unions

The purpose of the Turnbull government is to clear every obstacle it can to help big business maximise its profits.

No environmental protection or social good is too important to be sacrificed for this goal. No surprise then that they are trying to cripple freedom of expression. For them, the more people are ignorant, confused and in fear the better.

Take these three assaults on our ability to analyse and criticise their actions.

In the lead up to and following the announcement of the plebiscite, now survey, on changing the Marriage Act, unions have played a prominent role in promoting and resourcing the Yes campaign.

Senior union officials have been speakers at rallies, there have been large union contingents at protest marches and unions — especially peak bodies such as Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions — have been providing infrastructure to help build the capacity for the campaign to ensure maximum participation and support for the Yes side.

Victorian teachers, education support staff, academics, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals will take action over the first week of May to support refugees who have been detained by the Australian government.

The “Bring them Here” action will involve four groups of unionists wearing T-shirts to work and elsewhere. The four unions will also hold a rally in the CBD.

The action was initiated by Teachers for Refugees (TFR), a rank-and-file group within the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU).

The recent elections in the Maritime Union of Australia made Bob Carnegie secretary of the Queensland branch.

Carnegie is a committed socialist who has been a union, social justice and community activist in Queensland since the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. More recently he risked prison, under the then-Campbell Newman government’s anti-union laws, leading a community campaign in defence of construction workers on the Brisbane Children’s Hospital building site.

Green Left Weekly’s Margaret Gleeson spoke to Carnegie about his plans for the union.

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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.

High Hopes
Bruce Springsteen
Columbia
Released January 17, 2014
www.brucespringsteen.net

A recent documentary on veteran US rocker Bruce Springsteen asked fans to describe their hero in three words.

The responses, compiled in the film Springsteen & I, were fairly predictable: "Badass, sensitive, perfect"; "Hope, energy, power”; “Earnest, inspiring, intense” and so on.

The non-Springsteen fans reading this could probably think of a few far less kind words. But if I were to choose three, they would be: "Open to interpretation."

The Progressive PSA (PPSA) team has won important victories in elections for the 43,000-member NSW Public Service Association (PSA). PPSA member Anne Gardiner won the top position of General Secretary, and PPSA candidates took all positions on the 45-member Central Council. A recount will be held for other executive positions following an extremely close vote.

“I used to go fishing. I used to go to community meetings. I stopped doing that. I am tired because most of the time I am doing overtime.” Gamal Babiker, Cleaner.

Cleaners working for contracting giant Spotless walked from Chadstone to Melbourne’s CBD on March 26 to highlight the brutal workloads that force them to walk the same huge distances in their jobs every single day.

More than 15,000 Community and Public Sector Union members from almost every Australian Public Service agency have voted on the CPSU's APS-wide bargaining claim. The final outcome was 14,665 (97.5%) in favour.

The claim included an APS-wide pay rise of 4%, payable from July 1, 2011, and a further 4% payable from July 1, 2012. It also included additional measures to gradually increase pay in lower paid areas. There are currently large differences in pay between different agencies.

Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory "want to work, want to have a go”, Aboriginal activist Mark Fordham told 60 people at Brisbane’s Kurilpa Hall on October 24. Fordham is a former Community Development Employment Projects co-ordinator at Ampilatwatja community and is a member of the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union.

Fordham had spent the previous two weeks touring the east coast, speaking with unions and community groups about the effect the federal government’s intervention into NT Aboriginal communities has had on employment.

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