Jim McIlroy

In response to the decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to order Sydney train drivers to suspend their planned 24-hour strike on January 29, ACTU secretary Sally McManus declared: "The right to strike in Australia is close to being dead."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has seized on International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts predicting a rise in global economic growth following the US administration’s corporate tax cuts, to call for similar cuts here.

Describing the proposed cut as an “enterprise tax program”, Turnbull said on January 22 that the measure would “result in more investment and more jobs” — despite significant evidence that “trickle down” economics does not work.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has demanded that Labor supports its proposal to cut the tax rate for big business from 30% to 25%.

About 50 representatives of Australian unions rallied outside the Consulate of Fiji in North Sydney on January 18 to protest the lock-out of 200 airport workers at Nadi International Airport in Fiji. The workers, including baggage handlers, check-in staff and caterers, had been locked out by the management of Air Terminal Services (ATS) since December 16.

Denis Walker, an Aboriginal rights activist and freedom fighter who died on December 4 at the age of 71, has been described as a trailblazer, revolutionary and a giant in the Aboriginal movement.

A Noonuccal man from Minjerribah, Stradbroke Island, in southern Queensland, Walker was the son of poet Oodgeroo Noonucal (Kath Walker) and Bruce Walker.

He was a major figure in the civil rights and land rights movements of the 1970s, and continued to fight for a treaty between the Australian government and Aboriginal nations until his death.

Sam Watson, a leading Murri activist from Brisbane, has been involved in Aboriginal rights struggles since the 1960s.

He is a prominent author, playwright and filmmaker, and is the Aboriginal affairs spokesperson for Socialist Alliance. A Birri Gubba man, he was previously an academic at the University of Queensland, and received honours for his 1990 novel The Kadaitchi Sung and acclaim for his 1995 film Black Man Down.

Watson spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy about the issues confronting Aboriginal people.

Rail workers will stop work for 24 hours on January 29 to push management to negotiate a fair enterprise agreement. The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said on January 16 that the government and management had left them no choice but to take this kind of action.

A coalition of anti-tollway groups has called for a mass rally early next year to bring together communities fighting against the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway and other disastrous road projects being pushed by the NSW Coalition government. The rally is planned for February 17 at 2pm.

The humiliating about-face forced on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when he announced a royal commission into the banking and financial sectors on November 30 could be the beginning of the end for the Coalition government.

The publication of NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon’s new pamphlet, Sold off, sold out: the disaster of privatisation and how to reclaim our common wealth, is timely.

With the federal government now supporting a royal commission into the banks and widespread controversy over national energy policy, the damaging consequences of privatising many of the country’s formerly publicly owned industries is clear for all to see.

Momentum for a new super-union has accelerated with a strong vote by members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) in favour of amalgamating with the giant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). Both unions reported an overwhelming Yes vote.

The MUA vote was 87% in favour, with 50% of members participating. This involvement is higher than past internal MUA elections for union officers.

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