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Residents of Fitzroy’s massive Atherton Gardens public housing estate rallied and then occupied the local office of the Housing Department on March 16.

The rally was organised by the Atherton Gardens Residents Association (AGRA) and was also attended by supporters of public housing including the Victorian Socialists.

The Victorian Socialists released this statement on the Batman byelection on March 18.

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The Labor Party has managed to retain the seat of Batman, by offering a progressive and competent candidate in Ged Kearney, after years of imposing the right-wing powerbroker David Feeney on the electorate, as part of factional deals.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) have undertaken a series of actions against the Victorian Transport Association, which held its annual conference at Lorne’s Mantra Hotel on March 19 and 20.

The actions were taken in protest over the Victorian Transport Association’s support for the Victorian International Container Terminal (VICT).

More than 100 people marched in Northcote on March 10 in support of refugee rights. The rally was called by the Refugee Action Collective to focus attention on refugees in the context of the Batman by-election.

Aziz Muhammad, who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for 5 years, spoke to the rally via skype. He spoke of the “terrible” conditions on Manus Island. The three camps where refugees are living are overcrowded. There is no proper medical care. Mental health is deteriorating, as people see no hope. Refugees have been badly beaten by local people.

Lovers of the Murray and Darling rivers gathered outside Victorian Parliament on March 7 to call on Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville to save the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan.

Both of Victoria's daily newspapers, The Age and the Herald-Sun, had front page articles on March 6 attacking the proposed enterprise agreement covering firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). This agreement is currently being voted on by MFB staff.

Firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) have begun voting on a new enterprise agreement, which includes a pay rise of 19% over four years.

The previous agreement expired in 2013.

MFB management resisted including clauses in the new agreement requiring it to consult with the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on a range of questions, such as equipment and uniforms, and clauses clearly specifying the rights of workers in relation to issues such as rosters.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide it with security services and SecureCorp has been appointed as its long-term security services provider.

Wilson Security has provided security services for the Australian government’s detention centres on Nauru since 2012 and Manus Island during 2014–17. It is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, as many inquiries and reports have shown.

About 90 Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) members at Australian Paper’s Preston envelope factory returned to work victorious on March 6 after an eight-week strike, with most of the workers’ terms being met and the rest to be negotiated.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

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