As news headlines report riots and food shortages in Third World nations, during March and April more than 5000 people on Australias eastern seaboard were able to hear the inspiring story of Cubas 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 Unions 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 NTEUs bargaining position. A strong campaign by the union resulted in a collective agreement in August 2006.
Twenty-one years ago Jackie Kriz, an Australian Nurses Federation job representative, took part in Victorias landmark nurses dispute of 1986. As a young Geelong nurse she remembers the long campaign where nurses went from being professionals who would never strike to industrial campaigners.
With the city of Geelong still reeling from Ford’s announcement that by 2010 it will shut down its V6 engine assembly plant and dismiss 600 workers of the company’s 2600 Geelong employees, another manufacturer has announced that it is reviewing its operations.
Fords decision to close down its Geelong engine plant will have a catastrophic effect on the town. Its not just the 600 jobs at Ford that will be lost; hundreds of jobs will probably also be lost in the car components factories and various supply companies. This flow-on could mean up to 2400 more unemployed workers in Geelong.
Activists gathered on March 22 to discuss the campaign to free David Hicks. The meeting, called by the Geelong Anti-War Coalition, was chaired by Socialist Alliance member Bronwyn Jennings and heard from Amnesty International, the Greens and Civil Rights Defence (CRD).
The vice-president of Geelong Trades Hall, Christine Couzens, has been awarded the Jenny George Award for the advancement of women in unions. Couzens was presented with the award by Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow on March 7.
On March 2, the day that Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks was finally charged, activists in Geelong led a shackled and hooded figure through the city streets chanting “Free David Hicks!”
Union Solidarity-led community picketers halted the construction of the Otway gas plant for a day on October 20. The picketers came from Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland to support the workers at the site.
For two years, construction at the site has proceeded without a single day of industrial action. In June, a site agreement was negotiated between unions and the construction company, Technip.