Chris Slee

About 250 people attended a rally on August 4 in solidarity with 55 sacked maintenance workers who had been employed at the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford. The workers, members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, were sacked on June 10. They were told they could re-apply for their jobs with a new contracting company, but that their pay would be cut by 65%. The rally, held outside the CUB brewery, was attended by members and officials from a wide range of unions.
Mass meetings of members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on July 26 voted to endorse in principle two proposed enterprise agreements negotiated with the Victorian state government. One agreement covers workers employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), while the other covers the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The two agreements provide for pay rises and cover a wide range of other issues including rostering, staffing levels and occupational health and safety.
The children of Santhiyogu Anton, who was abducted, tortured by Sri Lankan security forces. Photo from Tamilnet. Santhiyogu Anton, a 38 year old Tamil man, was abducted and tortured by Sri Lankan military intelligence on June 29. After previous experiences of harassment by military intelligence, Anton had sought the assistance of the Catholic Church. He was allowed to stay at a church near the city of Mannar.
Socialist councillor Sue Bolton convinced Moreland Council on July 13 to reinstate the after-hours Aged and Disability Home Support Services for existing clients as well as new ones. Bolton said she was enormously grateful to the parents of children with disabilities who spoke up on behalf of all the parents who were unable to come to the meeting or who didn’t think it was possible to fight the cut. “Those parents put a human face on the implications of a very bureaucratic cut: their stories had an impact on the other councillors”, Bolton told Green Left Weekly.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he will amend the Fair Work Act to make it possible for the federal government to block the proposed new enterprise agreement for firefighters employed by Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA). Turnbull said he will introduce legislation in the first sitting week of the new parliament to expand the list of "objectionable terms" that cannot be included in enterprise agreements.
United Firefighters Union (UFU) members handed out leaflets at polling booths in Victorian marginal seats on election day, in an attempt to counter a Liberal scare campaign against a new enterprise agreement for UFU members employed by the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The Liberals falsely claim that the agreement gives the UFU the power of veto over CFA management decisions, and that it would prevent volunteer firefighters from fighting fires unless seven professional firefighters were present. They claim that the agreement endangers public safety.
The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has produced a TV advertisement responding to a scare campaign against a new enterprise agreement for firefighters employed by Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA). Anti-union forces claim the agreement will damage the CFA and undermine its ability to fight fires.
Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a law lecturer at Jaffna University, told a meeting in Melbourne on June 12 that the pervasive oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka is leading to the "normalisation of abnormalcy". Guruparan was delivering the annual Eliezer memorial lecture, in honour of Professor C J Eliezer, a noted mathematical physicist and campaigner for Tamil rights.
Chief minister of the Northern Provincial Council, CV Wigneswaran, addressing a commemorative event at Mullivaikkal, May 18. Photo: Tamil Guardian. Tamils throughout the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka held ceremonies on May 18 to remember those who died in the genocidal war waged by the Sri Lankan Army against the Tamil people.
The Victorian budget, presented by Treasurer Tim Pallas on April 27, is in surplus, due largely to a big increase in stamp duty revenue, to a record $6 billion a year. This revenue is a result of Melbourne's real estate boom. House prices have been rising rapidly. But the number of homeless people has also been rising rapidly. There has been a marked increase in the number of homeless people begging on the streets.
Eritrea, a small country in the horn of Africa, generally receives little attention in the international media. But in recent years there have been occasional reports of mass drownings of Eritrean refugees in the Mediterranean. As of June 2015, there were 383,869 refugees from Eritrea registered with the UNHCR. There were also 60,157 asylum seekers who had applied for refugee status.
University of Jaffna students stage hunger strike in solidarity with fasting prisoners. Photo: Tamilnet.com. Fourteen Tamil prisoners have been on hunger strike since February 22. They are demanding the release of all Tamil political prisoners and prisoners of war.
February 4 protest in Vavuniyaa. Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka held protests on February 4, the former British colony's independence day.
A six-year-old boy, Tharshan Kugathasan, was found dead near a navy base at Champoor on the east coast of Sri Lanka on January 26. The boy's body was found in a disused well. The body had been weighed down with a large stone tied to his body by military-style shoelaces. He had earlier been seen with Sri Lankan navy personnel who used to offer him food and chocolates, according to local residents quoted by the Tamilnet website. Evidence indicates that he was raped and murdered by navy personnel.
A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24. Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria. As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.
Tamils protest for the release of political prisoners. Colombo, October 2015. When Maithripala Sirisena was elected as president of Sri Lanka in January last year, he promised to end human rights violations by the security forces. Under Sirisena's predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, it was common practice for the army and police to abduct people and torture them. Some were later released, while others were murdered.

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