As preparation for APEC, the NSW Labor government made a list of every one of its tried and tested methods for suppressing dissent. Then it went away and thought up a few more! It used every measure it felt it could get away with — purchased a new water cannon, increased police powers, emptied jails — in order to intimidate people into not joining the September 8 “Stop Bush” protest.
On September 11, the Mudgee District Environment Group (MDEG) denounced the NSW Labor government’s approval of the Moolarben coalmine, 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee on the Goulburn River, as “a reckless act that shows no regard for our environment, viability of our rivers and water resources, cohesion of our rural communities or global warming”.
Workers employed by the Bruck Textiles, Australia’s largest maker of woven fabrics, at its main manufacturing plant in the Victorian town of Wangaratta have twice voted to reject management’s non-union agreements that would significantly reduce their entitlements and have instead requested the company negotiate with their union, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA).
On September 9, 300 people met in a community hall in the east Melbourne suburb of Scoresby to show their support for three Tamil community members who were arrested in May under the “anti-terror” laws.
A motion moved by Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett calling on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people was voted down in the Senate on September 10. This comes at a time when the Northern Territory intervention by the Howard Government has started to put “boots on the ground” in the NT, with few results reported from the mainstream media and serious criticism from Aboriginal and human rights groups.
“I think all these unfair tribunals and all this unfairness have to be removed”, Derek Belan, NSW state secretary of the National Union of Workers, told Green Left Weekly in response to Labor’s release of its Forward with Fairness Policy Implementation Plan in late August. “If Labor is elected, people are voting that they don’t want this stuff. There is a mandate to remove it. People are aware what this stuff means and people want it removed and Labor has to listen.”
Public Services International (PSI), an international union federation, is calling on its affiliates to send letters of protest to the Salvadoran government following the arrest of 8 members of the executive board of the Trade Union of Nursing Workers of El Salvador, SIGEESAL, members of the Salvadoran Trade Union Front (Frente Sindical Salvadoreno). The union leaders were arrested in the city of Ahuchapan and Santa Ana, early in the morning of September 4 by members of the National Police. There are also arrest warrants issued against other union leaders as well.
On September 10, almost all Esselte workers who had struck against an attempt to impose Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) went back to work with a union collective agreement. However, David Rojas, the site’s union delegate, has been sacked and barred from the workplace.
Ros Kidd, author of a new report detailing the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from Queensland Aboriginal workers through unpaid wages over many decades, has called for part of the federal budget surplus to be used as compensation. The Hard Labour, Stolen Wages report was launched at the Irish Club on September 5.
Despite the media fanfare, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, held in Sydney on September 8 and 9, achieved next to nothing in combating global warming.
In the wake of a Federal Court judge finding that the Australian government wrongfully revoked the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef, a community forum on “Anti-terror laws and your civil rights” was held in Brisbane on September 2.
I'd like to thank the students from the schools, For getting off their stools, And coming out to protest against these tools. The old, the young, The weak, the strong. No more pain, Stop their reign. Confront – get out there! Walk
On September 7, the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian West Bank village of Bilin against Israel’s apartheid wall became a celebration. Protesters danced and sang as they marched to the wall. Three days earlier, the Israeli Supreme Court had ordered the Israeli defence ministry to re-route 1.7 kilometres of the 703-km wall, which has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.
Revised and Updated Edition By Eric Hobsbawm
Abacus, 2007
368 pages, $27.95(pb)
During the last week of August, more than 3000 workers at the state-controlled Chengdu Power company went on strike at their diesel engines producing plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and protested at the city government offices. The action was a bid to pressure the factory management to honour the original agreement under which working conditions would be changed while the company is restructured for privatisation.
Fanning discontent’s Flames: Australian Wobbly Poetry, Scurrilous Doggerel and Song, 1914-2007
Corrosive Press, 2007
43 pages, $2
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