Geelong

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.

Three hundred workers assembled at the entry of the Geelong oil refinery on October 7 for a community protest against unsafe conditions at the refinery.

The 60-year-old refinery, previously operated by Shell, was bought by Viva Energy Australia in August 2014, and it immediately pledged $150 million for maintenance work.

Three hundred workers assembled at the entry of the Geelong oil refinery on October 7 to start a community protest against unsafe conditions at the refinery.

The 60-year-old refinery, previously operated by Shell has been operated by Viva Energy Australia since August 2014, with $150 million immediate pledges for maintenance work.

Geelong locals, with the support of the Geelong Trades Hall Council, plan to hold a rally at 12noon on September 2 at the office of Federal MP for Corrangamite, Sarah Henderson, to ask her to cross the floor for marriage equality. Acting Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council Colin Vernon said: “This is such an important issue for so many people and it would be nice if the Conservative Liberal government could stop playing party political games with people's lives for once and just get on with it.” The rally organisers released this statement on August 31. * * *
Members of the Teachers and Education Support Staff Alliance (TESA) have been re-elected to the state-wide council of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) in elections that took place in October. TESA also contested the four senior officer positions: branch president, branch deputy president, branch secretary and branch deputy secretary.
Former police prosecutor Peter Murrihy is the new councillor for the Kildare ward after winning the recent by-election in the Greater Geelong Council. Murrihy defeated 10 other candidates to win the safe Liberal ward with 27.41% of the primary vote. Although Murrihy said he was politically unaffiliated, he received preferences from Liberal Party member Trent Sullivan. Much was made in the local media of the fact that Murrihy put forward no political promises or commitments during his campaign.
Geelong Trades Hall Council president Jackie Kriz gave the following speech on October 12 at a rally in protest against Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons' sexism. Kriz is also a member of Socialist Alliance. *** We have to ask ourselves — is what the mayor did really that bad? I mean, he only wore a t-shirt depicting a naked lady with some captions. We've heard the comments — it's only a t-shirt, or it's political correctness gone mad. What's the fuss? It's a trivial matter. We hear this rhetoric all the time, but it is not a trivial matter.
A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest mayor Darryn Lyons’ sexism. Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a t-shirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”. Fellow Geelong councillor Jan Farrell was the first to speak out about the photos. She posted on her Facebook page: “This is what passes for leadership at Geelong. As a woman who lives and works in Geelong I am beyond offended at [Lyons’] ongoing disrespect for women.”

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