Newcastle

Dozens of climate activists sprinted across mountains of coal, swarmed a massive coal loader, locked on to critical parts of the machine and shut down the largest coal terminal in the world, in Newcastle on September 15.

On September 13, Micah Weekes, once a coal miner and now an anti-coal activist stopped a coal train heading into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle.

A former scaffolder from the Central Coast, Weekes worked in the coal industry for nearly 10 years. He said he was taking action because of the coal industry’s toxic impact on people’s health.

“You don’t have to work in the industry to get sick from this. My kids are going to get sick. It’s already happening. People in my community have reoccurring respiratory illnesses, cancers and tumours.”

Newcastle youth Ceder locked on to the side of a coal train in Newcastle, halting all supply heading into the world's largest coal port on September 7. Ceder was later cut loose and taken into police custody. This was the third protest action this week organised by Frontline Action on Coal against Australia’s coal industry and its contribution to global climate change.

Newcastle Police arrested a young man and woman for filming a peaceful protest on September 3, along with Sarah Barron, a Newcastle local, who had blocked all coal trains heading across Sandgate bridge for three hours. All three were taken into custody by around a dozen police, with the two who filmed the event being charged with “aiding and abetting”.

Barron was participating in “Act Up Newcastle” as part of the #EndCoal campaign initiated by Climate Justice group Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC), in collaboration with Newcastle Climate Justice Uprising.

Sometimes I wonder if New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance thinks he is a comedian.

“Join your union and bargain together” is the lesson from the recent pay campaign by EDI-Downer workers, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) NSW assistant secretary Corey Wright told Green Left Weekly.

A three-day strike involving mass meetings, rallies and a march of 200 workers down Newcastle’s Hunter Street, encouraged the company to start serious discussions with the union after six months of stalling.

 

I happily admit that I will take any opportunity to parade down the street waving a red flag, and the May Day march in Hamilton on Sunday will be one of those opportunities.

Since the 1850s, when the first workers’ associations were formed in the Hunter, trade unionists and their families have put their demands forward on occasions such as May Day.

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance should note the observation by Victor Hugo, the French novelist, that the worst thing a minister can do is have policies that upset people so much that they protest publicly and loudly about them.

Any one of the 1000 people who attended a rally at Belmont on February 19 could have told their own horror story of bus privatisation.

Speaking on behalf of many, several community members exposed the lie that privatised bus services make it easier for people to get around.

New mother Kimberley Anderson described how she and her three-month-old baby, on the way to a medical appointment, waited in the rain for a bus that never showed.

For another parent, Bec Cassidy, the new timetable and service cuts meant she had to change her daughter’s primary school.

Socialists polled well in the Newcastle council elections on September 9. Steve O’Brien, Samantha Ashby and Gayle Dedman won 891 votes (4.13%) in Ward 1.

Their vote was more than 4% in five of the 13 booths, with the highest being in Newcastle East at 7.5%. O’Brien also won 2.10%, or 1909 votes, for Lord Mayor.

The “Community need not developer greed” platform resonated in a context where Labor boasted it would help developers, ignoring the impact on communities.

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