Matt Hrkac

Hundreds of union members and supporters made the trek to the ExxonMobil (ESSO)/UGL Longford Gasworks on June 28 to mark the first anniversary of an ongoing industrial dispute.

Unionists from across the state attended. There were contingents from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union and the Australian Workers Union — the three main unions in the dispute.

The Victorian Socialists’ campaign to get Stephen Jolly elected to the Victorian Legislative Council ramped up on June 17, as nearly 100 people blitzed the Richmond electoral district in the party’s first major doorknock of its campaign.

Activists, including candidates Jolly, Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton and Socialist Alternative’s Colleen Bolger, braved the rain, wind and frigid temperatures to knock on more than 2000 doors. The response received was mostly warm and positive.

A contingent of Victorian Socialist members at a union rally

Clearing its first major hurdle in emphatic fashion, the Victorian Socialists gained registration as a political party in Victoria for the November 28 state election.

For a party to be registered in Victoria, a minimum of 500 people must confirm with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) that they are members of that party.

In an email sent out to party supporters, Victorian Socialists secretary Corey Oakley thanked the members who returned their letters to the VEC confirming their membership. The VEC confirmed the party’s successful registration on June 6.

The Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) held its state conference over the weekend of May 26 and 27.

The conference was held amid rising tensions within the Victorian ALP; with several prominent unions including the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Maritime and Energy Union (CFMMEU) splitting from the Socialist Left to form the new “Centre Unity and Industrial Left Alliance” faction with a number of right-wing unions including the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

The formation of Victorian Socialists is continuing to generate excitement among progressives in Victoria, with about 600 people attending the election campaign launch in Collingwood on May 12.

Organisers anticipated about 300 people would attend, but the venue was soon filled to capacity and about 200 people were relocated to the building’s basement. The three candidates and other speakers had to give their speeches twice!

More than 50 people attended the annual May Day Dinner held in Geelong on May 5. Speakers at the dinner included Maritime Union of Australia women’s liaison officer Mich-Elle Myers and Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association secretary Craig McGregor. Former Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC) Tim Gooden also gave a toast to Green Left Weekly.

Green Left Weekly asked Myers and McGregor, as well as current GTHC secretary Colin Vernon, why it is important to celebrate May Day.

In the biggest union mobilisation in Australia in more than a decade, up to 120,000 unionists and supporters descended on the streets of Melbourne on May 9.

The protest was organised as part of the Change the Rules campaign. The rally followed a mass delegates meeting in April and was the conclusion of nearly a fortnight of union actions across the country to launch the campaign.

Thousands of people took part in Melbourne's May Day march as part of the Change the Rules campagin.

On the steps of Victorian Trades Hall, on the morning of April 27, the deaths of 26 workers in Victoria over the past year were remembered in a moving service for International Workers’ Memorial Day.

The official statistics provided by WorkSafe do not take into account workers killed by occupational disease, in accidents in transit or people working on their own. Considering this, unions estimate that more than 200 workers were killed in Victoria over the past year in relation to their work.

The November Victorian state election is fast approaching and candidates are being preselected by all of the main parties.

However, it is the formation of the Victorian Socialists, which consists of City of Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, City of Moreland councillor Sue Bolton and lawyer Colleen Bolger — an unlikely alliance of the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative — to contest the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council that has aroused some serious attention from the left. 

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