John McGill

Thousands protest proposed nuclear waste dump

About 3000 people rallied on the steps of Parliament House on October 16 to protest against the state and federal governments’ plans to create nuclear waste dumps in South Australia.

This year the state government held the expensive — and some would say biased — Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, which found South Australia was the perfect place to store the world's high-grade nuclear waste. It has just initiated a public consultation into the general idea of storing nuclear waste, which will continue into next year.

The front page headline “Trash and treasure” on the February 16 edition of South Australia's only daily newspaper, The Advertiser, welcomed the recommendation from the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission for a nuclear waste dump in outback SA. The commission had cost a massive tax-payer funded $8 million.
On November 27, early in the morning, Jorge Castillo-Riffo was found on the scissor lift at the new Adelaide Hospital construction site. He had been crushed against a beam and died the following day. Castillo-Riffo cared about his fellow workers and was diligent about Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) at his work site. About 1400 construction workers walked off the site and did not return to work until the following Monday.
A lively protest took place outside federal MP for Wakefield Nick Champion's office in Adelaide’s Northern Suburbs on May 20. The protest was organised by Stop Income Management in Playford (SIMPla) and Single Parents Action Group (SPAG). SIMPla was founded last year in response to the introduction of income management in Playford. SPAG began in response to the Julia Gillard government cutting single parents' income by moving them off the single parent benefit to the lower Newstart allowance.
Almost daily protests have been organised by unions and community groups since the ALP state government handed down its budget on September 16. It slashed community infrastructure, cut 3743 jobs from the public service and altered the Public Services Act to do away with workers' leave loading and long service leave entitlements. The largest protest was a 10,000-strong march organised by the Public Service Association (PSA) that marched along King William Street on its way to parliament.
In a first for the post-Howard industrial relations system, the Fair Work Ombudsman has granted the National Union of Workers (NUW) the right to enter and inspect time and wage records of all workers at Adelaide’s Lilydale chicken factory. The company was investigated by ABC’s Lateline on October 21. It showed the sacking of Sudanese migrant Anyoun Mabior and the terrible conditions at the factory. These conditions included underpayment, bullying, harassment, racism and breaches of health and safety laws.
Union pressure is building against Premier Mike Rann's ALP government of South Australia. Treasurer Kevin Foley and Rann have been targeted in a campaign by trade unions against the recent state budget. A number of rallies have been called since the budget was handed down. The largest so far, on October 14, estimated at 10,000 by the Public Service Association (PSA).
Chanting “Free chickens, caged workers”, on September 24 more than 100 community members and trade unionists protested against the treatment of Sudanese immigrant Anyuon Mabior. Anyuon was sacked by Lilydale Free Range Chicken, in Wingfield, for complaining about a racist email. The National Union of Workers (NUW) has lodged an unfair dismissal claim through Fair Work Australia on Anyuon’s behalf, and will also seek a time and wages inspection.
Building worker Ark Tribe appeared before Adelaide magistrates Court for the 11th time on September 13. Several hundred people gathered outside the court to support him. Tribe faces jail for refusing to speak to the anti-union secret police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The rally was addressed by local and national trade union leaders. The highlight was Tribe's brief speech. He made it clear this was not just about him but about the right of all workers to organise.
On September 13, construction worker Ark Tribe will face Adelaide Magistrates Court yet again. He is facing six months’ jail for failing to attend an interrogation by the construction industry police — the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), created by former Howard government as part of Work Choices, but left in place by the ALP.

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