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.
WOLLONGONG — The Illawarra's peak union body, the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC), has called on the Australian government to pull troops out of Afghanistan and pursue an independent foreign policy. “In recent decades Australia has been dragged into quagmire after quagmire — blindly following the United States into military disasters that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties”, Arthur Rorris, SCLC secretary, said on October 22.
On October 20, 200 people gathered in the community of Kalkarindji to protest against the policies of the Northern Territory intervention, launched in 2007 by the Howard Coalition government. Under the intervention, Aboriginal welfare recipients in the NT have half their pay “quarantined” onto a Basics Card, which can be used only in approved stores and only for food, clothing and medical supplies.
The National Tertiary Education Union is undergoing a leadership renewal that will strengthen its progressive role on industrial and educational issues. The process will also help the NTEU on the social and environmental fronts on which it is showing leadership. Matthew McGowan, the former secretary of the union's Victorian division, has been elected as the union's new national assistant secretary. When McGowan headed the union’s Victorian division it succeeded in repelling serious attacks on staffing and educational standards at Victoria University and the University of Ballarat.
For many union leaders afraid of a Coalition victory on August 21, campaigning against Tony Abbott in the federal election simply means campaigning for Julia Gillard. With a conservative win on the cards, unions have escalated their pro-ALP campaigning. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) — which has filled Labor’s coffers with more than $340,000 for the election campaign — has enlisted officials for ring-arounds in marginal seats.