Sue Bolton

For the third time since the Victorian government sold off the Yallourn power station in 1996, Yallourn power workers have been locked out of their workplace. In 2000, the workers were locked out for seven weeks.

Yallourn power station’s owner, Energy Australia, locked out all 75 shift operators at midday on June 21 after the workers began industrial action by limiting power output.
They are not being paid and are not accruing any leave or service. Even operators who were on holidays or sick leave have had their pay stopped. The company has locked the workers out indefinitely.

Kuwaiti-born doctor Ghaleb Jaber is prepared to follow in the footsteps of overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) who went on hunger strike in 1997 in Sydney and Melbourne to fight for their rights.

Jaber set up the Overseas Trained Doctors Network of Victoria five years ago. This network is organising a conference on July 26 to raise the issues facing overseas-trained doctors in the lead up to the federal election.

“We want them to listen to us this time,” Jaber told Green Left Weekly.

Former US marine and anti-war activist Vincent Emanuele is making his second speaking tour of Australia during June and July. A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Emanuele is speaking to audiences about the US military machine.

At a meeting in Melbourne where Emanuele spoke on July 4, the film On the Bridge was also screened. The film is a series of interviews with Iraq war veterans opposed to the war, including Emanuele.

One thousand firefighters from around Victoria descended on parliament house on July 1 to protest Premier Denis Napthine’s cuts to the fire services budget.

United Firefighters Union (UFU) state secretary Peter Marshall said that as of July 1, the Napthine government’s fire services levy collection will increase “from $322 million [in 2009] to $654 million [last year].

“The government is collecting more, but it is putting $157 million of the fire services levy in a bank account to help the government’s coffers”.

The Hazara community in Melbourne have been forced to hold another vigil after yet another bombing targeting the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan.

On June 30, a suicide bomber attacked a Hazara neighbourhood and killed more than 30 people, including children.

More than 1300 Hazaras have been killed in Pakistan over the past decade, with more than 4000 maimed, according to the Australian Hazara Students Group. Not a single perpetrator has been punished by the courts for these bombings which have become more frequent over the last three years.

About 90 people gathered in the Coburg library on June 6 to oppose the Moreland Council’s plans for a mini-CBD in the central Coburg shopping centre.

The meeting was organised by the Save Coburg Residents Network which formed in January to oppose the council’s C123 planning amendment. Most residents only discovered the plans a couple of weeks before the deadline for public submissions.

The plan includes a row of 10-storey buildings along both sides of Bell St on the western entrance to the shopping centre and 10-storey buildings along one side of Sydney Road to the north.

Australian politicians often describe India as “the world’s biggest democracy”. The reality is somewhat different.

I found this out when I attended the ninth congress of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML) from April 2-7. Two CPI-ML members were killed in the lead-up to the congress.

Moreland Council is proposing to install more CCTV cameras in response to concerns about safety after the murder of Jill Meagher last year.

The expansion of CCTV cameras, already a civil liberties concern, would do little to make women safer on the streets at night.

After two community meetings on public housing estates and the start of legal action, the Department of Housing has partially backed down from its ban on politics in public housing estates.

Just three days after a March 24 rally on the Atherton Gardens public housing estate in Fitzroy, the Department of Human Services released a policy banning political meetings and door-knocking on public housing estates.

Construction unions have announced they will make a submission to the Victorian Coalition government that will call for unused government-owned sites in inner-city Melbourne to be used for public housing.

Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union state secretary John Setka told the Age on April 22 that the proposal would cut the public housing waiting list and provide jobs for unemployed construction workers.

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