News Briefs

Issue 

Dispute at stadium

BRISBANE — Completion of the $350 million Lang Park stadium redevelopment in time for the Brisbane vs Newcastle rugby league blockbuster in late May is in doubt because of a looming industrial dispute. Developers involved in the site have failed to agree to union claims on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

The sticking point in negotiations, which are also threatening projects worth an estimated $2 billion in Brisbane alone, is a claim by building industry unions for an extra 13 rostered days off, taking the total number of RDOs to 26 a year.

Unions have also insisted that building sites be closed on RDOs, which would be scheduled a year in advance.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Wally Trohear said on January 22 predicted the unions would reach agreement with 25 to 30 "premier builders" by the end of the month, but this did not include companies involved in the Lang Park joint venture.

"Regrettably, those remaining will find themselves in dispute", he said.

Teachers' dispute

BRISBANE — Queensland teachers are considering industrial action in support of their union log of claims. Queensland Teachers Union president Julie-Ann McCullough said on January 22 that teachers were being advised of "a smorgasbord" of industrial action options, including stoppages, insisting on uninterrupted 45-minute lunch breaks and strictly adhering to set class sizes.

The QTU campaign is a reply to the state Labor government's "outrageous" response to the union's log of claims. "We tabled our claim at the end of July — the government didn't even respond until the end of last year", McCullough said.

The teachers' claim includes a pay increase of 8% a year. The government had offered 3.5%, "take it or leave it", McCullough said.

Anti-war cavalcade

ADELAIDE — On January 23, the Network Opposing War And Racism (NOWAR) launched its "lights on for peace" campaign with a cavalcade against the war. Fifty cars with headlights on, and carrying anti-war placards, banners and balloons made their way through the city centre.

The "lights on" campaign, which asks people to switch on their headlights during the day, was initiated by NOWAR as a simple way for people to show their continuing opposition to the war on Iraq, and as a way of publicising the February 16 rally. Participants in the cavalcade noted that several passing vehicles, including public buses, switched their lights on during the protest.

Another cavalcade is being planned for February 1. NOWAR can be contacted on 0414 773 918, or by visiting <http://www.nowar-sa.net>.

120 attend anti-war forum

CANBERRA — A forum organised by the ACT Network Opposing War (ACT NOW) on the "strategic and domestic implications of a war on Iraq" attracted around 120 people on January 23.

The feature speakers, Damien Lawson of the Victorian Peace Network and Dr Rick Kuhn of the Australian National University, covered issues such as the likely effects of a war around the world, the Coalition government's approach to war and the refugee and humanitarian crisis likely to result from military action.

Several activists noted the large anti-war sentiment obvious when campaigning on the streets of Canberra. A number of new people signed up on the night to take part in ACT NOW campaigning and several thousand leaflets and posters were taken for distribution. A speakout will be held January 31, at 5pm, at Garema Place, Civic.

Darebin anti-war group

MELBOURNE — The first meeting of the Darebin Anti-War Group was held on January 19. More than a dozen

activists discussed local action, building towards the

February 14 major Melbourne rally. There will be a speak-out at Preston markets on January 25.

AMEC picket

MELBOURNE — Since January 15, workers employed by AMEC have been picketing the Carrum Downs water treatment plant.

AMEC is a contractor employed to install seven new diesel generating sets at the plant, which is owned by Melbourne Water (a state government body). The picket is a response to AMEC's sacking of eight workers on the last working day before the Christmas break. Those sacked included the delegates for the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

AMEC claims that the eight were sacked due to lack of work for them to do, but the picketers told Green Left Weekly that this is untrue.

The picket is in Thompson Road, Carrum Downs. The picketers have been receiving strong community support, with cars tooting their horns, people calling in to talk to the picketers, and meatworkers supplying food.

RAC protests racist cricketers

SYDNEY — Following on from the International Cricket Council's suspension of Australian cricketer Darren Lehman for racist remarks and the abuse dished out to Sri Lankan star Muttiah Muralitharan during his team's tour of Australia, activists from the Refugee Action Coalition of NSW protested outside the one day cricket final at the Sydney Cricket Ground on January 23.

RAC activists also called on one day cricket captain Ricky Ponting to back former Australial cricket captain Ian Chappell's recent call for more humane treatment for refugees.

From Green Left Weekly, January 29, 2003.

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