Rolling industrial action has hit Port Kembla as part of an ongoing dispute between local coal terminal management and workers. Strike action began on February 1 as a result of management scaling back conditions during negotiations over a new enterprise agreement. At any time, up to 15 ships can be spotted sitting on the horizon off Port Kembla. Most of the ships are waiting to access the coal terminal. BHP Billiton operates the terminal on behalf of its owners, which include Xstrata, Peabody Energy, Gujarat NRE and Centennial Coal.
Stop CSG Illawarra will host a community conference on March 25 to discuss the impacts of the coal seam gas industry and the campaign to halt it in New South Wales. Wollongong's Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery will open the conference, and Wollongong City Council has agreed to waive all fees for the use of the city's Town Hall on the day.
Port Kembla Coal Terminal workers began a week-long strike on February 1. The action is a result of management scaling back conditions during negotiations over a new enterprise agreement. BHP Billiton operates the coal terminal on behalf of its owners, which include Xstrata, Peabody Energy, Gujarat NRE and Centennial Coal. Management’s latest offer triggered Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) delegates to take industrial action. About 100 workers had previously voted to approve a seven-day stoppage from February 1, unless management made a late offer
A new government report has found that just 174 of the 700 workers laid off by BlueScope Steel late last year have found new jobs. The federal Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education compiled the report.
Wollongong City Council, elected on September 3, has so far made several decisions that reflect community will in the area. This is a refreshing change from the years of corruption scandals that rocked the last elected council and the four-year unelected administration that followed it. All 13 councillors, including four Liberal, four Labor, three independent and two Green, are under immense pressure to deliver outcomes for the community. Key election issues included democracy, transparency and accountability.
At the end of the night of Wollongong's council elections, September 3, it seemed likely voters had elected Gordon Bradbery, a progressive independent, as lord mayor. Bradbery won 33.9% of the primary vote and is expected to win on preferences. The Liberals’ John Dorahy won 23.4% of the primary, Labor’s Chris Connor 19.7%, the Greens’ Jill Merrin 5.9% and Community Voice’s Michael Organ 4.1%. Votes in the wards were still being counted as Green Left Weekly went to print, but it’s clear the once Labor dominated council will have a very different make up.
Wollongong’s city centre experienced something special on August 25: an explosion of art, culture and youth talent. During Community Voice's public launch of its cultural policy, a crowd of more than 200 people swelled around the mall's amphitheatre. As young musicians performed, graffiti artists Adam Rizvik and Josh Harris produced an amazing piece in real time that simply said “create art” on stage. For two hours the mall — not known for its social atmosphere — was filled with beautiful music, inspired speeches, happy people and the smell of spray paint.
The grassroots campaign for a community driven council in Wollongong is well underway, as the election approaches on September 3. Community Voice is standing a full ticket across all three local wards including Michael Organ, former Greens MP for Cunningham, for mayor. Organ is a local historian and environmental activist. He has been actively involved in campaigns to save Sandon Point and Wollongong's Regent Theatre. He is also part of the recent campaign to secure land at Hill 60 for preservation and public ownership.
Community Voice — a united grassroots ticket to contest Wollongong City Council elections — was officially launched on July 8 at Wollongong Town Hall. The ticket is an exciting development for the Illawarra community. It will contest all positions in the September 3 election, including Lord Mayor. Community Voice has developed a platform based on community democracy, social justice, job creation and sustainable development. It will preselect candidates for councillors on July 24 and for Lord Mayor on July 31.
Community Voice, a united ticket of the left and progressive community in Wollongong, was formed on June 18 after a thorough discussion focussed on putting local council back in the hands of the community. More than 40 people attended including, Reverend Gordon Bradbery, who nearly won the seat of Wollongong in the recent NSW election; Dr Munir Hussain, chairperson of the Omar Mosque; leading members of progressive parties the Greens and the Socialist Alliance; independent and community activists; trade unionists and other activists.
Green Left Weekly is moving to a new office. Ever since it was founded in 1991, GLW has been produced in Sydney in our Chippendale office, on Abercrombie St. For years before that, GLW’s predecessor, Direct Action, was also produced in the Chippendale building. But the space no longer suits our needs and we are moving to an exciting new building on Mountain Street, Ultimo — just minutes from Abercrombie St.
More than 40 people attended a meeting on May 22 in the Wollongong suburb of Corrimal titled, “The future of local government in Wollongong; can it be community driven and democratic”? Wollongong City Council has been under adminstration since March 2008 after the ALP-dominated council was sacked for systemic corruption. An election is scheduled for September 3 for all councillor positions, including Lord Mayor. Trade unionists, socialists, Greens and community activists attended the meeting, which was organised by Broad Left.