Australian News

Last month, four injured workers had their light duties suspended by Campbellfield car parts manufacturer Autoliv and were told that they should consider taking “voluntary” redundancy packages.

A snap protest was held outside the Sydney office of World Wide Fund for Nature on April 16 after WWF announced it was joining forces with the Climate Institute, the Australian Coal Association and the mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to push the federal government to make “clean” coal the centrepiece of its climate change abatement plan.

On April 1, the Sydney May Day Committee voted unanimously to accept a Unions NSW proposal to shift the traditional May Day march and rally from the first Sunday in May to Saturday May 3.

At least 100 people attended the Palestine: Global Perspective conference, held at the Victorian State Library on March 29.

Aboriginal legal aid services are to have their funding cut for the 13th year in a row, despite an election promise by the ALP that a federal Labor government would increase their funding, Trevor Christian, the director of the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, told the March 31 Sydney Morning Herald.

After a spirited march through the Adelaide CBD, 1500 unionists rallied on the steps of the South Australian parliament on April 1 to protest the state Labor government’s plans to dismantle the workers’ compensation laws.

Printing company SEP Print sacked its work force without notice after the business was put into receivership on March 20. Sixty-five workers occupied the company’s factory in south-eastern Melbourne over Easter in an attempt to secure entitlements the company owes them that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At least 100 Indigenous people were arrested in Alice Springs during “military-style” police raids on the evening of April 3, according to an April 4 media release issued jointly by Vince Forrester, an elder of the Mutitjulu community at the base of Uluru, Greg Eatock from the Sydney-based Aboriginal Rights Coalition and Marlene Hodder from the Alice-based Intervention Rollback Working Group.

Canterbury-Bankstown public school teachers will demonstrate outside Premier Morris Iemma’s Lakemba office on April 10 to express their outrage at the state Labor government’s refusal to re-negotiate a state-wide schools staffing agreement.

As part of a global day of action in solidarity with Tibetan protesters, 65 actions took place across Australia on March 31.

According to media reports, the federal ALP government intends to proceed with plans to extend uranium mining. The Uranium Industry Framework (UIF), which was set up by the previous government of John Howard and has never been disbanded, has been given a new lease of life. Resources minister Martin Ferguson was quoted in the April 2 Age newspaper as saying: “Some countries see nuclear as part of their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

On March 20, Victorian Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno found that the conditions of incarceration and transportation of 12 Melbourne men charged with terrorism-related offences were so harsh that a fair trial could not be guaranteed.

On April 1, 50 Wollongong residents rallied outside the NSW parliament in Macquarie Street, Sydney, to demand an end to corruption in the Labor-dominated Wollongong City Council (WCC). The rally, organised by the resident action group Wollongong Against Corruption (WAC), was addressed by, among others, Greens MP Sylvia Hale and NSW Liberal Party leader Barry O’Farrell.

A legal challenge by environmental group Blue Wedges to the federal government’s approval of the dredging of Port Phillip Bay was defeated in the Federal Court on March 28. Blue Wedges’ case was based on the slipshod manner in which environment minister Peter Garrett approved the project on February 6, a week after the giant dredging ship the Queen of the Netherlands arrived in Melbourne on January 29. The ship was commissioned by the Victorian government to dredge a new shipping channel in the bay.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is spreading its net further throughout the building industry in an attempt to intimidate unions from standing up for the interests of their members.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) campaign to secure wage rises for construction workers across the country has attracted fierce criticism from the federal government, which is demanding the union apply “restraint” in order to keep a lid on inflation.

The seven-member Bass Coast Shire Council, on whose land the Victorian Labor government plans to build a $3.1 billion desalination plant, voted on March 19 to drop its support for the project. In a March 20 media release, council CEO Allan Bawden

Members of the Stolen Wages Working Group (SWWG) walked out of a meeting with Queensland Indigenous affairs minister Lindy Nelson-Carr on March 25 when they were told that $21.2 million in promised extra compensation payments would be redirected to

On March 20, a 40-strong community picket blocked trucks from entering the Coburg plant of Visy Industries, the world’s largest packaging and recycling company. The picket was to protest the sacking of George Kyridis, a member of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Visy is owned by the Pratt family and employs about 8000 people in Australia, New Zealand and North America.

The Tullamarine toxic waste dump is likely to be closed permanently after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced that from February 18 no more waste would be accepted at the site, pending an inquiry.

Fifty people gathered outside of the Crown Casino on March 18 to protest Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s support of a gala dinner of the United Israel Appeal — Refugee Relief Fund (UIA), a Zionist organisation.

The WA Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) has demanded that the state government allocate adequate resources to the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) to deal with the thousands of compensation claims from members of the Stolen Generations.

Federal parliament passed the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness Bill) on March 19. The bill — which the corporate media falsely claims has brought an end to Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) — became law on March 28.

The March 25 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the site of a planned supermarket development in the northern NSW town of Moree is an Indigenous burial site.

On February 26, Forestry Tasmania, the state-government-run corporation that manages Tasmania’s forests, revealed that it had signed a 20-year deal to supply wood to Gunns Limited’s proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.

On March 13 the Victorian Legislative Assembly passed a bill to establish a relationships register, which will allow couples, regardless of gender, to be formally recognised under Victorian law. However, concerns have been raised that the proposals contain a number of serious shortcomings.

On March 8, a group of 16 Indigenous women and children were thrown out of the Haven Inn backpackers accommodation, after tourists complained to management that their presence made them feel “scared”.

On March 7 a successful community assembly of up to 150 union and community activists shut down Qantas valet parking operations at Melbourne Airport.

On March 12 the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) lodged a submission to the Fair Pay Commission calling for a $26 a week pay increase for workers covered by awards — a 4.9% increase for workers paid the minimum wage (currently $522.12 a week).

As part of a national day of action protesting against the federal government’s quarantining of the welfare payments of allegedly negligent parents within Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, 30 students and staff, mainly Aboriginal, held a protest rally outside the Centrelink office on Curtin University campus on March 12.

A lively forum reporting on the February 12 Canberra convergence for Indigenous rights drew more than 40 people in Perth and set the agenda for further campaigns.

US Labor Against War “has organised large labour contingents at every major anti-Iraq war rally over the past five years”, Kathy Black, USLAW co-convener, told a public meeting of 60 people in the CEPU Auditorium in South Brisbane on March 1. The meeting, part of an Australia-wide speaking tour by Black, was organised by the Stop the War Collective and endorsed by the Electrical Trades Union and Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament.

On March 12, 100 people joined a community assembly at the Sydney desalination plant site to protest against the sacking of a Maritime Union of Australia divers’ delegate for raising health and safety issues. It was also to protest the failure of Construction Diving Services (a subsidiary of Dempsey Industries) to negotiate a collective agreement with 14 divers on the site. Apart from MUA members, delegations from the Fire Brigades Employees Union and the Rail Tram and Bus Union attended.

A February 12-14 “national bargaining forum” of lead negotiators for the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) set a determined course for industrial and political campaigning over the next three years. Key outcomes include an aggressive bargaining strategy and a linked public policy campaign that will be both national and grassroots.

Fifty people attended the first public meeting of Cairns Action for Sustainable Transport (CAST), on March 11 at the Serbian Centre in Edge Hill. Attendees engaged in a lively discussion about improving Cairns’s public transport and bikeways.

The demands reflect important struggles facing workers and the community, including the planned sell-off of NSW power and the ongoing campaign to abolish the worst aspects of former prime minister John Howard’s Work Choices legislation.

In addition to the May 3 march and rally, the committee is organising a photo display in honour of past May Day struggles. It will be launched on May 1 in a local theatre and feature hundreds of photos, leaflets, posters, even an old “May Day queen” sash, ranging in dates from 1930s to recent years.

“On top of the Israeli and US siege of Gaza and the illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians, in the last two years, 2000 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more wounded”, Kim Bullimore, who spent eight months living in the occupied West Bank, told a public forum at the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union on March 10. The forum, organised by the International Women’s Day Collective and endorsed by the Stop the War Collective and Fair Go for Palestine, attracted 40 people.

Laws that curtailed civil liberties during the “extraordinary” and “temporary” conditions of the APEC protests last year in Sydney are likely to be made permanent, according to the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald.

Nearly 200 people filled Wollongong’s Town Hall on March 11 to demand a Royal Commission into council corruption and for the people of Wollongong to be able to exercise their democratic right to take part in the NSW local government elections, scheduled for September.

Campaign group Your Water Your Say (YWYS) has warned that Victorian state government policy will see the state “swimming in water but drowning in water bills” by 2014 if the proposed $3.1 billion desalination plant goes ahead at Wonthaggi.