Australia

Documents leaked from Telstra’s human resources department and released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to the Sydney Morning Herald on August 14, show that the company wants to bypass unions and impose a non-union collective agreement on its 32,000 employees, thereby cutting its annual wages bill by $50 million. On August 13, Telstra announced a $3.7 billion profit for the 2007-08 financial year.
Around 150 women and men gathered on the lawns of the Mt Isa Civic Centre on August 19 to condemn Mayor John Moloney’s recent statement degrading women and to demand his resignation.
In a move eerily reminiscent of the lousy pay offers this year to NSW and Victorian public sector workers, the Queensland Labor government has offered staff at the Department of Main Roads a 3.25% per year increase for the three years of their current enterprise agreement. The offer is significantly below the official inflation rate in Brisbane of 5.1%, the highest of any capital city in Australia.
November 11 is Remembrance Day, marked each year to commemorate those who have died in war.
Low-income tenants in community housing will face greater hardship following a recent NSW government policy decision that means tenants will lose their rent assistance.
This month the federal Labor government announced a pilot seasonal worker scheme in the horticulture industry. Under the trial, up to 2500 visas will be available over three years for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven out of any 12 months. Swan Hill in Victoria and Griffith in NSW, among other horticultural districts, are being considered for the pilot.
On July 28, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed internal state government documents stating that even if prices for petrol, parking and road tolls increased massively, Sydney’s car use would still climb beyond NSW government targets by 2016.
Two thousand striking Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers gathered at Melbourne’s Atheneum Theatre on August 20 to demand better pay and conditions. The last time Victorian TAFE teachers went on strike was under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government 13 years ago.
“All those who want to live in a healthy, equal society should vote for the Socialist Alliance”, Soubhi Iskander, one of three candidates to contest ward 3 of the Blacktown City Council elections for Socialist Alliance on September 13, told Green Left Weekly.
When does a worker, even a casual or part-time worker, join a union? When it’s clear that membership brings better pay, working conditions and job security. Why, then, is union membership among workers at an all-time low? Because in so many industries union membership doesn’t seem to bring these benefits.

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