Australia

Millions of Australian workers have faced the worst losses in their superannuation since 1992. Super funds have shown losses of on average 6.4% for the last financial year, with some showing losses as high as 15%, putting workers’ retirement funds in jeopardy.

The truck drivers’ national transport shutdown came to an end on July 30, with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) failing to endorse the action and calling on frustrated drivers to instead lobby the federal government.

The fight to keep NSW electricity in public hands must and can be won. If Premier Morris Iemma and treasurer Michael Costa get away with their plan to sell off the state’s electricity generation capacity and its retail arms, working people and the community will get a dearer, less reliable service, and the chances of the state moving to a sustainable energy policy will be reduced to zero.

At a “Rally for the River” on August 1, some 2000 people gathered on the steps of state parliament to voice concerns about the plight of the Murray River’s Lower Lakes and the lack of action by state and federal politicians to address the crisis.

The export of coal is an important issue for climate campaigners to consider. Australia exports more carbon dioxide in the form of coal than its entire domestic emissions of the gas.

The campaign to throw out all charges against Palm Island Aboriginal leader Lex Wotton is gaining momentum. The Indigenous Social Justice Association, Melbourne (ISJA) is organising a Victorian speaking tour with him from August 6-10.

The Australian Workers Union has many members in the aluminium refining and smelting industry, which accounted for 45.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 (7.9% of Australia’s total). Obviously, such a major greenhouse polluter — the dirtiest for every dollar of value added — has to be radically restructured if carbon emissions are to be cut to sustainable levels.

Two radical events marked July 26, the date in 1953 when Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada Barracks that failed militarily, but inspired the ultimately successful Cuban Revolution.

A survey of unionists in the heart of Australia’s coal regions shows strong sentiment for action to stop climate change. The poll, commissioned by the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), surveyed 400 AMWU members in the Bowen Basin, Gippsland, Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

More than 100 workers and union solidarity activists closed down the Yarraville CSR construction site on July 25. They were protesting against construction manager John Kint’s threat to dock the pay of any worker who talked to a union official. Kint is notorious for his anti-union stance. He was responsible for sacking a workers’ representative at Woodside’s Otways gas plant in Port Campbell in 2007, which led to months of industrial unrest. There will be a community meeting in Yarraville to discuss the CSR dispute. For more information, visit http://www.unionsolidarity.org.

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