The following statement was adopted by the Trade Union Climate Change Conference held in Melbourne on October 9. * * * This conference of Victorian union activists and local climate activists commends the report by Beyond Zero Emissions and Melbourne University’s Energy Research Centre. The report outlines a technically feasible and economically viable way for Australia to transition to 100% renewable energy within 10 years.
Campaign groups against the NT intervention published a statement in the October 29 Australian that condemned its effects on Aboriginal working conditions in remote communities. The statement was supported by Unions NT and by unions such as the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union; the Maritime Union of Australia; and the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. It was also supported by several Aboriginal corporations, health services and rights groups involved from communities affected by the intervention, as well as support groups in the coastal cities.
McDonalds bans community languages Sue Bolton, Melbourne Global burger chain store McDonalds has banned its employees in Australia from speaking languages other than English while on duty. Employees in Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs were told of the order by senior management figures at special regional paid training sessions.
An exciting new event will soon make its appearance on the calendar of the Australian workers movement. It's the first Union and Community Summer School, held in Melbourne over December 10-11. Called “Winning Our Rights”, the school will bring together experienced labour activists from different generations and most left political traditions, to discuss the way forward for the union movement.
Hunter Valley activist Pete Gray gained notoriety on October 25 for throwing shoes at former prime minister John Howard on ABC’s political talk show, Q&A. Gray is a long-time activist committed to non-violent direct action. He is a member of climate action group Rising Tide and has also been involved in a variety of social justice campaigns. Gray’s decision to throw his shoes at Howard was a homage to Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at former US president George Bush during a press conference in December 2008.
Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory "want to work, want to have a go”, Aboriginal activist Mark Fordham told 60 people at Brisbane’s Kurilpa Hall on October 24. Fordham is a former Community Development Employment Projects co-ordinator at Ampilatwatja community and is a member of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union. Fordham had spent the previous two weeks touring the east coast, speaking with unions and community groups about the effect the federal government’s intervention into NT Aboriginal communities has had on employment.
"Is it fair that disability support workers earn less than workers who stack supermarkets shelves?" Australian Services Union NSW secretary Sally McManus asked 2000 protesters, including people with disabilities and disability sector workers. "Is it fair disability workers are forced away from Sydney because they can't afford to pay the rent?"
"A Jewish majority in a solely Jewish state necessitates perpetual discrimination against the Palestinians”, Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American award-winning speaker for human rights in the Middle East, told an audience of 100 at the Queensland Parliamentary Annexe on October 27. Baltzer is an author, former Fulbright scholar and granddaughter of Holocaust refugees. She has lived and worked in the West Bank, and has contributed to four upcoming books on the Palestinian struggle.
McDonalds will soon be trialling two lanes of drive through at some outer suburban restaurants to bring down its drive through wait time. There are a number of reasons why some people in outer suburbs are becoming increasingly dependent on drive-through takeaway food. Longer working hours, falling living standards and greater travelling distances have cut into the time, energy and money suburban working class families can devote to grocery shopping, meal preparation, sitting down to eat and washing dishes.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard knew just who she was talking to when she gave her address to the Australian Industry Group’s annual dinner on October 25. The AIG and its affiliates represent more than 60,000 bosses, according to its website. This includes Veolia, the privatisation juggernaut. But just so she didn’t rustle too many feathers, Gillard spoke to them in the kind of arcane riddles she hoped only they could understand.
About 50 people attended a meeting on October 27 to stop the sell-off of Gleniffer Brae, a historic, heritage-listed manor house in Wollongong. Organised by Reclaim Our City, the meeting discussed the need for Gleniffer Brae — owned by Wollongong City Council — to stay in public hands, and questioned the right of unelected administrators to decide the future of such a valuable community asset.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks was under a control order that prevented him from speaking about his ordeal for a year after his release. In an attempt to further silence him, on October 27 shadow attorney-general George Brandis called on the government to charge Hicks with profiting from crime for writing a book. The book about his experiences, Guantanamo: My Journey hit number four in the non-fiction bestseller category.