the very successful Migrant Workers Committee.



Date Added:

26 June 2002


Making Multicultural Australia


mov (Quicktime);

File size:



20 secs


Former Chair, ACTU Migrant Workers Committee and former member, Victorian Government Steering Committee for "English on the Job" Program in Public Transport.

We started the process of migrant and ethnic rights in the late '60s and early '70s, through the very successful Migrant Workers’ Conferences. One was on industrial issues, the other was on education, and where we really developed the concept of multiculturalism. In those days it was basically called ‘equality of rights’ or ‘ethnic rights’.


It was the unions where migrants had an involvement and the Left had a greater influence. We didn’t get any from right-wing unions. Yet people from right-wing unions did come. They came as individuals because we went into hundreds of workplaces to get delegates elected from the workplaces. Some, with the support of the unions, some indifferent, and in some cases with some opposition.

It was there, that there were declarations about migrant and ethnic rights across the whole spectrum, not only on English on the job being a right, and how to achieve it. But then we raised the more controversial issues - ethnic languages in the workplace - that unions had to communicate in these languages. And we wanted support.

We established the first Migrant Workers’ Centres with about 25 unions putting in a bit of money to keep it going. Then it was spread a little bit into the other states.

Interview for Making Multicultural Australia, 1994.