Issue 1178

Australia

About 500 members of the Health Services Union (HSU), United Voice, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and other unions gathered in Hyde Park on April 19 to "Rally for Respect: Time to Care for Aged Care."

Speakers represented the various health sector unions, as well as UnionsNSW, and Labor federal and state politicians.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government has cut billions of dollars from the aged care sector. This has had an enormous impact on the lives of older Australians in care, their families and those who care for them.

For more than 20 years, locals on the NSW Central Coast have been fighting a proposed coalmine in the Dooralong and Yarramalong valleys near Wyong.

The area is an important part of the drinking water catchment for more than 300,000 people, and the proposed Wallarah 2 longwall coalmine threatens to take millions of litres of water each year out of the catchment and pollute local waterways.

 

Former staff and United Voice union members protested outside Barry cafe in Northcote’s trendy High Street shopping strip on April 23 after workers said they were sacked for asking to be paid award wages.

The staff say they were paid $18 an hour and no penalty rates for weekends or public holidays. Under the award, the minimum rate should have been $23.51 for weekday shifts and $29.30 for weekends.

Almost 100 people gathered at the Redfern Community Centre on April 21 for an exhibition and memorial to commemorate the third anniversary of the passing of Ray Jackson.

The memorial, which was organised by Jackson’s family, with the support of friends, comrades and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) started with a very emotive smoking ceremony.

More than 100 people rallied for renewable energy outside the COAG Energy Council meeting in Melbourne on April 20.

The Yes 2 Renewables campaign called the snap rally to demand greater action on renewable energy and climate change. The rally urged state energy ministers to reject the federal government's dodgy energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee, which would end investment in renewable energy and lock in polluting coal and gas.

About 100 people attended a forum on April 23 with the theme: "Change the rules for refugees".

The forum, organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC), aimed to show the links between the struggles for union rights and refugee rights.

Chairperson Lucy Honan, a member of RAC and the Australian Education Union, said that unionists and refugees are under attack by the same Coalition government. She noted that many refugees are themselves workers.

A "Justice for Josh" rally organised by the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (AUWU) was held in Sydney on April 19, as part of a national day of protest demanding action on the federal government's Work for the Dole scheme.

Speakers condemned the federal government's refusal to release a report into the death of Josh Park-Fing in 2016, and called for an end to Work for the Dole.

More than 600 activists rallied here on April 22 to condemn Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s announcement that fracking would go ahead in the NT despite his election promise of a 5-year moratorium.  

The Gunner Labor government was elected in 2016, partly on the promise to hold back on fracking which would open 51% of the NT to the controversial process of mining gas via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”.

World

In a major victory for the Palestinian rights movement on US college campuses, students at Barnard College in New York City voted nearly two-thirds in favour of a referendum supporting divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s human rights violations, writes Nora Barrows-Friedman.

Concerns over the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the Hindu nationalist BJP government continuing in power into the indefinite future were partially allayed by the December elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. 

Modi was Gujarat’s longest ruling chief minister and used his “Gujarat model” as the vehicle of his rise to power. This model was based on large-scale handouts of land, public assets and subsidies to corporate houses in return for media hype and enthusiastic endorsement by an increasingly shrill, intolerant and hectoring corporate media.

The United Nations has declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day. But one place where there is still no press freedom is Indonesian-occupied West Papua.

Local journalists are arrested and tortured. Foreign journalists are not allowed in, or strictly monitored. Even international websites supporting West Papuan independence are hacked, and shut down. 

In a major win for workers’ rights, workers at a United States fast-food chain, Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, have overwhelmingly voted for a federally-recognised union. This will make it the first fast food union in the country.

“Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the the only formally recognized fast food union in the country,” the Burgerville Workers Union, said on its Facebook page after the vote on April 23.

In online communities celebrating misogyny and decrying men's so-called “involuntary celibacy”, the suspect in the April 23 van attack in Toronto was being lauded as a “new saint”. This caused some on social media to urge a closer look at the link between such groups and mass violence.

While the voices of Venezuela's right-wing opposition are continuously amplified by the corporate media, rarely are the voices of grassroots activists heard. Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes spoke to Pacha Catalina Guzman, a leading activist with Venezuela’s largest peasant-based organisation, the Ezequiel Zamora National Campesino Front (FNCEZ), to get her view on the current economic crisis and how rural communities are organising to deal with the situation.

Trade unions across the globe mobilised on April 23 to demand the immediate release from prison of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), which waged a decades-long military campaign for Basque independence, released its “Statement to the Basque Country: declaration on harm caused” on April 8. The statement is an apology for the suffering arising from more than 40 years of violent operations that ended in a permanent ceasefire in 2011.

The Rana Plaza collapse claimed more than 1000 lives — and showed management’s contempt for the safety of workersMarienna Pope-Weidemann reports on the struggle for better conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh.

Migrants and refugees staying in a refuge in Mexico City have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks recently.

“Freedom” can be a very difficult word to define, but it is easy to understand when you lose it.

As Palestinians protest in Gaza for the right to return to their land, Israel’s murderous repression has continued with an ever-growing death toll, reports Lisa Gleeson.

Solidarity groups, NGOs and Kurdish Associations are planning a global campaign across Europe, Australia, Canada and the US to materially support the people displaced from Afrin, in northern Syria, after the invasion and occupation by the Turkish military and allied Islamist groups.

Analysis

Green Left Weekly asked unionists why they are in a union and what unions mean to them.

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I happily admit that I will take any opportunity to parade down the street waving a red flag, and the May Day march in Hamilton on Sunday will be one of those opportunities.

Since the 1850s, when the first workers’ associations were formed in the Hunter, trade unionists and their families have put their demands forward on occasions such as May Day.

This issue of Green Left Weekly will hit the streets on May 1, an important day for the labour movement around the world.

Here, May Day marches and events around the country will form part of the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” campaign. These 12 days of action will culminate on May 9 in Melbourne, when workers from across all unions will take part in what promises to be the biggest weekday industrial rally in years.

Vickie Roach is a Yuin woman, a survivor of the Stolen Generation and a writer. She gave this speech at Ray Jackson’s memorial celebrations at Redfern Community Centre on April 21.

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I’d first like to acknowledge the Gadigal people and the Eora nation whose land we meet on here today and pay my respect to Ancestors and Elders, past and present.

The mounting scandals being revealed by the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry highlight the need for a comprehensive and radical solution to the crisis in the banking system.

The Big Four banks must be nationalised so people can take back their stolen wealth and a new public banking system must be created under democratic community control.

A new report, “Adani Godda Power Project: Too Expensive, Too Late, and Too Risky for Bangladesh”, by Tim Buckley and Simon Nicholas released on April 10 by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) has concluded that the Godda power project, promoted by Adani to justify its struggling Carmichael coal project in Queensland, is financially unviable and a poor strategic fit for Bangladesh.

Environment groups say new land-clearing laws, expected to be put before the Queensland parliament this week, contain loopholes that could allow the continued clearing of high-value vegetation where landowners have already “locked in” their vegetation maps.

Queensland is responsible for more land clearing than the rest of the country combined. Rates of clearing surged when the former Liberal National Party (LNP) government under Premier Campbell Newman scrapped restrictions in December 2013.

In April, NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge launched a Greens Manifesto in which he sets out a political vision that he says is in tune with the party’s founding four key platform points. Green Left Weekly’s Pip Hinman caught up with Shoebridge on April 18 to ask about the thinking behind the document.

One key issue in the Australian Council of Trade Union's “Change the Rules” campaign is the right to strike.

We campaign for parliament to repeal all the penal powers against industrial action from Work Choices that are still in the Fair Work Act and then to enact the lawful right to strike. Full Stop.

Culture

Dissent didn’t obey strict decade-demarcation lines on Australian campuses in the radical 1960s, writes Sally Wood in Dissent: The Student Press in 1960s Australia.

Despite his great CV, Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin doesn’t quite reach its satirical pretensions.

US rapper Kendrick Lamar has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Music for his critically acclaimed album DAMN. Lamar became the first non-classical or jazz musician to ever win the prize, Democracy Now! noted.

The filmmaker Taika Waititi said racism is very pronounced in New Zealand, explaining he faced blatant discrimination as a Te Whānau-ā-Apanui youth.

In a recent interview, "Thor: Ragnarok" director and sometimes actor says his native New Zealand is “racist as fuck.”

"People just flat-out refuse to pronounce Maori names properly. There’s still profiling when it comes to Polynesians. It’s not even a colour thing – like, ‘Oh, there’s a black person.’ It’s, ‘If you’re Poly then you’re getting profiled.’”