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.
Aboriginal workers in the government’s $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) are working for what amounts to half the dole plus rations. However, these workers are still being recorded as contributing to SIHIP meeting its employment target, Crickey.com.au said. SIHIP is the housing project announced by the federal government in 2008. The project was to provide much needed housing for Aboriginal populations in remote areas of the Northern Territory.
An unprecedented high abstention rate of 39% marked elections for municipal and regional authorities for 13 region governors and 325 mayors in Greece. The second round of the elections took place on November 14. The regions are newly created local authorities. Their formation is closely connected to the austerity program imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU). The new bodies conform to the “Kallikratis” plan, a hasty reform of the administrative structure of the country.
"The main issues here at the City Hall site are wages and conditions, and safety," Peter Ong, Electrical Trades Union organiser, told Green Left Weekly on November 17. He spoke at a picket of 500 construction workers outside City Hall, which is undergoing a $215 million renovation. "The main contractors, Abigroup, are using a labour hire workforce, at pay rates at least $6 per hour less than other city sites. Last week, the workers attended a meeting out the front, and were arbitrarily sacked by the company.”
The Venezuelan government has begun distributing the first of 350,000 portable Canaima laptop computers to be provided to public elementary school children by the end of the year, Venezuelanalysis.com said on November 17. Education minister Jennifer Gil said: “The Canaima Plan is a milestone and a technological innovation. It allows us to keep deepening our integral and massive education system that does not involve just students, but the entire family environment, parents, representatives and teachers.”
Twenty-three-year-old Mariano Ferreira, a Workers Party (PO) activist, was shot dead in Buenos Aires on October 8 when a mob violently attacked protesting railway workers. The protesters, all of them labour hire workers, were demanding their reinstatement after being sacked. The attack was similar those against other workers in comparable circumstances who have demanded rights denied by the bosses. Often the bosses’ have acted with local union support.
The second suicide in little more than two months took place at Villawood detention centre on the night of November 15. Ahmad Al Akabi, 41, was found by fellow detainees hanged in a bathroom. After spending more than a year in the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres, his asylum application had been rejected twice under the off-shore processing system that was found to be invalid in a recent High Court decision.
The big four banks are squealing at a Greens plan to introduce bank regulation legislation to parliament and at a class action being considered against banks that gouge borrowers through variable interest rate loans. The Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Westpac, ANZ and the National Australia Bank hiked interest rates above the 0.25% rise declared by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) on November 3. The Australian Institute said on November 15 the rise would give the banks $1.2 billion more profit.
Triple J did a profile on youth unemployment in Wollongong that was posted on the ABC’s website on October 29. Five young people were interviewed about the difficulties in finding work, and the reasons for the high youth unemployment rate. These are the same problems faced by young people all over Australia: a reduction in the number of apprenticeships available, the effects of the financial crisis, the lack of experience young people have and how no-one is willing to give them a chance.
Burma’s November 7 elections — held under an undemocratic constitution in an atmosphere of repression and with the result crudely rigged — have been overshadowed by the release from house arrest of opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi on November 13. Thousands of supporters lined the streets to her house and flocked to NLD offices to hear her speak. Suu Kyi’s release has been compared to that of Nelson Mandela in 1990. However, unlike Mandela, Suu Kyi was not released from detention by a regime seeking negotiations.
There has been a lot of discussion about the problems within Australia’s national A-League football (“soccer”) competition, with some even fearing that it is on the verge of collapse. Maybe that won’t happen, but there are signs that things aren’t looking good. In September, Newcastle Jets became the latest club to be provided with an emergency loan. The league’s governing body, Football Federation Australia (FFA) agreed to provide short term financial assistance so the club could pay its players.
The crackdown by Moroccan occupation forces on the protest camp at Gdeim Izik on November 8 may have brought more attention to the plight of Western Sahara than was intended. The 20,000-strong camp at Gdeim Izik, 15 km from the Western Saharan capital, El Aaiun, was established on October 9 to protest against the discrimination and oppression experienced by Saharawi people living under Moroccan occupation.