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Refugee-rights groups have accused immigration department and GSL management at the Villawood detention centre of collective punishment of detainees in the aftermath of two detainees escaping on the evening of April 19.

Civil rights and anti-war activists rallied around Australia on April 21 to demand immediate freedom for David Hicks and the closure of the US’s military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

A community protest organised by Union Solidarity shut down the construction site at Woodside’s Otways gas plant near Port Campbell on April 17.

Around 1000 workers rallied in Musgrave Park on April 20 to oppose the Howard government’s Work Choices legislation, under the theme “Time’s Up”.

The eight-day trial against seven people facing charges relating to a February 2006 protest against Kerry Packer’s taxpayer-funded state memorial has concluded with the dismissal of one or more charges against each defendant. Four defendants decided to plead guilty to one minor charge each.

The Golden Triangle Community Crisis Committee (GOLCCOM), a community-based organisation in the south of Johannesburg, has been leading a struggle since the beginning of the year for access to basic housing in the Freedom Park informal settlement. A March 15 community march called for the right to land, housing, water, electricity and education, but the council has still not responded to these demands. In early April, another peaceful protest was held at which police randomly shot protesters and arrested 14 people, who were later released under pressure from the community and supporting organisations. One of those shot, Simon Mkupe, lost his right and GOLCCOM plans to take legal action in response. For more information, email Thabang Makhele at <thamihukwe@toughguy.net>.

new front in the battle against the Howard government’s anti-union laws has opened with a push by federal workplace relations minister Joe Hockey for local councils to sign their employees up to the new Work Choices legislation.

Less than two weeks after resigning to protest against substandard wages and conditions, construction workers at the Coles-Myer distribution centre in Somerton have secured a collective agreement with construction industry-standard wages and conditions. Coles re-opened negotiations with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union soon after community activists organised by Union Solidarity blockaded the centre’s gates on April 13. The workers had been employed as casuals on individual contracts with wages approximately $10 per hour below industry standards.

Workers at Wangaratta fabric manufacturer Bruck Textiles defeated a second attempt by management to implement a non-union agreement in votes held on April 19 and 20. Bruck tried to entice workers to sign its sub-standard non-union agreement with a 3% annual pay increase that wouldn’t even keep up with inflation.

Green Left Weekly will be taking a one-week break. Out next issue will be dated May 9.

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