Forests

In a clear win for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that Eureka Flags and other union banners can be flown from cranes on building sites.

The decision is another setback for the federal Coalition government and its industrial police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

As the government’s criminal case against Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon ended in embarrassing collapse, unions called for the repeal of draconian secondary boycott laws.

Sympathy strikes are one of the most common forms of secondary boycott. They involve a union taking industrial action to force a company to cease trading with another company until the targeted company agrees to industrial demands. The law against secondary boycotts thus interferes with the right of workers to campaign collectively.

Police broke up a peaceful blockade of an old growth forest logging operation at Granite Mountain in East Gippsland, Victoria, on January 31.

Conservationists from the Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO) established the blockade and for 10 days managed to prevent logging of an untouched area of old growth forest.

A man, known as Possum, who was suspended in a hammock hanging from a 10 metre tripod structure that blocked access to the logging site, was arrested. He was charged and will appear in Orbost Magistrates court in April.  

Proposed new logging rules for NSW public land will convert much of the north coast's public forests into “quasi-plantations”, reduce buffers on vital headwater streams and remove protections from most threatened animals and plants.

The proposed changes remove the need to look for and protect most threatened plants and animals. Only 14 animal species and populations are to retain their current protection, 23 will have their protection removed and 26 will have their protection significantly reduced.

Hundreds of trade unionists braved the rain at Solidarity Park, outside the WA State Parliament, on March 21 to protest against what the organisers describe as a “war on workers”.

Five Orang Asli (indigenous) activists from Gua Musang in Malaysia who were blockading forests from illegal logging operations were arrested on January 23.

Forestry officials from the state of Kelantan — which is governed by the opposition Islamic Party (PAS) — destroyed several Orang Asli blockades. This was despite the fact that on January 17 a magistrate court had cancelled the application by the logging company concerned and declared that Orang Asli have rights over their customary native land.

Production and distribution workers at Carlton & United Breweries' (CUB) Abbotsford plant in Melbourne brought the site to a standstill for three hours on August 25, threatening further action if 55 sacked workers were not reinstated. Two hundred members of United Voice and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) at the brewery held a stop-work meeting to condemn CUB's sacking of its maintenance staff and raised concerns about the impact this has had on safety standards.
The Bob Brown Foundation launched a new website, SaveBrunyIsland.org, on May 3 with a peaceful demonstration outside Hobart’s Parliament House. Conservationists held placards of the swift parrot, with an image drawn by cartoonist First Dog on the Moon. The new campaign is designed to mobilise members of the community to urge the Prime Minister and Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman, to protect all swift parrot habitat in secure reserves. The campaign will also target customers of logging company Ta Ann, asking them to reject timber logged in swift parrot habitat.
Fifty years ago building worker activists took back control of their union, the NSW Builders Labourers Federation (BLF), from a leadership clique that ignored the members. Under the new leadership of , the re-energised BLF created high standards for workplace safety, decent pay, union democracy, accountable leadership, community engagement and, most famously, Green Bans.
In all the media hype about Malcolm Turnbull's recalling of parliament in April and talk of a double dissolution election, it is easy to lose sight of the “trigger” — the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill (ABCC bill). I recently heard an ABC Radio National commentator talking about the use of the ABCC bill as the trigger. She said words to the effect that most people would be in favour of cleaning up construction unions as only 11% of workers are in unions now. So it was considered to be a winner for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Two forest activists protesting against the clearfelling of native forest in north-western Tasmania have become the first people charged under the state's controversial anti-protest laws. John Henshaw and Jessica Hoyt were part of a group of nine protesters who walked on to a Forestry Tasmania coup at Lapoinya, 37 kilometers from Burnie on January 18. About 70 other protesters have gathered at the entrance to the coup for the past week to oppose the logging.
[The Socialist Alliance National Executive on December 7.] The arrests of Victorian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) officials, state secretary, John Setka and assistant secretary Shaun Reardon, demonstrate that the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is purely a witchhunt against unions.
Clearfelling old growth forest in Tasmania. Previously destroyed for woodchips, native forests are now in danger of being burned to create electricity. Reports that the owner of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station, GDF Suez, has been considering plans to convert it into a co-firing facility, allowing it to burn native forest waste as well as brown coal, have been slammed by environmentalists.
The federal government wants to allow burning native forest waste to qualify for renewable energy subsidies under the Renewable Energy Target (RET). They reached a compromise with Labor early this month for a renewable energy target of 33 gigawatt hours (GWh). However, negotiations have since broken down due to the federal government’s fine print inclusion of burning native forest biomass in furnaces and the retention of two-yearly reviews of the RET.
Sixty people, including activists from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and ABC radio presenter Julie McCrossin, protested outside the federal government's Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit on November 12. The conference featured Liberal MPs Julie Bishop and Greg Hunt speaking to government ministers from the Asia Pacific region.
China’s Second Continent: How a million migrants are building a new Empire in Africa Howard W French Knopf Published May 20, 2014 304 pages www.howardwfrench.com In his 2009 film Rethink Afghanistan, director Robert Greenwald suggested that the US should not try to control the world through military means, but by building schools and hospitals in the countries it wishes to invade. Journalist Howard French's book China's Second Continent shows how such a model can work in practice.

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