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“Tear up Work Choices! Defend all our rights at work” is the title of a new petition being circulated by trade union activists around Australia. The petition calls on the ACTU and state, territory and regional labour councils to immediately call a national day of protest to demand the full repeal of Work Choices and the Workplace Relations Act. It also calls for workers’ right to take industrial action to be enshrined in Australian law.
Barry Hemsworth, a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union member and workplace delegate, was sacked unfairly from his job at Botany Cranes in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in 2006, made possible by the Howard government’s unfair dismissal laws. July 2 will mark the 300th day that Barry has held vigil outside the gates of his former employer with the support of the union movement.
The Victorian Socialist Alliance held a successful special state conference in Melbourne on June 16. Ninety people attended, with a strong presence from Geelong and Ballarat. The conference also attracted activists from environmental organisations, a range of unions and Latin America solidarity groups.
Jim McIlroy, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Brisbane seat of Griffith, called on Labor leader Kevin Rudd to condemn the Talisman Sabre war games being held at Shoalwater Bay.
Aims to make a killing "We run an absolute dictatorship and that's what's going to drive this transformation and deliver results. If you can't get the people to go there and you try once and you try twice, then you just shoot them and get them out
On June 17, 400 people marked World Refugee Day by rallying outside the Melbourne Exhibition Building and marching through Fitzroy. The new concentration camp on Christmas Island was a focus for the rally, and protesters called for all detainees on Christmas Island and Nauru, as well as in Australia’s “onshore” refugee jails, to be freed, and for temporary visas to be replaced with permanent residency. Speakers included representatives of the West Papuan and Tamil refugee communities.
Socialist Worker (SW-NZ), an organisation of revolutionary socialists in New Zealand, has sparked a new round of debate among socialists internationally over how to understand and relate to the socialist revolution in Venezuela, led by the government of President Hugo Chavez. On May 1 SW-NZ issued a statement arguing the Venezuela’s revolution is of “epochal significance”.
More than 3 million people in Vietnam are estimated to be still suffering from the devastating health effects of Agent Orange, a herbicide that the US used extensively during the Vietnam War. In 2004, these victims sued nearly 40 US chemical companies for their role in supplying the deadly chemicals, but the case was rejected by a US court. An oral presentation of the appeal by the Vietnamese victims started on June 18 in New York City. US veterans held a vigil in San Francisco on June 19 in support of the appeal. On June 15, on conclusion of a visit to Vietnam, Ricardo Alarcon, the president of Cuba’s parliament, also expressed his support for the Agent Orange victims’ appeal case.
Federal education minister Julie Bishop has announced a tender process to trial performance-based pay in schools. Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Pat Byrne described the scheme as “cash-for-grades”, and called for more federal funding for state education.
Since the Australian government’s decision to declare a “war on terror” in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US cities of New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, federal parliament has enacted no less than 26 pieces of legislation that form so-called anti-terror laws. The justifications for the laws ignore that acts such as murder, hijacking and blowing things up have never been legal. The laws’ real purpose is to criminalise political dissent and to create the impression of a “terrorist threat” to justify military aggression overseas.
In an effort to be reelected for a fifth term PM John Howard is trying to convince workers that this is as good as it gets. Looking at his favorite figures, we might be forgiven for thinking he’s right. In May, unemployment was at a historic low of 4.2% and the economy was growing at an annual rate of 3.8%. Employment grew by 39,400 that month while unemployment fell by 5500. However, these figures hide the reality that the benefits of the boom have been very unevenly shared.
On June 20, 30 people attended a public forum to launch a campaign for an August 12 national day of action for same-sex marriage rights. The NDA is being built around three slogans: “Repeal the ban on same-sex marriage”, “Give us civil unions” and “Hands off same-sex adoption”, and so far, rallies are being planned in Sydney, Melbourne, Lismore and Perth.