Melbourne

About 2500 people rallied in Melbourne for equal marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people on August 11. A mass illegal wedding was held in defiance of the federal marriage ban.
Student activists at La Trobe University have begun a campaign against a proposal to slash funding to the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. About 150 students and staff protested at the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on July 31. Students marched to the administration building where security guards wrestled with a protester and locked the students out. Undeterred, students marched to the office of Humanities and Social Science dean Tim Murray where they were also locked out but occupied the corridor outside the office.
More than 100 students, teachers and union activists heard speakers slam private-sector training at a August 2 protest against TAFE cuts at RMIT’s city campus. Steve Roach from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union’s Health and Safety Unit said he was concerned that the decline of TAFE — and the subsequent privatisation of building industry training — would lead to unsafe working conditions. He said: “We find dodgy tickets of competency floating around our industry ... where all [the students] did was give somebody $140 and they come back in with a card the next day.”
The ALP has narrowly held on to the Victorian seat of Melbourne despite a swing to the Greens in the July 21 by-election. Greens candidate Cathy Oke won the highest primary vote, getting 36.5% to ALP candidate Jennifer Kanis’ 33.4%. But distribution of preferences gave the ALP 52% and the Greens 48%. The Greens’ vote increased by 4.6%. The Liberals did not run in the election, although a Liberal Party member running as an independent won 4.7% of the primary vote.
Activistrights.org.au was developed by the Fitzroy Legal Service as a resource for activists. Ela Orgu, the Community Development Officer at Fitzroy Legal Service said the “website aims to provide legal information for activists. It provides legal context, lots of legal information and also places to go to for support depending on what is happening and a range of case studies as well. “Activism is crucial in society. It’s an important way to keep leaders and systems and organisations in check.
MELBOURNE — Supporters of the Coles warehouse workers on strike for equal pay across the company's sites held a protest at Coles' Footscray outlet on July 14. They called on shoppers to boycott Coles until it met the workers' demands
Coles warehouse workers met two days into an indefinite strike on July 12 and voted unanimously to reject the latest offer from their direct employer Toll Logistics. Hundreds had gathered on a picket line to prevent trucks entering the site. Striking workers outside the warehouse, which owner Coles outsources to Toll, told Green Left Weekly that the offer wasn’t really “new”, but was only tweaked slightly from the old offer.
The indefinite strike by Coles warehouse workers in Somerton, Melbourne, began with a few hundred people on the picket lines from 6am on July 10. At the time of writing, no trucks have been allowed in or out of the site. Coles outsources the operation of the warehouse to Toll Logistics. Coles and Toll had expected industrial action, but they hadn’t expected that the workers would vote for an indefinite strike.
In the first construction worker rally in years, up to 10,000 workers marched through Melbourne on July 4, telling the state government to dump its new building code. Premier Ted Baillieu’s Coalition government began to implement its Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry on July 1. Unions say the new code is all about attacking unions. Building companies that fail to comply with the code on any site will be thrown off the government tender list.
About 500 Toll warehouse workers at Somerton in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have voted for an indefinite strike in their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement. The warehouse is a Coles distribution centre, but Coles outsources the workers to Toll Logistics. This has resulted in workers getting up to 20% less pay than other Coles warehouse workers.

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