Sue Bolton

The Fair Work ombudsman began legal action on May 19 against a 7-Eleven store operator in Geelong who owed hundreds of hours in unpaid wages to four workers. The decision came after a two-year campaign by the Unite union, which organises workers in part-time and casual work. The ombudsman alleges that four workers were owed a total of $85,408 for work over 2005-09. One worker alone was underpaid $40,583.
Hundreds of Tamils turned out in Sydney’s Martin Place on May 18 to mark the first anniversary of the Sri Lankan army’s capture of the last bit of land held by the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the north-east of the country. In driving rain, families lined up to place petals in front of a statue of a grieving mother. They heard from community speakers, the Greens, the Council for Civil Liberties (CCL) and the Socialist Alliance.
On May 8, 70 people from local groups joined with Socialist Alliance to march through Brunswick’s Barkly Square shopping centre, demanding management allow community stalls, including those held by the Socialist Alliance, to resume. Protesters had a replica of the original cage that radical artist and Communist Party of Australia member Noel Counihan spoke from in the 1933 free speech battles in Brunswick. A speak-out was held in the shopping centre, defying police and security guards.
On May 6, women gathered in Melbourne dressed in pyjamas and hair curlers, ready for the Mothers’ Day breakfast in bed that they never get because of poverty and the stress of being a single parent. The action was to call for an end to poverty for single mothers. Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC) project worker Kerry Davies told the protesters that “single mothers and their children are Australia’s poorest families and are now the single highest group of homeless people in this country”.
MELBOURNE — At a mass meeting and protest rally outside Telstra’s main shop in Melbourne on May 5, Telstra workers voted unanimously to continue their campaign of strikes, bans and other disruptions, aimed at winning a new enterprise agreement and defeating Telstra’s attempts to discriminate against its unionised workers. Marching through the Melbourne CBD, the workers, who are members of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) communications division, demanded equal pay with the non-union workers in Telstra.
In a turbulent meeting on April 20, City of Yarra councillors voted to reinstate a ban on public drinking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The motion was passed by a coalition of Labor councillors and independents, five votes to four. The votes against were from the Socialist Party councillor and three Greens. It overturned a March decision to lift the drinking ban during daylight hours. The ban, known as Local Law 8, was passed in October and implemented in December.
Twelve groups supporting refugee rights met on April 10 to discuss the possibility of joint actions.
Prominent Iranian left-wing activist Jamal Saberi (Jalal Amanzadeh Nouei) is facing deportation to Iran from Japan, despite having lived there for 18 years, being married to a Japanese woman and having a child there.
The National Trust, Planning Backlash and Protectors of Public Lands Victoria joined forces to rally against the redevelopment of the historic Windsor Hotel, which is located in the parliamentary precinct.
On March 16, Yarra City Council amended the racist Local Law 8, which bans drinking in public places. The law was originally passed on October 20 with the ALP, Greens and independent councillors voting for it. Socialist Party councillor Stephen Jolly was the only councillor to oppose the law.
After being confronted by protests in New Zealand, Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was met by a protest organised by Australians For Palestine at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 19.
Since 2006, a group of activists in Melbourne have gathered on January 20 to commemorate two Aboriginal freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, who were hanged on that day in 1842.