Issue 744

News

US Labor Against War “has organised large labour contingents at every major anti-Iraq war rally over the past five years”, Kathy Black, USLAW co-convener, told a public meeting of 60 people in the CEPU Auditorium in South Brisbane on March 1. The meeting, part of an Australia-wide speaking tour by Black, was organised by the Stop the War Collective and endorsed by the Electrical Trades Union and Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.
A lively forum reporting on the February 12 Canberra convergence for Indigenous rights drew more than 40 people in Perth and set the agenda for further campaigns.
As part of a national day of action protesting against the federal government’s quarantining of the welfare payments of allegedly negligent parents within Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, 30 students and staff, mainly Aboriginal, held a protest rally outside the Centrelink office on Curtin University campus on March 12.
On March 12 the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) lodged a submission to the Fair Pay Commission calling for a $26 a week pay increase for workers covered by awards — a 4.9% increase for workers paid the minimum wage (currently $522.12 a week).
On March 7 a successful community assembly of up to 150 union and community activists shut down Qantas valet parking operations at Melbourne Airport.
On March 8, a group of 16 Indigenous women and children were thrown out of the Haven Inn backpackers accommodation, after tourists complained to management that their presence made them feel “scared”.
Laws that curtailed civil liberties during the “extraordinary” and “temporary” conditions of the APEC protests last year in Sydney are likely to be made permanent, according to the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald.
“On top of the Israeli and US siege of Gaza and the illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians, in the last two years, 2000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded”, Kim Bullimore, who spent eight months living in the occupied West Bank, told a public forum at the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union on March 10. The forum, organised by the International Women’s Day Collective and endorsed by the Stop the War Collective and Fair Go for Palestine, attracted 40 people.
The demands reflect important struggles facing workers and the community, including the planned sell-off of NSW power and the ongoing campaign to abolish the worst aspects of former prime minister John Howard’s Work Choices legislation. In addition to the May 3 march and rally, the committee is organising a photo display in honour of past May Day struggles. It will be launched on May 1 in a local theatre and feature hundreds of photos, leaflets, posters, even an old “May Day queen” sash, ranging in dates from 1930s to recent years.
Fifty people attended the first public meeting of Cairns Action for Sustainable Transport (CAST), on March 11 at the Serbian Centre in Edge Hill. Attendees engaged in a lively discussion about improving Cairns’s public transport and bikeways.
Three hundred delegates voted unanimously to take industrial action in response to NSW government changes to staffing procedures in public schools at a March 8 NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) state council meeting.
A February 12-14 “national bargaining forum” of lead negotiators for the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) set a determined course for industrial and political campaigning over the next three years. Key outcomes include an aggressive bargaining strategy and a linked public policy campaign that will be both national and grassroots.
On March 12, 100 people joined a community assembly at the Sydney desalination plant site to protest against the sacking of a Maritime Union of Australia divers’ delegate for raising health and safety issues. It was also to protest the failure of Construction Diving Services (a subsidiary of Dempsey Industries) to negotiate a collective agreement with 14 divers on the site. Apart from MUA members, delegations from the Fire Brigades Employees Union and the Rail Tram and Bus Union attended.
Campaign group Your Water Your Say (YWYS) has warned that Victorian state government policy will see the state “swimming in water but drowning in water bills” by 2014 if the proposed $3.1 billion desalination plant goes ahead at Wonthaggi.
Nearly 200 people filled Wollongong’s Town Hall on March 11 to demand a Royal Commission into council corruption and for the people of Wollongong to be able to exercise their democratic right to take part in the NSW local government elections, scheduled for September.

Analysis

On March 10 and 11, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an expose of “white flight” from public schools across NSW. Using a previously confidential survey of 163 high school principals in NSW, it described the phenomenon where increasing numbers of white-European parents were removing their children from disadvantaged public schools in regional and remote areas and areas in Sydney’s south-west and placing them in private schools or in selective state schools in more distant suburbs.

The following speech was delivered by Enas to a March 12 Melbourne protest in solidarity with Palestine, held to coincide with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s motion in parliament that celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment.

Labor’s new Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008, tabled in federal parliament on February 13, will most likely come in to effect early April. The bill is the first in a raft of legislation to be introduced to parliament and is promoted by the federal government as the first step in the dismantling of Work Choices.
The profit-driven, multi-billion-dollar treatment of depression has been exposed as little less than a fraud. The selective publication of trials has meant that large corporations have been able to make misleading claims for their drugs.
Ever heard of Walter Lindrum? No. How about Arthur Streeton or Nelly Melba? Don’t ring a bell either? Well, that’s OK as long as you were just playing a game of trivia or filling in a crossword. Unfortunately, not knowing the answer to these or similarly trivial questions can have a more serious outcome nowadays — it might actually jeopardise an immigrant’s chances of becoming an Australian citizen.
Carbon trading and offsets distract attention from the wider, systemic changes and collective political action that needs to be taken in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Promoting more effective and empowering approaches to climate change involves moving away from the blinkered reductionism of free-market dogma, the false economy of supposed quick fixes and the short-term self-interest of big business.
“For a council that won’t cost us the Earth”, was the slogan for the campaign for the Brisbane City Council by David White, a member of the Socialist Alliance. The council held elections on March 15.

World

In Chinese-occupied Tibet, the largest protests for self determination for over two decades was met with violent repression on March 14, with reports of up to 100 people killed. The British-based Free Tibet campaign released a statement on March 14
The demonstrations which began on March 10, 2008, in Tibet, and which turned into riots since March 14, are remarkable both for their breadth and their radicalism. Far from being confined to the capital, Lhasa, they have spread to the bordering provinces of China, where communities of Tibetans reside: witnesses report important mobilisations in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan.
British Judge Paul Walker declared in a London courtroom today that the freezing of US$12 billion in assets of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA shall be revoked.
“Five years after US troops invaded Iraq, there are many tears — though not everyone is crying”, Associated Press reported on March 5 “It’s the war that more than a million US soldiers have fought, leaving nearly 4000 dead and more than 29,000 wounded in action. The one in which thousands of contractors rushed in to serve and to make a buck …”
Reeling from the blow that it received in the aftermath of the Colombian military’s illegal incursion on March 1 into Ecuador — which resulted in the brutal massacre of a number of civilians and members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including its chief negotiator Raul Reyes — US imperialism has once again raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the growing process of Latin American integration.
Despite a new report by the UN’s nuclear “watchdog” agency stating that Iran is in compliance with its legal obligations to the agency under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), the UN Security Council voted on March 3 to punish Iran with a third round of financial sanctions.
A massive environmental disaster in Sidoarjo, Indonesia, has forced 15,000 people to leave their homes in the past two years. An enormous eruption of hot mud that began in May 2006 continues to flow at a rate of 148,000 cubic metres a day. Activists
Israeli forces have killed four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to a March 13 AAP report, just hours after Hamas called a halt to Israeli aggression in order to for a ceasefire to be observed. Three of those killed were members
Thousands of union members at Fortune Tobacco Corporation in Marikina and members of the Labour Party (PM) celebrated International Women's Day (IWD) on March 8 with a demonstation from their factory gate to the town plaza. Marilyn Calilap, the
Addressing the founding congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) on March 2, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez proclaimed the new party to be “a party for the social battle, for the defense of the homeland”.
Cradling my niece in my arms, she was white as a sheet and lying lifeless with the sedative effects of the medication — and only 3 weeks into this world. Heartache, uncertainty and concern.
February 28 marked a further deepening of the political crisis and polarisation in Bolivia, when the national congress, in the middle of a blockade by a section of Bolivia’s main social movements, approved a law to hold two national referendums on May 4.
Below is a March 9 statement by the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM). For more information, visit .
Below is a compilation of reports from the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) and the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) about the campaign to recover Indonesia’s national sovereignty, the main focus of which has been a series of protests across Indonesia to demand the nationalisation of the mining industry.
Malaysia's National Front (BN) government continues to refuse the Malaysian Socialist Party's (PSM) application to register as a political party, claiming that the PSM is a threat to national security. On the basis that the right to form a
The March 29 election in Zimbabwe is very likely to result in President Robert Mugabe winning, by hook or by crook, a slim majority so as to avoid a run-off.

Culture

On March 17, 1968 British actor Vanessa Redgrave, having addressed a huge anti-Vietnam War protest in London’s Trafalgar Square, visited the US embassy in Grosvenor Square to deliver a protest letter. She was accompanied by thousands of protestors chanting “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, we will fight and we will win!”
Entrar Valera
Exhibition of works by Reinaldo Hernandez Valera
TAP Gallery, Darlinghurst, until March 16
Art Melbourne 08
Royal Exhibition Centre, Carlton from April 17-20
<http://www.cubaust.com>
There are surges at the station For word has got around That someone thinks power's fit to privatise Pyremmia Eyemmia and his mate "Too Mucha" Costa They're in this plot up to their scheming eyes @poetry = Pyremmia Eyemmia? Yes — the man
Compass: A Small Town Welcome — Explores what happens when a community says "yes" to taking in a family of Sudanese refugees. ABC, Friday, March 21, 7.30pm. Oswald's Ghost — Argues that after John F. Kennedy's assassination, the government
Climate Code Red: the Case for a Sustainability Emergency
By David Spratt (Carbon Equity) & Philip Sutton (Greenleap Strategic Institute)
91 pages.
Published by Friends of the Earth.
$12/$10 or free PDF from http://climatecodered.net.
Karl Marx: His Life & Thought
By David McLellan
Palgrave Macmillan, 4th Edition 2006
487 pages, $59.95 (pb)

General

Green Left Weekly is taking a one-week break over Easter. The next edition will be dated April 2.
Katarina Pujiastuti, a political activist in Jakarta, reports growing queues for petrol, massive electricity blackouts, and industry fuel shortages plaguing oil-rich Indonesia.

Letters

Prostitution I I am a woman, former prostitute who read your article "Student poverty and prostitution" (GLW #743). I really liked your conclusions and thought it good you took a firm stand against prostitution. Until the end, when you all of a

Resistance!

Following the age-old premise of struggling locally to effect change globally, activists fighting for justice for the Palestinian people are taking big steps forward in a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeted against the criminal Israeli state.