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The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network national consultation decided to support the relaunch of an Australian campaign in support of the “Cuban Five” - five Cubans convicted in the United States in 2001 on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to endangering the security of the US. The Cuban Five are being held in maximum security prisons across the US.
ACT government ACTION bus drivers held a snap strike on September 20 to protest against service cutbacks that would reduce some drivers’ extra shifts and pay. The action was taken following the failure of negotiations with the ACT government’s municipal services department and despite a Transport Workers Union warning that the strike would be illegal and could result in fines of $4000 for each worker.
The rising tide of enthusiasm for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is reaching Australia. This was seen at the Fourth National Latin American Solidarity Conference held in Sydney on September 29, the biggest such solidarity gathering in over a decade.
Workers at the Tronics factory in Thomastown voted to return to work on October 6 after management agreed to an 11.5% pay rise over three years, maintenance of existing conditions and an acceptable disputes-settling procedure. During the preceding three weeks the workers had taken strike action for a total of eight full days and three half days.
MELBOURNE — On October 5, 80 people from a range of trade unions protested outside the new Australian Industrial Relations Commission headquarters in Exhibition Street. The opening was attended by federal workplace relations minister Kevin Andrews. Protest organiser Dave Kerin from Union Solidarity told the rally that workers will fight the Howard government’s unfair laws all the way, and that bad laws needed to be broken.
A gay rights rally was held at Newcastle University on September 27 as part of gay pride week. The 40 protesters demanded an end to all laws that discriminate against queers, and equality for all regardless of sexuality.
Fed up with Australia Post’s cuts to country jobs and services, country postal workers and supporters protested outside Australia Post’s Melbourne headquarters on October 6.
On September 23, the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society and Green Left Weekly held a public screening of Power of Community — How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. Around 90 people attended.
Academics may be given limited access to books banned under anti-terrorism laws, federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock said on October 2. His comments came after University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis wrote to Ruddock seeking clarification on the laws.
On September 23, Jayme Magana, a young activist in El Salvador’s Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, addressed a community meeting about the oppressive conditions in El Salvador. A short documentary by Salvador Castro about political struggles in the country was also shown.
Members of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) will have a choice in this month’s union elections. The current leadership is being challenged by the Teachers Alliance.
Around 250 people gathered on September 23 to voice their anger at the ongoing occupation of Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon by the imperialist “coalition of the killing”. A letter to the crowd on behalf of Jack Thomas’s family said: “If Jack had not been targeted it would be someone else. This is why solidarity with the Muslim community is so important right now.” The rally marched to Trades Hall, where a fundraiser for Doctors for Iraq and Human Appeal International was held later that afternoon.