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A report released on May 14 by the Federation of Community Legal Centres of Victoria, accused police of using excessive and unwarranted force against protesters and bystanders during the November 17-19 G20 summit in Melbourne of international finance ministers.
On May 12, 60 people marked the anniversary of the deaths in 1981 of 10 Irish republican hunger strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, who were fighting for their right to be recognised and treated as political prisoners. The commemoration, held at the Gaelic Club, was organised by the Sydney Cairde (Friends of) Sinn Fein group.
In 2001, more than 30 workers over 50 years of age were suddenly given 24-hour termination notices by their employer, Guppy Plastic Industries Sdn Bhd. The workers were then told they could return later when they would be offered contract jobs. The chairperson of the workers’ union described the move as a dirty tactic to make the women contract workers, to further maximise the company’s profits at the expense of the workers. The 50-year retirement age for women workers is below the normal standard and is different to the company’s retirement policy for male workers. On May 15, nine of the sacked workers took the case to the industrial court, seeking back pay, compensation for loss of income and redundancy payments.
The presence of heavily armed SAS troops could complement extraordinary powers for NSW police during the September 7-9 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney, which will be attended by 21 international leaders including US President George Bush.
Less than two days after its launch, more than 100 people had signed an “online pledge” to take part in peaceful direct action against the construction of a third coal export terminal at Newcastle’s port. The pledge notes that the terminal would increase Newcastle’s coal exports by “66 million tonnes per annum, producing 160 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution”.
Thousands of Palestinians joined rallies on May 15 throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories to mark the 59th anniversary of al Nakba (“The Catastrophe”) — the establishment of the State of Israel and the consequent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes — as renewed fighting took place between Fatah and Hamas.
On May 12, federal opposition leader Kevin Rudd chartered a private plane to fly to Western Australia to meet with BHP, Rio Tinto and Woodside bosses. The meeting followed two weeks of the mining bosses arguing that Labor’s promise to abolish AWAs (individual contracts), confirmed at its April national conference, would harm the resources boom and lower productivity in the mining sector.
Activists from climate-action groups, environment collectives at the University of Queensland and Griffith University, Friends of the Earth, the Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance, Resistance and the Socialist Alliance are coming together to organise a “Stop Global Warming” rally in the week of World Environment Day (June 5).
As of 2004, foreign capital controlled 76.6% of Chinese industry, a study produced by academics from Beijing’s Communication University has found. The findings of the report, which was released in March, are consistent with a November 2006 report by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China’s cabinet.
A group of construction workers in Somerton have proved that it is possible to get off an individual contract (Australian Workplace Agreement — AWA) and onto award rates and an enterprise agreement.
The Wilderness Society (TWS) has taken Malcolm Turnbull, the federal environment minister, and logging giant Gunns Ltd to court in an attempt to stop a pulp mill being built in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.
A new vaccine against the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that causes most incidents of cervical cancer, is being opposed by religious conservatives in the US who claim it will “encourage promiscuity” in young women. According to Newscientist.com, half of all sexually active women in the US between the ages of 18 and 22 are infected with HPV and some of these cases go on to develop into cancer later in life. After successful trials of the vaccine, the US Centers for Disease Control and Protection recommended vaccination of all 11-12 year-olds. But so far only Virginia has passed a law requiring vaccination and West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and New Mexico have rejected the program. In Texas, the Senate overturned the governor’s order for the program to be introduced in that state.
The shambles of the Airline Partners Australia (APA) private equity takeover attempt for Qantas demonstrates the greed and rapaciousness of this rotten capitalist system. All parties involved in the grubby business have shown up the irrationality of capitalism.
The Queensland University of Technology says it has yet to decide the future of its humanities and human services school. The comments came after a meeting of QUT academic board, outside which 100 students rallied for almost four hours on May 16 before pursuing an agitated QUT vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake across campus.
A new report by leading health experts on behalf of the Municipal Services Project, The Problem of Handwashing and Paying for Water, found that pre-paid water metres have a negative effect on household hygiene, with insufficient handwashing increasing the risk of water-borne diseases and other health problems in poor communities. The report argued: “In a country where poverty is rife, where there is soaring unemployment, where there is a massive housing backlog, and where hunger is a daily reality, it is unrealistic to expect poor people to purchase, in advance, a basic good such as water.” The findings give weight to the legal challenge launched in the High Court in July 2006 by a coalition collection of community organisations and NGOs opposing current water policies — and Soweto residents, which is demanding that Johannesburg Water’s unilateral decision to impose the pre-paid meters be declared unconstitutional and illegal.
Since the ALP national conference in April, the big companies have had the ear of the Liberal and Labor parties about what sort of changes should be made to Australia’s industrial relations laws. The voice of workers and their unions have not been heard.

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