741

Sydney region:

Tuesday, March 11, 6pm: Kings Cross ALP branch "Stop the sell-off" community forum. With Mark Diesendorf, Bob Walker and Betty Con Walker. Reg Murphy Hall, cnr Greenknowe Ave and Betty Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay. Ph Catherine 0421 562

On February 14, in a clever piece of political theatre, Labor PM Kevin Rudd declared that federal MPs would forgo their scheduled pay rise for 2008. MP’s wages would effectively be frozen until mid-2009. Rudd also called on business executives to curb their pay rises, which averaged in excess of 30% in 2007 according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

A picture of two teens, a male and a female, with their fingers in their ears and pained looks on their faces greets visitors to the Compound Security Systems website. Compound Security Systems is the manufacturer of one of the latest security devices to arrive in Australia.

The fight to keep New South Wales electricity in public hands can and must be won. If NSW Premier Morris Iemma and treasurer Michael Costa get away with their plan to sell off the state’s electricity generation capacity and its retail arms, working people and the community will get a dearer, less reliable service and the chances of the state moving to a sustainable energy policy will be reduced to zero.

Students Against the Pulp Mill are holding their first forum on March 1 as a way for young people around Tasmania to organise opposition to the Tamar Valley pulp mill.

On the morning of February 19, without fanfare, Cuban media released a statement from President Fidel Castro stating that he would decline to stand for re-election to the presidency.

One-hundred-and-seventy Qantas valet parking staff nationally are affected by a company’s last-ditch effort to move workers onto five-year fixed-term Australian Workplace Agreements (individual contracts) before changes to industrial relations legislation abolishing AWAs come into effect.

“We start the campaign of 2008 without a pulp mill. Who would have thought that after more than three years [Premier Paul] Lennon and [Gunns Ltd CEO John] Gay would still not have their pulp mill?”, said Bob McMahon, one of the founders of Tasmanians Against The Pulp Mill (TAP).

More than 500 Fire Brigade Employee Union members turned out for a mass meeting on February 22 to discuss the progress of their campaign for a decent wage increase. Five hundred on-duty members voted by fax. The NSW government’s offer of a 4% pay rise with loss of conditions was rejected by a vote of 1025 to two, with 25 abstentions. A further motion endorsing the union’s log of claims including a wage rise of between $218 and $354 over three years was approved by a similar margin.

Parliamentarians are grossly overpaid. A backbencher gets paid more than twice median income, and that’s before adding allowances, generous superannuation, free air travel for life, etc. The PM gets double that: $330,356 (before expenses and perks). Last year, and the year before, the pollies awarded themselves a 7% pay rise while average wages rose 3.8%, putting the recently announced parliamentarians’ one-year salary freeze into perspective.

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