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Green Left Weekly asked unionists why they are in a union and what unions mean to them.

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I happily admit that I will take any opportunity to parade down the street waving a red flag, and the May Day march in Hamilton on Sunday will be one of those opportunities.

Since the 1850s, when the first workers’ associations were formed in the Hunter, trade unionists and their families have put their demands forward on occasions such as May Day.

In a major victory for the Palestinian rights movement on US college campuses, students at Barnard College in New York City voted nearly two-thirds in favour of a referendum supporting divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s human rights violations, writes Nora Barrows-Friedman.

Concerns over the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the Hindu nationalist BJP government continuing in power into the indefinite future were partially allayed by the December elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. 

Modi was Gujarat’s longest ruling chief minister and used his “Gujarat model” as the vehicle of his rise to power. This model was based on large-scale handouts of land, public assets and subsidies to corporate houses in return for media hype and enthusiastic endorsement by an increasingly shrill, intolerant and hectoring corporate media.

The United Nations has declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day. But one place where there is still no press freedom is Indonesian-occupied West Papua.

Local journalists are arrested and tortured. Foreign journalists are not allowed in, or strictly monitored. Even international websites supporting West Papuan independence are hacked, and shut down. 

About 500 members of the Health Services Union (HSU), United Voice, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and other unions gathered in Hyde Park on April 19 to "Rally for Respect: Time to Care for Aged Care."

Speakers represented the various health sector unions, as well as UnionsNSW, and Labor federal and state politicians.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government has cut billions of dollars from the aged care sector. This has had an enormous impact on the lives of older Australians in care, their families and those who care for them.

For more than 20 years, locals on the NSW Central Coast have been fighting a proposed coalmine in the Dooralong and Yarramalong valleys near Wyong.

The area is an important part of the drinking water catchment for more than 300,000 people, and the proposed Wallarah 2 longwall coalmine threatens to take millions of litres of water each year out of the catchment and pollute local waterways.

In a major win for workers’ rights, workers at a United States fast-food chain, Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, have overwhelmingly voted for a federally-recognised union. This will make it the first fast food union in the country.

“Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the the only formally recognized fast food union in the country,” the Burgerville Workers Union, said on its Facebook page after the vote on April 23.

 

Former staff and United Voice union members protested outside Barry cafe in Northcote’s trendy High Street shopping strip on April 23 after workers said they were sacked for asking to be paid award wages.

The staff say they were paid $18 an hour and no penalty rates for weekends or public holidays. Under the award, the minimum rate should have been $23.51 for weekday shifts and $29.30 for weekends.

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