Anglophone countries agree to make urgent reforms
SYDNEY / PERTH
Commonwealth leaders agreed yesterday to a series of reforms they said would prevent the 54-nation bloc sliding into irrelevancy, but divisions over human rights diluted their modernization drive.
Leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) agreed to establish a charter of common values seen as crucial in directing the organization that represents two billion people from vastly different stages of development.
They also gave more power for the Commonwealth to pressure member nations that are committing human rights abuses or drifting away from democracy. Meanwhile, Australian airline Qantas left tens of thousands of passengers and nearly 20 world leaders in a lurch Oct. 29 after it grounded its entire fleet due to a bitter dispute with airline unions. The decision came as an embarrassment for Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was hosting a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in the remote western city of Perth, 17 of them booked to fly out yesterday with Qantas.
Unions, from pilots to caterers, have taken strike action since September over pay and to oppose Qantas plans to cut its soaring costs, as it looks at setting up two new airlines in Asia and cutting back financially draining long-haul flights. The government asked for a special labour tribunal hearing to end the industrial action by both unions and Qantas. A late night hearing was adjourned until later yesterday. If it orders an end to the industrial action, Qantas is expected to start flying again.
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.