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When a newly established group, Australians for Tamil Rights, began advertising a protest titled “Sri Lanka: Massacre of Tamils is just not cricket”, anti-Tamil Sinhalese went wild on Facebook with a campaign of vitriolic abuse. Most of the abusers denied that there had ever been a massacre of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Despite the internet campaign against the November 3 protest, it went ahead outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground where Sri Lanka and Australia played a 20-20 cricket match. One of the Sri Lankan cricketers, Ajantha Mendis, is a former artillery gunner in the Sri Lankan army.
McKillop’s real miracle For those of us in solidarity with East Timor, now Timor Leste, the real miracle is the work of Mary McKillop East Timor, with its people, notably Sr Josephine Mitchell and Sr Susan Conelly. They and others in MMET have done miracles in literacy in Timor, honouring the indigenous Tetum language.
Touring Colombian unionist Parmenio Poveda Salazar, an official with the National Unitarian Federation of Agrarian Unions (Fensuagro), has called for increased international solidarity with unionists and human rights activists in Colombia. Parmenio said: "Many leaders of Colombian unions have been assassinated, and others have been forced into exile" by the policies of former president Alvaro Uribe. These same policies are continuing under new president Manuel Santos with at least 22 unionists and social justice activists being killed in the first 75 days of Santos’ presidency.
Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart is at it again. In 2004, he told a woman who had been sexually abused by a priest to “go to hell, bitch”. In 2009, he unsuccessfully attempted to pressure Father Bob Maguire, a progressive Melbourne icon, to retire from his local parish.
Construction workers marched through the Sydney CBD on November 3 to call on the state government to protect pay entitlements and safety standards on the $6 billion Barangaroo development on Sydney’s former wharves. Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) state secretary Mal Tulloch told the rally that the development could play a critical role in turning around the NSW building industry’s race to the bottom in safety standards and decent working conditions.
More than 15,000 Community and Public Sector Union members from almost every Australian Public Service agency have voted on the CPSU's APS-wide bargaining claim. The final outcome was 14,665 (97.5%) in favour. The claim included an APS-wide pay rise of 4%, payable from July 1, 2011, and a further 4% payable from July 1, 2012. It also included additional measures to gradually increase pay in lower paid areas. There are currently large differences in pay between different agencies.
Westpac was the last of the big four banks in Australia to announce its annual profit. It made the biggest — a whopping $6.3 billion, 84% higher than 2008-09. The Commonwealth Bank made the second biggest profit this year, $6.1 billion (up 42%). It was also the first bank to announce it would raise its interest rates for home mortgages more than the latest Reserve Bank interest rate rise. ANZ made $5 billion (up 53%) and NAB $4.6 billion (up 63%). The big four made a total profit of $23 billion.
BBC services were severely disrupted after a 48-hour walkout on November 5 and 6 by thousands of media workers. MorningStarOnline.co.uk said on November 5 the workers were fighting the corporation’s “pensions robbery”, which would result in payouts being dramatically reduced. The corporation’s director general Mark Thompson claimed the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) strike had no impact, but viewers and listeners tuned into BBC radio and TV channels to find the flagship program off air.
Almost daily protests have been organised by unions and community groups since the ALP state government handed down its budget on September 16. It slashed community infrastructure, cut 3743 jobs from the public service and altered the Public Services Act to do away with workers' leave loading and long service leave entitlements. The largest protest was a 10,000-strong march organised by the Public Service Association (PSA) that marched along King William Street on its way to parliament.
Socialist Alliance released a statement on South Australia’s budget cuts on November 3. * * * The Socialist Alliance opposes the public service cuts in South Australia. The effects of the global financial crisis have hit South Australia with this budget. But who will pay for it? The bankers and corporate heads that caused it? No, Premier Mike Rann and deputy premier Kevin Foley want the working people of South Australia to pay for the crisis they did not create.
Phil Golby was the president of the Port Curtis and Hinterland branch of the ALP until October 20. Then, along with five leading members, he publicly resigned to protest against the Queensland Labor government’s proposal to sell off public assets despite mass opposition from rank-and-file ALP members. Until October, Golby was also the president of the Gladstone branch of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU). He is a state organiser with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, working out of the union’s Gladstone office.
Divisions about a carbon price are hardening among Australia’s big businesses. Two distinct positions seem to have emerged in the corporate boardrooms. Some corporate groups are backing the federal government’s call for a price on carbon because they say it will allow for a more certain environment for investment. Nine CEOs of big Australian fund managers and superannuation companies linked to the Investor Group on Climate Change have formed a new panel to lobby the government for a carbon price.
Fremantle Council is grappling with the rights and conditions of the workers who it expects to implement the city’s projects. I’ve proposed a policy called “Employment Values for the City of Fremantle”. For supporters of workers’ rights, the policy is straightforward and modest. It seeks to entrench the following principles: 1. Respecting the right of workers to union organisation and representation. 2. Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and creating a guaranteed path to permanency. 3. Remunerating employees on the basis of equal pay and conditions for work of equal value.
Campaign group Safe Climate Perth reached the milestone of 2000 signatures on its no new coal petition on October 30. The petition calls for WA's parliament to stop to expansion of coal-fired power stations, mines and related infrastructure, and to fund a roll-out of renewable energy with priority access to the new jobs, with equivalent conditions, given to coal communities. The petition was launched on October 10, and Safe Climate Perth has embarked on an energetic effort to reach 10,000 signatures by Human Rights Day.
The Cyprus Club was packed out at a special “Viva Cuba” solidarity dinner on October 31. About 180 people welcomed the new Cuban ambassador to Australia Pedro Monzon Barata, the new Cuban consul general Reinaldo Garcia Perera and new Cuban consul Maribel Espinosa Begueri. Tim Anderson, senior lecturer in political economy at the University of Sydney, gave a sneak preview of his new documentary about Cuban medical and education projects in East Timor. Cuba is training more than 900 doctors as part of the programs.
A large number of BP’s pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope are severely corroded and in danger of rupturing, an internal BP maintenance report obtained by investigative journalism group ProPublica, revealed on November 2. The news comes less than two months after oil ceased gushing into the ocean from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The report said at least 148 BP pipelines in the region have been given an “F-rank” by company inspectors — a grading given when more than 80% of a pipe is corroded. The pipes transport oil, gas and other toxic substances.

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