Alex Salmon

"Art is a weapon in the People's fight" declared an advert for a 1940 production of the play Women by the left-wing Workers Art Guild (WAG) that was active in Perth from 1935 to 1942.

Losing Santhia: Life & Loss in the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
By Ben Hillier
Interventions, 2019
150 pages

In 2009, the Sri Lankan military launched a genocidal offensive against the island's Tamil population on a stretch of sand in Mullivaikal, in the island's north-east.

Claiming its offensive was to rescue civilians, the Sri Lankan military carried out an indiscriminate bombing offensive against Tamil civilians that killed tens of thousands.

After centuries under the yoke of English rule, Irish nationalists staged failed uprisings against British rule in 1798, 1803 and 1848. By 1858, Irish freedom fighters formed the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Known as the Fenians, they recruited among Irish soldiers in the British army to overthrow the British authorities.

However by 1867, the Fenian rising was crushed and dozens of their members sentenced to up 15 years in the British penal colony of Western Australia. Once there, they sent to Fremantle Gaol. Known as the "Convict Establishment" or the "Living Tomb", and built by convict labour in the 1850s, the men were subjected to a brutal regime of forced labour and floggings.

On December 9, 1966, the Australian government signed a public agreement with the United States to build what both countries misleadingly called a “Joint Defence Space Research Facility” at Pine Gap, just outside Alice Springs.

Officially, Pine Gap is a collaboration between the Australian Department of Defence and the Pentagon’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. In reality this conceals the real purpose of Pine Gap as a CIA-run spy base designed to collect signals from US surveillance satellites in geosynchronous orbit over the equator.

Members of the Kashmiri community and supporters rallied for a free Kashmir on September 1.

A rally against the proposed religious exemptions bill was held in Perth on August 24.

Goodes’ story shows that racism is well and truly alive.

While researching Japanese working-class resistance to World War II, Kaye Broadbent discovered in a Japanese university archive Masao Sugiura’s 1964 memoir, detailing the formation and activities of the Shuppanako Kurabu (Print and Publishing Worker’s Club). Based upon Sugiura’s 1981 second edition, the English translation of Against the Storm provides an inspiring account of how Sugiura and his comrades were able to organise and sustain links between workers, despite increasing wartime repression by the Japanese military regime.

A new activist group, Unnamed, has been formed in Perth and is aiming to get people active around climate change, writes Alex Salmon.

In A Natural Battleground, Bobbie Oliver, historian and author of the award-winning The Workshops — A history of the Midland Government Workshops, documents the ongoing attempts to preserve Western Australia's Government Railway workshops site.

The Australian Workers’ Union claimed an important victory on June 7 after the Fair Work Commission upheld its appeal against a previous ruling allowing US aluminium giant Alcoa to terminate its enterprise bargaining agreement with the union. 

About 60 members of the Sudanese community and their supporters rallied on June 15 in solidarity with the democratic uprising in Sudan. The action was called by the Until We Return Cultural Group Australia.

About 1600 members of the Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) employed at various ALCOA Aluminium refineries and bauxite mines throughout Western Australia again sent a strong message to the American multinational to negotiate a fairer Enterprise Bargaining Agreement after the company’s EBA was voted down on March 2.

Transport Worker's Union members employed by bus company Transdev WA are continuing their strike actions for parity in wages and conditions with drivers in private companies.

Attempts by the TWU leadership to get the Western Australian state government, responsible for contracting the French Multinational company that employs 1100 bus drivers to force Transdev WA to negotiate have failed.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) members employed by bus company Transdev WA organised a 4-hour stoppage on February 7 as part of their campaign for parity in wages and conditions with other drivers.

The stoppage, which affected routes through Rockingham, Mandurah, Fremantle and Joondalup, was the latest action in the union’s long-running industrial campaign that began in January last year. Talks between the Western Australian TWU leadership and the French multinational transport company broke down last October.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) condemned the Australian Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) decision at the end of last year in favour of US multinational Alcoa, saying on January 4 it would fight it.

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