Workers from two of the biggest crane companies in New South Wales began strike action on October 15, as their dispute for fair wages reached boiling point.
Below is an abridged version of a speech delivered by socialist unionist Robynne Murphy to this year’s ACTU Congress. Murphy spoke alongside three women from the Electrical Trades Union, who had formed the “Sparkettes”, a network to support other women in their union.
* * *
I worked at the steelworks in Port Kembla for 30 years, during which time I was involved in a long campaign with mainly migrant women for the right for women to have secure and well-paid jobs.
After an appeal process, described by activists as “plagued with allegations of corruption”, the University of Wollongong (UOW) has overturned the election result for the Wollongong Undergraduate Students’ Association (WUSA).
The elections, in which more than 1500 students voted, the biggest student participation in many years, was hotly contested between the Liberals, standing as Revolution, and a broad left group Save Our Union. It followed a year of uncertainty over whether the student union would be closed down.
Bronte Scott is an activist with Resistance and Socialist Alliance. She gave this speech to the Marriage Equality Now! rally held in Wollongong on August 27.
* * *
Thank you to Bree Parkes for inviting me to speak at this rally. My name's Bronte and I joined Socialist Alliance because it is committed to making marriage equality a reality. We have been active in the marriage equality campaign in Sydney since John Howard changed the Marriage Act in 2004 to exclude same sex couples. We believe marriage equality is a civil right.
There were chants and clicking knitting needles on June 9 as the Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) and Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN) joined concerned community members for a large, loud and long lunchtime rally outside the Commonwealth Bank in Wollongong.
They were there to tell the bank: “Don't wreck the Reef, don't wreck the climate and don't fund Adani”.
Unionists and their supporters defied a police ban on this year’s traditional May Day march with a militant march and rally of some 500 unionists and their supporters through the city’s streets on May 6.
An obstructive Wollongong City Council had blocked police approval and demanded a hefty fee for private security services.
South Coast working class icon and veteran class fighter, 95-year-old Fred Moore, proudly marched at the front. He has never missed a May Day march since his first in 1932.
Green Left Weekly interviewed Ted McAlear, former Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation (Illawarra), on April 26.
* * *
May 1 is a significant day for Ted McAlear. Ted, now 88 years of age, was a former member of the Mine Workers Union and later secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation in Port Kembla. (The WWF merged with the Seaman’s Union of Australia in 1993 to become the Maritime Union of Australia.)
Refugee rights activists in the Illawarra dropped off nearly 300 postcards at the Wollongong office of local MP Sharon Bird on November 18.
The postcards call on Labor to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres and bring the refugees to Australia.
The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) quizzed candidates in the November 12 Wollongong by-election in a Meet the Candidates knit-in on October 29.
“Right now the Stop CSG fight is neither won nor lost,” said Nanna Annie Marlow. “After passing legislation a year ago on its Strategic Release Framework the Baird government has stalled. One year on there is not a murmur from Parliament House of where they intend to allow coal seam gas mining in NSW and the Nannas are nervous because there is no area in the state that is protected.”