Sue Bull

Waving banners, lighting fireworks and chanting against budget cuts, millions of people in Spain were on the march in more than 80 towns on July 19.

They were responding to government decisions made on July 11 that will cut €65 billion from services over the next two years. Within 24 hours, rallies were organised by the General Union of Labour and the Workers’ Commissions.

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Spain: Rising protests reveal political crisis

Members of the Tamil community and Socialist Alliance joined Geelong Trades Hall secretary, Tim Gooden, in raising the Tamil Eelam flag over the Trades Hall on April 20.

This was the first official raising of the flag in the southern hemisphere outside of Tamil Eelam. Spokesperson for the Tamil community, Sabsh Sanmugam, described how the flag has come to represent the aspirations of many Tamils around the world in their desire to break free of oppression.

Victorian nurses crowded into Festival Hall in Melbourne on March 16 to hear their nine months of struggle had reached a successful outcome.

After what the ABC said was Victoria’s longest running industrial dispute, nurses have won 14-21% pay increases and kept their nurse-to-patient ratios in return for minor productivity offsets.

Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: “This is a bittersweet victory for nurses and midwives after an unprecedented industrial marathon with the Baillieu government to protect patient care and secure a fair pay rise."

After eight months of campaigning by Victoria’s nurses to keep staff-to-patient ratios and win a wage rise there may be a breakthrough in the dispute.

On March 7, the Ted Baillieu Coalition state government finally offered to begin new negotiations with the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) though a conciliation process overseen by Fair Work Australia.

Twice daily outside almost every Victorian public hospital there are nurses protesting and waving banners in a spirited display of defiance.

They are not being incited by their union. They are walking off the job for four hours at a time, demanding a pay rise and defending the very essence of quality public health. A brief scouring of social media or talkback radio shows that Victorians love nurses, despite government propaganda to the contrary.

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After Victorian nurses walked off the job from six Victorian hospitals, Ted Baillieu's state government was still refusing to undertake effective negotiations with the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF).

The dispute has dragged on for eight months and has been in its current conciliation process under Fair Work Australia (FWA) for 105 days.

On February 24, the FWA ordered the ANF to stop all industrial action as sought by the government. But the ANF has said it will go ahead with its actions as decided on by members at a mass meeting on February 25.

Victorian nurses have decided to take their claims directly to the community, after negotiations with the Baillieu Victorian government over their enterprise bargaining agreement broke down yet again.

Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick told a mass meeting on December 2: “The government negotiators staged a ‘breakdown’ in negotiations last night to bait nurses and midwives into taking further industrial action that would pull the last forced arbitration trigger.

In a week that saw a huge mass meeting and a rally of 12,000 people, Fair Work Australia (FWA) has ordered Victorian nurses— for the third time — by to lift their industrial action.

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) said on November 25 it would order its members to comply with the decision. The ANF hopes that its new offer of a compromise may pave the way to fruitful negotiations with the Coalition state government.

The Victorian Baillieu government is using Fair Work Australia to step up its attacks on two unions, the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

By November 20, it had managed to get Fair Work Australia to order nurses to lift their work bans and reopen beds. It is also seeking an order to end the industrial campaign by the entire state public service, because of bans imposed by 1500 child protection workers.

Bronwyn Jennings, Geelong teacher and community campaigner, is the Socialist Alliance candidate in the Cowie ward by-election for the Geelong City Council, which is currently underway by postal vote.

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