Chris Peterson

Hundreds braved rain on October 13 to rally against the construction of the East West link in Melbourne's inner suburbs.

The Socialist Party's Anthony Maine, vilified by the Herald Sun as a “serial pest” spoke at the rally. He said: “The government is making decisions on behalf of the road lobby. We have the potential of mass support on our side of people that want to see more rail [lines] built. Our goal has to be to mobilise these people into action."

International students and supporters rallied on October 17 to oppose international students being exploited, bullied and pushed into poverty in Melbourne’s office cleaning industry.

The rally was called by cleaners’ union United Voice as part of anti-poverty week.

United Voice Victoria secretary Jess Walsh said: "International students are a very important part of our community. A quarter of the international students we surveyed received less than $10 an hour at work, and 60% received less than the minimum wage and many reported experiencing racism and sexual harassment.

About 260 people gathered at a mass meeting in Tecoma on August 11 and vowed to continue to fight against a McDonald’s Restaurant in their town.

Demolition of the site began on August 8 but the meeting reaffirmed their determination to maintain a protest on the site.

Support for the protest continues to grow. The Victorian branch of the Australian Service Union released a statement on August 10.

A protest to defend welfare rights and public housing was held in Coburg on August 3. The rally called for a rise in all welfare payments to a liveable income, the restoration of the sole parents pension, an end to welfare quarantining and public housing for all who need it.

Moreland city councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton told the rally: "The single parent payment is important because it allows women to leave violent relationships and gives parents the right to decide  to be at home with their children."

There was standing room only at the Collingwood Health Centre as about 200 people met on July 20 to oppose the East-West tunnel and tollway. The road plan threatens to demolish homes, spew fumes onto a primary school and childcare centre, and destroy wetlands and parks in Melbourne’s west.

Yarra councillor and Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly said the campaign was not a lost cause, but a long-term fight. He urged people to look at the legal and political options, as well as mass actions and pickets if work went ahead on the project.

Protesters are facing legal threats over their fight to protect the Dandenong Ranges from the yellow fluorescent arches of McDonald's franchises.

In a proposal first rejected by the local council last year, McDonald’s was later given approval by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to build a restaurant opposite the local primary school in the small town of Tecoma. VCAT made the decision despite strong opposition from local residents, including a petition with 2000 signatures.

The Victorian government has escalated its plans to build an unpopular, costly and environmentally damaging East-West road tunnel.

The Age reported on July 15 that "about 250 residents have received a letter advising the east-west link road tunnel is likely to be constructed near their properties, triggering concern that many homes will be compulsorily acquired.

“The state government last week sent the letter to residents in Collingwood, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on or near Alexandra Parade and whose homes could stand in the way of the multibillion-dollar tollway.

Australia's four biggest banks — the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac — dubbed the "banksters", were condemned for crimes against people and the environment during a protest in Melbourne on June 29.

Protesters marched to each bank, cordoned of the entrance to create a symbolic crime scene and read out a charge sheet.

The action was called by the Socialist Alliance. Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, argued the big banks, mines and energy companies should be nationalised and put under community control.

Taxi drivers at Melbourne airport have started a hunger strike in protest at changes that will see their pay cut by up to 40%.

The Australian said on June 11 that drivers rallied against "a new fares system implemented at the airport earlier this year, which sometimes sees them wait two hours for a fare of less than $10."

Previously drivers could skip the general queue after returning to the airport after a short fare, but this queue has now been axed. As drivers are paid based on fares collected, rather than a fixed wage, this amounts to a pay cut for drivers.

The Victorian government continued its attack on civil rights last week with the announcement that new prison cells would be built at train stations for use by protective services officers (PSOs).

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