Lisa Gleeson

About 200 people attended a forum at the Wesley Centre in Geelong on July 30 to hear speakers from the community and the Labor Party discuss the federal government’s asylum seeker policy.

Speakers included federal member for Corio and opposition spokesperson on immigration Richard Marles, alongside representatives from the Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG) and Labor For Refugees.

Hundreds of mourners packed St Mary’s Cathedral on June 18 for the funeral of Leo Seemanpillai, who died on June 1 from full thickness burns to 90% of his body after setting himself on fire.

Seemanpillai was a Tamil asylum seeker who was living on a bridging visa in the Victorian town of Geelong.

Father Pancras Jordan led the service and welcomed those attending, saying: "We are gathered to say thank you and goodbye to our brother and friend, Leo Seemanpillai, who was killed by the harsh, unjust and cruel policies of our government.”

About 500 workers took to the streets of Geelong on April 7 demanding support for manufacturing jobs.

Many workers were from Ford and Alcoa, which have recently announced closures. Workers from other related industries also attended along with firefighters, nurses and teachers showing solidarity on the march.

Not all workers and unions were from blue-collar backgrounds. Clerical workers, technical staff and support services are also affected by the closures.

About 700 people attended a public forum called “We are one, but we are many: Working towards a humane refugee policy” hosted by the Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG) in Geelong on February 18.

Taking place on the same day that news broke of the appalling treatment of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and the death of one person after the compound had been attacked, the mood among the crowd was of anger and disbelief.

A picket line that lasted for two weeks at the site of a water treatment plant in Werribee has been disbanded. The Age reported that the protesters left the site on February 14 after “police and the water authority warned them they were trespassing”.

The picketers — established by unemployed tradespeople — were protesting the employment practices of Tedra Australia and its associated subcontractors.

The dispute between Little Creatures Brewery and Geelong’s workers over the use of sham contracting has continued into its fourth week. The dispute began on October 22.

Two unions have been hit with injunctions, preventing them from taking part in the protests.

A coach carrying 14 people, hired by Western Australian stainless steel making company the TFG Group, arrived on the morning of November 19. About a dozen protesters were still at the brewery gates.

As it approached, the bus sped up scattering protesters and police alike.

A community protest and picket has been set up for a second time outside the Little Creatures Brewing factory under construction in Geelong. The picket began on October 22 but was lifted after 7 days so that negotiations could take place. The talks broke down and the picket has been reimposed since November 14.

Up to 50 Geelong workers have protested every weekday about the use of “sham contracting”.

More than 5000 Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) members and delegates packed meetings at Festival Hall in Melbourne and Trades Hall in Geelong to vote on the latest Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for the building industry.

Under the agreement, wages will rise by 20% over four years with increases in superannuation contributions and other allowances. One significant feature of the agreement is that shop stewards will be recognised and be given the time and facilities they need to represent union members.

More than 300 people attended an “Experience Palestine” event organised by the Federation of Australian Muslim Students and Youth (FAMSY), at Coburg Town Hall on February 19.

They were greeted by mock Israeli “border guards” and questioned about their identity and right to enter the premises.

Once they had passed through the wood and wire “checkpoints”, visitors listened to guest speakers on Palestine and life under occupation before having a break to wander about the different exhibits.

The Cowie ward voters in Geelong have shifted their votes from Labor to conservative candidate Eddy Kontelj by a landslide in the by-election declared on March 8.

Pages

Subscribe to Lisa Gleeson