Peter Boyle

Australia's latest official unemployment figures only confirmed what everyone already knew — jobs are being destroyed by the thousands.

The announcement of Toyota's plan to close down car-making, after a decision by General Motors Holden and Ford to do the same, dominated the headlines. But a host of other lesser known manufacturing companies are also shutting down.

An unemployment rate of 6% and rising is not as bad as in other parts of the world, but it doesn't tell the full story.

On Thursday October 17, New South Wales suffered the worst outbreak of bushfires in decades. Although it is not yet summer, the day was another one of high temperatures and hot, dry gusty winds. Fires raged out of control destroying hundreds of homes and killing one 63-year-old man trying to defend his home.

Sydney city and surrounding suburbs, as well as Newcastle and Wollongong, were covered by towering smoke plumes and ash, even though the nearest bushfires were tens of kilometres away to the north, west and south. It was apocalyptic.

Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Kevin Lin, who is doing research for his PhD at the University of Technology Sydney on the labour movement in China, about the background to a new wave of strikes in the country.

Cheang Thida (pictured below) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers' basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.

The official results of the July 9 Indonesian presidential elections are not expected till at least July 22, but many unofficial “quick count” surveys and exit polls have proclaimed a winner.

Most of these unofficial polls have declared that former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) has defeated his sole challenger — sacked Suharto dictatorship general Prabowo Subianto — by a margin of up to 4%.

Where will you be on Sunday, September 21 when people all around the world plan to make their voices heard as the UN climate summit begins in New York City?

Environmental groups, trade unions, religious organisations and even some businesses have been building what is hoped will be the biggest ever people's march for climate change action.

The streets of New York will be flooded with people demanding a global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

Sixteen concerned residents of Kuantan travelled all the way from Malaysia to Sydney to protest at the November 28 shareholders' annual general meeting of an Australian rare earth mining and refining company.

Lynas Corporation's toxic refinery in the outskirts of Kuantan (population 700,000) on Malaysia's east coast is deeply unpopular with local residents and other concerned Malaysians who, together with Australian supporters, have mounted protests in Sydney at the past four AGMs.

If you listen to most Western politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that refugees are a pesky annoyance, greedy “economic refugees” from the Third World illegitimately trying to break into this wealthy country.

Their now monotonously routine scapegoating of refugees for the pain and insecurity that more and more people feel, even in the richest countries in the world, translates into plain abuse out there in the public.

"February 14 is celebrated as a day of of love by many people, but for us it is a day of grief" said one of the Aboriginal speakers at the start of the rally and march to mark the 10th anniversary of the killing of Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey in a police pursuit in Redfern. The protest began at the spot in where TJ was impaled on a fence after being thrown off his bicycle. The Hickey family, including mother Gail, where out in force. "Its been 10 long years but I am not giving up the fight," she said.

Photos below by Peter Boyle

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is a powerful right-wing lobby for big corporations, which has spearheaded the push for deregulation and privatisation in Australia for four decades.

It has also led the war on trade unions and the promotion of individual contracts to replace collective bargaining.


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