The federal government has published a proposed law to restrict the rights of firefighters and other emergency service workers. The new law will amend the Fair Work Act to ban enterprise agreements covering workers employed by a “designated emergency management body” from containing “objectionable” terms — including requirements for management to consult with the relevant union.
Last month I read an article that first appeared in the Huffington Post titled "X Marks the Spot Where Inequality Took Root: Dig Here". It explains how real wages in the US shadowed growth in productivity in the years after World War II. But in the mid-1970s wages growth completely stalled. If wages had continued to shadow productivity growth they would now be double what they are today. This explains a lot about contemporary US society: all the gains of increased productivity have been absorbed by the rich.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Australian Maritime Officer's Union (AMOU) have hailed a High Court victory that will protect local jobs on offshore oil and gas projects and curb the exploitation of foreign workers. The High Court unanimously ruled on August 31 against the federal government's decision to exempt workers on vessels in the offshore oil and gas industry from visa requirements. The unions argued that the exemptions provided an incentive for companies to hire foreigners on lower wages and undercut safety standards and conditions.
The Bolivian mining cooperative protests and the August 25 killing of the Bolivian Vice-Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes by cooperative miners requires us to question our assumptions about the cooperatives. Most of Bolivia’s mining cooperatives began during the Great Depression as miners banded together to work a mine in common. However, like many cooperatives in the US that arose out of the 1960s, they have turned into small businesses. Regardless of their initial intentions, cooperatives existing in a capitalist environment must compete in business practices or go under.
Australia’s first health clinic catering solely for the needs of the transgender and gender diverse community has opened. The Equinox Gender Diverse Clinic, a peer-led trans-focused clinic, is run by the Victorian AIDS Council. The clinic bulk bills, making the service accessible to the entire transgender community. Starting with a GP service, Equinox plans to expand into a counselling service later this year, and beyond that into addressing trans homelessness.
In a big development in industrial dispute involving Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) and the 55 maintenance workers it has sacked in Melbourne, the contractor at the centre of the dispute, Programmed Skilled, has broken its contract with the brewery. The 55 workers were sacked in June — then offered their jobs back with a 65% pay cut. The company brought in unskilled scab labour, with the sacked workers, backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), picketing the Abbotsford factory.
New research suggests that Tasmanian devils are evolving resistance to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), which has seen devil populations decline by between 80% and 90%. Following the extinction of the thylacine in the 1930s, devils have become the top marsupial predator, keeping numbers of feral cats at bay. With the decline of the devils, feral cats have grown in numbers and small mammals on which cats prey have declined. Scientists have identified significant changes in DNA samples of devils from regions with DFTD.
Racism is responsible for the murder of a young boy near Kalgoorlie on August 29. It is one of several recent examples that demonstrate that the sentiment behind the US #BlackLivesMatter movement is just as relevant in this country. National attention has focused on the case in large part because hundreds of people protested outside the Kalgoorlie courthouse on August 30. Windows were broken and police cars were damaged — small biscuits compared to the loss of a young boy's life.
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has launched the first of two important collaborative projects that will be of much interest to left activists and scholars internationally.
Jeremy Corbyn speaks at a rally supporting besieged Kobanê. London, October 19, 2014. Britain’s socialist Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is campaigning for re-election as party leader in the face of sustained hostility from the right wing of Labour and the corporate media.