On April 28, up to 8000 people marched in Auckland against the threatened sell-off of public assets by New Zealand National Party Prime Minister John Key. A few days earlier, a Hikoi (walk) began from Cape Reinga in the far north of New Zealand's north island, headed for the capital, Wellington. Arriving in Auckland in time to coincide with the event, participants in the Hikoi marched from Victoria Park to Britomart, where they met up with the assembling protest. The crowd then made its way up Queen Street to Aotearoa Square.
Activists have been campaigning to prevent the removal of public housing in the Auckland suburb of Glenn Innes since April 2. Many Tenants who have lived in the homes for decades have been evicted. Contractors are preparing to remove the homes for a new housing development. The development will reduce public housing, and evicted tenants have not gotten any guarantees of a right to return. Tenants, local community members and activists in the Mana Party organised to try to stop the removals,. They have peacefully blockaded and occupied the empty houses in protest.
A series of protests, or Hikoi, will take place across New Zealand from April 24 to May 10, under the banner “Aotearoa Not For Sale”. The demonstrations are being organised against the pro-privatisation, pro-mining and anti-social agenda of the National Party government, led by Prime Minister John Key. The Hikoi will kick off at the top of New Zealand's north island at Cape Reinga on April 24.
About 120 unionists and supporters rallied outside the New Zealand Consulate in Sydney on March 19 in solidarity with 292 Auckland wharfies who were sacked for being members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand. The rally was organised by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). It called on the NZ government to pressure the Auckland Council, which owns Auckland port, to immediately reinstate the workers.
The House of Representatives narrowly passed changes on February 16 to the undemocratic building industry laws that target building workers. The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill, which will replace the Building Industry Improvement Act, was narrowly adopted by a margin of one vote. The bill is now before the Senate.
Len Cooper, the secretary of the Victorian Telecommunications Division of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union, wrote to Victorian unions last August inviting them to take part in a discussion “aimed at leading to the formation of a campaign on the right to strike”. The Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) endorsed the campaign as a sub-committee of the hall on February 10. It committed to back a motion on the right to strike at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) national congress, which takes place in Sydney in May.
Industry groups, building industry spokespeople and opposition politicians have made full use of the Senate inquiry into proposed laws to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). They’ve claimed that the Gillard government’s proposed changes will turn the laws against construction workers into a “toothless tiger”.
The strengthening links between unions and the US Occupy movement will be expressed in mobilisations across the US on November 17. N17 has been called as a national day of action for Occupy and the labour movement, and a range of protest actions and stay-aways will take place across the country. It will also mark the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Union links to the Occupy movement in Australia are still in their early days. However, the US example shows that there is much common cause to be found.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce grounded all Qantas aircraft, locked out Qantas workers, and disrupted the travel plans of thousands of passengers, including visiting heads of state, on October 29. The lock-out sparked a successful application by workplace relations minister Chris Evans to Fair Work Australia to end the lockout and stop industrial action by Qantas unions. Fair Work Australia handed Joyce an effective weapon against the unions — the termination of legal, protected industrial action that members of the unions had voted for.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is in line for a salary increase of 71% at the airline’s upcoming annual general meeting, but Qantas staff continue to battle the company for job security and decent pay. The proposed increase will bring Joyce's annual salary package to $5 million.