Geelong

As the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to legislate for marriage equality, councils are increasingly being called on to take a lead.

On April 26, former mayor Councillor Rose Hodge moved a motion that the Surf Coast Shire Council fly the Pride flag continuously from May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia) until the federal government passed a law in support of marriage equality.

Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Colin Vernon, along with other union and community activists raised the rainbow flag above Geelong Trades Hall on June 27. The flag symbolises support for marriage equality, the LGBTI community and Surf Coast Shire residents who have been campaigning to keep the flag flying at their local council building.

Unionists held a protest in favour of penalty rates on May 27 outside the Liberal member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson’s Geelong office. Adele Welsh, a social worker and member of the Australian Services Union and Geelong Trades Hall Executive, gave this speech at the protest.

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State vice president of the CFMEU’s Victorian Construction and General Division Robert Graauwmans gave this speech at Socialist Alliance’s May Day Dinner in Geelong on May 6. Below is an edited version of his speech.

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I’ve been asked to speak on the topic of “Why we should break bad laws” and while I welcome the invitation and the topic, tonight I will not talk about the whether we need to break bad laws, but rather, why we must defy injustice.

The 12th Socialist Alliance national conference, held over January 20 to 22 at the Geelong Trades Hall, discussed the challenges facing the left and the state of the fightback against neoliberalism in Australia. It also adopted new policies and elected a new national executive.

A panel of union militants will lead a discussion about the new challenges facing unions and unionists in the wake of the passing of the federal Coalition government's Australian Building and Construction Commission and other anti-union laws.

The 2015 Annual Report from Barwon Health revealed a budget deficit of $13 million. Barwon Health is Victoria’s largest regional health service and Geelong’s largest employer, with more than 7000 employees across all its operations.

Barwon Health’s board aims for small surpluses, but the report revealed the 2015–16 operating deficit contributed to a total net deficit of $22 million after depreciation and other capital items were accounted for.

Geelong Trades Hall announced on November 2 that Tim Gooden has formally resigned as secretary and treasurer after 11 years at the council’s helm.

Colin Vernon, formerly an Industrial Health and Safety Organiser in Geelong with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Forestry and Furniture Products Division, was endorsed as secretary.

Gooden notified Trades Hall of his decision to vacate the positions in a letter to president Jacqueline Kriz.

On October 10, 90% of poultry workers at Golden Farms processing plant in Geelong voted in favour of a protected action ballot and to reject the company's offer on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

The National Union of Workers (NUW) has been having regular meetings with delegates, as well as mass members’ meetings, over the past few weeks to canvass members’ opinions on the conditions that are most important to them and to plan a campaign to put pressure on the company.

The Geelong refinery dispute may not hold the record for the longest campaign for workers’ rights, but the dispute over safety nevertheless won due to a concerted campaign.

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