Sue Bull

More than 70 workers at Visy’s Dandenong plant voted on August 7 to maintain a peaceful picket and not return to work after an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) delegate was sacked on August 4 for organising “illegal industrial action”.

The workers, all members of the AMWU, had become increasingly angered by a series of provocative actions taken by Visy management in the weeks before the delegate was sacked.

Thousands of jobs are once against at risk in Australia's shrinking steel industry as Arrium, the company that owns the steelworks in Whyalla, South Australia, announced it was having difficulty servicing its more than $2 billion loan. The company wants the government to bail it out and that seems to be the only “solution” that the union movement and the major parties can imagine.

But will a bailout save jobs or even save what is left of the steel industry in Australia? The historical record suggests otherwise.

In all the media hype about Malcolm Turnbull's recalling of parliament in April and talk of a double dissolution election, it is easy to lose sight of the “trigger” — the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill (ABCC bill).

I recently heard an ABC Radio National commentator talking about the use of the ABCC bill as the trigger. She said words to the effect that most people would be in favour of cleaning up construction unions as only 11% of workers are in unions now. So it was considered to be a winner for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped?

Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.

Socialist Alliance members in Geelong have been victims of a vicious, post-election smear campaign. Federal police are investigating a Facebook page that called for the assassination of PM-elect Tony Abbott.

The creator of the page has not been identified, but they claimed an association with the Geelong branch of the Socialist Alliance and appeared to be posting from Geelong Trades Hall, where Socialist Alliance has its office.

A great part of being a candidate for the federal elections is that people want to talk to you. They want to tell you what’s happening in their lives and they want to let you know their opinion on lots of different issues.

Recently I was invited to address an Electrical Trades Union branch meeting in Geelong, Victoria. After I’d had my say, some members told me they agreed with me.

It was great to see all big health unions in Victoria hold a joint community rally on February 3 to protest against the state and federal governments’ slashing of health funding in Victoria. But any casual observer couldn’t help feeling that a re-elect Labor strategy was lurking.

It was true that all of the secretaries from the key health unions roundly condemned the state Coalition and federal Labor governments for the $107 million cut to be implemented by June this year. The cut will result in more than 300 beds closing, elective surgery delays and job losses in many hospitals.

If a casual observer glanced at the results for the mayoral elections in Geelong, they could be forgiven for thinking that they were a victory for apolitical and conservative politics.

The winner, Keith Fagg, comes from a local business family whose name is as close as you could get to landed gentry in Geelong. The next highest pollster’s claim to fame was that she, Stephanie Asher, had worked for BHP Billiton.

All of this in a working class town.

In 1988, then Labor Prime Minster Bob Hawke famously promised: “By the year 1990, there will be no Australian child living in poverty.”

Yet the recently released 2012 Poverty In Australia report by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) reveals that 2,265,000 people, including 575,000 children, are still living below the poverty line in Australia.

A prime opportunity for the TAFE campaign to give voice to community opposition to the TAFE cuts came on September 6. Victoria's Upper House of parliament was sitting in Bendigo and its Lower House was at the University of Ballarat.

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