705

Green Left Weekly is taking a short break. The next issue will be dated April 18.
According to Prensa Latina on March 24, Venezuela has replaced some 45 million incandescent light bulbs with white light thrifty bulbs, benefiting more than 4 million households. The move is part of an energy saving program, the Energy Revolution Mission. More than 3000 activists have been involved in carrying out the bub changes, and are aiming to replace about 54 million in total. The mission is also expanding renewable energy sources such as solar and wind and beginning to replace petrol with gas to supply cars. Prensa Latina points out that while Venezuela is the fifth-largest exporter of hydrocarbons, it is encouraging the use of less contaminating energy sources.
Following a decision by Fiji’s interim government to cut public servants’ pay by 5% and reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55 years, a range of unions have conducted ballots for strike action. The Fiji Public Service Association and the Fiji Nursing Association voted in favour of the strike and the Fiji Teachers Association will soon conclude its ballot. On March 30, more than 90% of Fiji Post and Telecommunication Employees Association members voted in favour of a strike. Public Service secretary Taina Tagicakibau claims the government’s decision is non-negotiable and that any strike action would be illegal and result in job losses. The military has also threatened to intervene if the strike goes ahead.
SYDNEY — On March 31, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s Sydney committee annual general meeting forged plans for expanding the campaign to invite Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez to tour Australia this year — an antidote to US President George Bush’s scheduled September visit. Guest speaker Venezuelan charge d’affaires Nelson Davila underscored the popular changes transforming Venezuela out of poverty and towards socialism. The meeting also decided to embark on monthly films, forums or street actions in support of Venezuela to build momentum towards the Latin American and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum being held in Melbourne this October. To get involved phone Kiraz on (02) 9690 1977.
The CFMEU ACT Rank and File Action Group met on March 14 to discuss the state of the ACT branch of the union. Reports were presented about the CFMEU federal office investigation of the branch, the group’s campaign for a clean and strong union that is accountable to its members and the state of industrial organising in the ACT.
Greenpeace has revealed that an independent report into safety testing by genetic engineering giant Monsanto was ignored in the lead-up to a vote on whether the company’s new genetically engineered maize would be approved for consumption in the European Union.
Around 120 people rallied outside Liberal MP for Deakin Phil Barresi’s electoral office in Mitcham, Melbourne, on March 27, the anniversary of the proclamation of the federal Coalition government’s unpopular and destructive industrial relations laws. The lunchtime protest and barbecue were organised by the Deakin community and Your Rights at Work campaign group, which has been raising awareness and campaigning in the area against the anti-worker laws.
A hunger strike of 35 detainees in the Villawood immigration detention centre was initiated on March 28, sparked by the actions of Global Solutions Ltd (GSL) guards under the instructions of the immigration department. GSL guards snatched a Chinese woman from her bed in LIMA, the single women’s compound at Villawood. Dressed only in her pyjamas, she was dragged screaming from the compound and was deported only hours later.
The NSW Minerals Council has backed away from legal action against Rising Tide, a community group campaigning against the expansion of the coal export industry in the Hunter region.
On March 23, hundreds of thousands of people from all over India converged in Delhi to express their anger at the killing of peasant protesters on March 14 by police and thugs aligned with the West Bengal Left Front (LF) government. Those killed were resisting eviction from their land in Nandigram. Similar killings also happened on January 7. The mass rally was preceded by two days of cultural protests.
The major parties’ “green” credentials were again put to the test on March 22 when Greens Senator Christine Milne introduced Australia’s first climate change bill. Despite some high profile backing for the bill — which attempted to set legally binding targets for cuts to greenhouse gases — the major parties refused to support it, giving the lie to their concern about climate change.
Munya Gwisai, a member of the national coordinating committee of the International Socialist Organisation (Zimbabwe) as well as the deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Social Forum considers issues facing the democratic movement. He writes in a personal capacity.