Sue Bull

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos-related disease in the world. Asbestos kills and goes on killing for generations. The Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates that by 2020, 30,000 to 40,000 people in Australia will have contracted an asbestos-related cancer.

The three crises facing capitalism — jobs, the environment and war— were the subject of Victoria's Socialist Alliance conference on June 27.

When Pivot Fertilizer announced its closure in May, it became the latest in a long, list of Geelong-based manufacturers to close their doors.

Socialist Alliance candidates for local council elections in Geelong and Queenscliffe in late November are calling for “climate action councils” that will stand up against polluting industries and big developers.

Noel Washington, vice-president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian branch, has been charged by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner with new offences under the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has finalised the first agreement in a new round of collective bargaining in universities. The University of Ballarat agreement gives a 10.9% pay increase over 15 months.

With the impact of global warming already being felt, it can be hard to feel positive about the future. However, an August 2 “climate justice” seminar at Melbourne University provided some positive directions for the 140 people who attended.

As news headlines report riots and food shortages in Third World nations, during March and April more than 5000 people on Australia’s eastern seaboard were able to hear the inspiring story of Cuba’s survival when faced with starvation and its transition to ecological sustainability.

A February 12-14 “national bargaining forum” of lead negotiators for the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) set a determined course for industrial and political campaigning over the next three years. Key outcomes include an aggressive bargaining strategy and a linked public policy campaign that will be both national and grassroots.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s class action around AWAs against the University of Ballarat has ended with an out-of-court settlement. The action commenced early in 2006 out of a long-running dispute over enterprise bargaining. As Green Left Weekly reported at the time, the university offered AWAs (individual contracts) to break the NTEU’s bargaining position. A strong campaign by the union resulted in a collective agreement in August 2006.

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