The committee campaigning against the proposal to establish a Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek met on May 12 at Blacktown Council Chambers to discuss their plans to oppose the new airport. It decided to begin an extensive education campaign, involving leafleting western Sydney, taking the issue to local schools where pupils will experience disruption and letter box drops.
On August 19, the refugee rights group People Just Like Us hosted another in its series of meetings in Parramatta Library. Speakers included Sayid Kasim, a Rohingya from Arkan and Salmore, a Rohingya from Myanmar who told their stories of fleeing for their lives. Rohingya are stateless people, victims of racism and genocide. Dhugel, from Bhutan, told of his escape via India to Nepal. Paul Power from the Refugee Council of Australia told the meeting that governments should listen to refugees when making policy. “They are not a threat to our values”, he said.
Over 200 people attended a memorial for Rex Munn, the “singing socialist” and Labour movement legend, at the Waterside Workers' Hall in Port Adelaide on November 28. Rex, who died a week earlier aged 84, worked as a wharfie in Port Adelaide for 36 years before retiring in 1987. He described the work as “dirty, dusty and dangerous”.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions unanimously passed a motion supporting self-determination for the people of Western Sahara at its national congress over May 15-17. The motion also called for the Australian government to push local companies to “end the importation of phosphate”, which is plundered from Western Sahara by Morocco. Saharawi human rights activist Malak Amidane spoke at a public forum in Sydney on May 17 as part of a national speaking tour, organised by the Australia Western Sahara Association and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
The national and state elections results for the Rail Tram and Bus union (RTBU) have been partially counted. In New South Wales, the incumbent right-wing Labor leadership team, called Unity, was challenged by Members Voice, a broad united front of those who advocate increased funding and staffing, and a clear strategy to reverse privatisation. This was the first challenge to the incumbents since the 1980s.
Elections in the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are being held throughout Australia in the National and State branches in February. There are two main tickets contesting the national and NSW elections. In NSW, the incumbent right-wing Labor leadership team is called Unity. It has failed to defend conditions and jobs against the unpopular Labor government's cuts and privatisations. The Members Voice (MV) ticket is a broad united front of those who oppose the current leadership and advocate increased funding and staffing, and a clear strategy to reverse privatisation.
On August 11, the NSW Combined Unions Campaign Committee (CUCC) — which consists of 80 rank-and-file delegates of the combined rail unions, called off a planned strike on election eve, August 20. Delegates were divided over the decision. The CUCC was discussing how to respond to Railcorp’s latest offer, which, the August 25 rail union bulletin reported, had three elements: “• A four year agreement ,to protect our jobs and entitlements should we be faced with a new State Government following next year’s State election, with guarantees for no forced redundancies;
In New South Wales, 96.3% of rail workers have voted in favour of strike action to further their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement. The combined unions campaign committee notified Railcorp this would take the form of a fare-free day involving station staff and transport officers. Strikes at maintenance depots and workshops are planned at Hornsby, Flemington, Mortdale, Sydenham and Eveleigh for all Rail, Tram and Bus Union members on August 5 from 10am-2pm. All RTBU office workers at Burwood and Granville will strike the same day from 11am-1pm.
On July 24, the NSW Combined Rail Unions announced they had successfully applied to take industrial action for their enterprise bargaining agreement in 2010. Of key concern to the unions are safety and service levels, which have declined because of a RailCorp staff review that has cut staff at many stations. The CCTV system, a costly and inadequate method of security for train stations, is set to have its staff numbers cut — further endangering commuters and staff.
The combined rail unions in NSW have called statewide members’ meetings from April 19 to discuss the 2010 Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.