Jim McIlroy

The latest round of penalty rate cuts, which reduce weekend and public holiday penalty rates for staff in the retail, hospitality and pharmacy sectors by 10–15% from July 1, is estimated by the ACTU to affect 700,000 workers.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the penalty rate cuts would cost many retail and fast food workers between $2000 and $6000 a year.

"The refugee crisis is a union issue, as well as a social justice issue," Australian Services Union (ASU) NSW and ACT deputy secretary Judith Wright told about 100 people on June 27 at the "Change the Rules for Refugees" forum organised by Unions for Refugees.

"The ASU has members in support services for refugees. They see first-hand the results of the oppression and violence suffered by asylum seekers," she said.

The federal Coalition government's so-called "tax reform" package is, overall, a major escalation of the capitalist class war by the rich against the poor and working people.

The initial tranche of income tax measures will reduce tax by a very modest amount for low-income taxpayers, but the long-term effect of the package is to massively reduce tax on the wealthy and attack the elements of a progressive taxation system established in this country over many years.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has welcomed as a “victory for common sense” a Federal Court decision on June 21 to reject massive fines sought by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) over the Hutchison Ports dispute three years ago.

On August 6, 2015, Hutchison Ports Australia sacked 100 workers at its Port Botany terminal by text message the day before many were due to go on shift. The company then placed guards on the gates and workers were not even allowed to clear out their lockers.

A new round has been launched in the ongoing struggle over the protection of workers' rights to their lifetime savings in Australia's $2.6 trillion superannuation industry.

The Productivity Commission's latest report into Australia's $2.6 trillion, scandal plagued, superannuation industry has called for a number of reforms. While noting a number of serious problems with the current system, its proposals to tackle them are just as flawed and still put workers' earnings at the mercy of the market.

The Sydney University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) held a forum on campus on June 13 to discuss how to organise to rewin the right to strike.

Professor John Buchanan, from the University of Sydney Business School, told the forum: "The current Fair Work Act (FWA), introduced by the previous Labor government, is the second worst industrial relations legislation in Australian history, after John Howard's Work Choices.

More than 100 members of unions, aid and development organisations, health, environment and other groups rallied in Sydney on June 15 outside the Federal Parliament's Joint Standing Committee public hearing on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)-11 trade agreement. The rally was organised by the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET).

ABC Friends National has called for nation-wide rallies in July to protest the continual funding cuts to the ABC, the ongoing conservative attacks on the independence of the ABC and the recent Liberal Party Federal Council motion supporting privatisation of the national public media organisation.

The Liberal Party’s peak body voted by a margin of more than 2:1 on June 16 for "the full privatisation of the ABC, except for services into regional areas that are not commercially viable".

In a clear win for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that Eureka Flags and other union banners can be flown from cranes on building sites.

The decision is another setback for the federal Coalition government and its industrial police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Activist group No WestConnex: Public Transport not Motorways (NOW PT) has called for a halt to the tender and construction processes for WestConnex, including the acquisition of homes and businesses for all stages of the project and demanded the NSW government conduct a full parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex.

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