On August 12, members of the Unite trade union employed at six airports by the privatised British Airports Authority voted to strike by a margin of three to one, rejecting a one percent pay rise offered by BAA. The 6185 Unite members at the six affected airports — firefighters, security staff, engineers and support staff — accepted a pay freeze in 2009. BAA also withdrew a proposed £450 bonus for the airport workers and informed all staff that they would lose out on their annual airport incentive payment of £700 for 2010.
Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of indigenous President Evo Morales. Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government.
Thousands of people took to the streets on August 14 in support of legalising same-sex marriage and against the discriminatory policies of both major parties. In Sydney, Peter Boyle said about 3000 people rallied at Town Hall before marching to Taylor Square. Comedian and host of ABC’s Gruen Transfer Wil Anderson chaired the event.
In his influential 1985 book Abandon Affluence, radical Australian sociologist Ted Trainer made the argument that the capitalist economies of the rich world, and the wasteful consumer culture they spawned, were unsustainable and the ecological limits of capitalist growth were fast approaching.
If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Friends of Palestine (WA — FOPWA) must be doing something right: Friends of Israel (WA) was launched on August 8. The group’s website is a mix of nationalism and barely concealed racism. “Israel is in the front lines of the global battle between those who love life and those who glorify death”, it says. The launch took place at the Victory Life Centre, a fundamentalist Christian church, in Osborne Park, Perth.
Immigration officials accept about 99% of claims for refugee status by people who have arrived by boats in Australia. But this hasn’t stopped mainstream politicians from punishing those seeking asylum in this way. In April, the government announced it would temporarily freeze visa applications from newly arrived Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. In June, about 70% of Afghan (mostly Hazara) claims were rejected, according to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC). Such rejection figures have never been seen before.
More than 1000 people packed into Sydney Town Hall on August 12 for the Sydney launch of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Stationary Energy Plan. The plan outlines how Australia could meet all its energy needs from renewables within 10 years. The successful event followed the well-attended Melbourne launch, which attracted about 700 people in July. The plan is the product of a collaboration between the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute and the non-profit climate advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
An August 10 summit between recently inaugurated Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lowered tensions in a region that some believe was on the brink of armed confrontation. The situation reached boiling point after Colombia’s July 22 claims in the US-dominated Organisation of American States that Venezuela was “harbouring terrorists”.
The Liberal Party has pulled controversial Google advertisements after criticism and complaints from candidates standing against them. When Google users searched for the names of many candidates running in lower-house seats — including Socialist Alliance candidate for Cunningham, Jess Moore, who raised the issue in the national media — the first link to appear was a sponsored link to a Liberal Party website.
“In the end, capitalism is the only viable system we have for organising our economy”, said Lucy Turnbull, business person, former mayor of Sydney and partner of former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull at the iQ2 debate in Sydney on August 10 on the topic “Only capitalism can save the planet”. Turnbull was the only politician to make the Business Review Weekly's 2010 Rich 200 list this year. Well, she would think that, wouldn't she?