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The following media statement was released on November 25 by Tim Gooden, Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council. “The decision of Adelaide magistrate David Whittle that Ark Tribe is innocent is a tremendous victory for Ark, his family and for working people across Australia”, Geelong Trades Hall Council Secretary, Tim Gooden said today. Geelong Trades Hall congratulates Ark Tribe for his brave stand against unjust laws. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (Ark’s union) has done a great job in the courts and ensuring Ark received all the legal help he needed.
Workers with disabilities are speaking out against the Supported Wage System (SWS), which encourages employers to legally underpay workers with disabilities. The federal government’s Job Access program markets SWS as a progressive innovation by burying it among more egalitarian policies such as funding workplace accessibility improvements. The Job Access website said the SWS was “a process that allows employers to pay less than the award wage by matching a person's productivity with a fair wage”.
Dear Melissa Parke, Federal ALP MP for Fremantle, As blue collar workers, I and my partner have been involved with our unions over the past decade. In that time, I have seen our unions fight for safety, dignity and a better life for our family. I welcome the "not guilty" verdict in the trial of Ark Tribe, but the fact that Mr Tribe was on trial at all is a disgrace. Laws that compel people answer questions in secret, do not guarantee people access to lawyers of their choice and involved other breaches of basic human rights should disgust you.
Unions NSW presented the "Better Services for a Better State" campaign in the Sutherland Shire at the Sutherland District Trade Union Club ("Tradies") on November 19. There was only a small crowd but there was fruitful discussion on the issues confronting the campaign. In his opening presentation, Maritime Union of Australia Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer explained how the battle to keep Sydney Ferries public had been won. McAleer said the MUA, and other unions representing workers on the ferries, had focused on building the broadest possible alliance against the sell-off.
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. A week out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure. Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Economic Survey of Australia, released on November 15, called for an increase in the rate and scope of the goods and services tax (GST) and a cut in business taxes. The rich countries’ economic club also called for higher road tolls, greater labour productivity and a price on carbon. The OECD’s annual survey congratulated the Labor government for avoiding recession during the global financial crisis but also demanded it undertake further “structural reforms to strengthen productivity”.
In October, Kevin Harkins, a member of the Labor Left, won the ballot to become the new secretary of Unions Tasmania. Harkins was an electrician and then an organiser with the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria, before becoming ETU Tasmanian secretary in 2000. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Linda Seaborn. * * * The recent Unions Tasmania election was the first contested ballot in years. Can you tell me about that?
Forty people attended a meeting about the Northern Territory government's attack on bilingual education in remote Indigenous communities on November 18. The government has banned teaching in Indigenous languages during the first four hours of the school day. The meeting began with a phone link to two people from the Yirrkala community, where the local school is defying the ban. They said teaching children in Yolngu language was vital to maintaining culture and producing better academic results.
The Australian National University’s (ANU) sexuality department not only provides an invaluable support service to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer students on campus (LGBTIQ), it is also unashamedly political. For example, it has thrown its weight behind the campaign for equal marriage rights. So perhaps it is not surprising that the department has been challenged by homophobia on campus. In May during Pride Week, 500 posters were ripped down.
“The Group of 20 countries [which met in Seoul over November 11-13] were supposed to have stamped out the financial market abuses at the heart of the global crisis but little seems to have changed since their last summit, analysts say. “Hopes for reform after the market chicanery that brought down a series of ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks and sparked the worst slump since the 1930s have faded with the return of the ‘get rich quick’ mentality, according to analysts.
The South Australian Labor government’s public service cuts were passed through parliament on November 8, ignoring sharp criticism from the Public Service Association (PSA) and widespread protests. Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney described the cuts as a form of “political terrorism”, in an address to the PSA that day. She said public funding issues would become increasingly frequent across Australia as governments continue to adopt “neoliberal, global agendas”.
Greece’s government intends to bump up sales taxes for the third time this year and slash spending on health care. The new measures were included in the 2011 budget it submitted to parliament on November 18. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government has already raised the sales tax twice this year. Papandreou had pledged not to introduce any measures that would cause more hardship for ordinary Greek citizens — such as new taxes.
— "Queensland is now the world epicentre of pollution of our atmosphere", Greens leader Bob Brown told 200 people at a November 14 meeting sponsored by Friends of the Earth, 6 Degrees, the Wilderness Society and the Queensland Conservation Council. "We know what is coming if we don't put a stop to the use of fossil fuels. This year is the hottest ever in human existence, and it's only going to get worse if we don't take urgent action to tackle climate change."
Thousands of supporters of Thailand’s Red Shirt movement (the popular name for the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) once again turned Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong Intersection into a sea of red on November 19. Protesters turned out in their thousands to mark six months since the military attacked and dispersed a mass protest camp that occupied the area in April and May. More than 90 people were killed and thousands injured. Hundreds of protesters are still imprisoned.
Ark Tribe’s battle with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) may end on November 24, at the Adelaide Magistrates Court when Tribe's verdict is scheduled to be announced. This would end the two-year ordeal for Tribe and his family. The 47-year-old rigger is facing six months’ jail for not attending an ABCC interrogation over an “unauthorised” safety meeting on a building site at Flinders University in August 2008.
When the Victorian Parliament decriminalised abortion two years ago, the battle was finally over, right? Then why is the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne still targeted by anti-abortion zealots? And why, after five years, has Melbourne City Council started harassing clinic defenders, potentially handing a victory to those same zealots?

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