Kerry Smith

The federal and Victorian governments announced on March 27 a two-year extension of the controversial Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) for East Gippsland, the North East and the Central Highlands. They will be reassessed at the end of the two-year period.

On the 50th anniversary of the huge May-June 1968 strive wave that brought France to the brink of revolution, workers are still fighting for their rights. This was seen clearly with the rail strikes that crippled France on April 3.

Tens of thousands of public sector workers and students, led by the National Society of French Railways’ (SNCF) staff, went on strike to protest a series of attacks on workers’ rights proposed by President Emmanuel Macron.

Members of the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) blockaded the Home Affairs Department building and the Wilson Security Car Park in Canberra on March 28.

They were protesting the treatment of refugees held in indefinite detention and at risk of being deported to danger. The activists held banners that read “Border Force Tortures Refugees”, “Deportations = Death”, “#Justice4Refugees”, “#SackDutton” and “All Refugees in Detention are Political Prisoners”.

Seven protesters who superglued their hands to a balustrade in the public gallery of Parliament House were found not guilty on March 29 of intentionally damaging Commonwealth property.

The seven were part of a Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) campaign that on November 30, 2016, disrupted Question Time in protest at the government's treatment of refugees. The parliamentary session was halted as security officers removed the protesters one by one.

 

Residents of Fitzroy’s massive Atherton Gardens public housing estate rallied and then occupied the local office of the Housing Department on March 16.

The rally was organised by the Atherton Gardens Residents Association (AGRA) and was also attended by supporters of public housing including the Victorian Socialists.

Conflict has erupted on Melbourne’s waterfront after Qube Ports applied to terminate an enterprise agreement covering its Bulk & General operation. Members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) retaliated with a snap 48-hour strike over March 17–18 and declared bans on shifts greater than seven hours and on overtime.

If Qube’s application to terminate the Melbourne agreement is successful, it would be the first time an agreement has been terminated on the nation’s wharves.

Lovers of the Murray and Darling rivers gathered outside Victorian Parliament on March 7 to call on Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville to save the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan.

Victoria's environment department has charged the government-owned logging agency VicForests over its illegal logging of rainforest buffer zones in East Gippsland. The allegations relate to a logging operation in the Serpentine Creek Rainforest Site of Significance near Cann River, which caused serious damage to protected warm temperate rainforest.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide it with security services and SecureCorp has been appointed as its long-term security services provider.

Wilson Security has provided security services for the Australian government’s detention centres on Nauru since 2012 and Manus Island during 2014–17. It is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, as many inquiries and reports have shown.

About 90 Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) members at Australian Paper’s Preston envelope factory returned to work victorious on March 6 after an eight-week strike, with most of the workers’ terms being met and the rest to be negotiated.

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