workers' rights & unions

France: Amid debates, left gives solidarity to Greece

In the aftermath of the harsh deal for brutal austerity and mass privatisation imposed on Greece in the early hours of July 13, both Berlin and Paris are floating alternative “solutions” to the euro problem.

Germany, on the one hand, wants greater fiscal integration, whereas France is calling for the creation of a eurozone government as well as a dedicated finance minister.

The mainstream press is talking up the divisions between the two nations as fundamentally different perspectives on the euro — or even differences in political “culture”.

Britain: Jeremy Corbyn campaign gives voice to austerity anger

British politics is being shaken up by the shock rise of veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn to take the lead in the British Labour Party leadership contest, running on a platform against austerity and for pro-people measures such as renationalising privatised industries.

The ballot for Labour leader closes in September. The leader is elected by party members and by a new category called Labour “supporters”, which anyone can become by paying the three pounds online.

ESSO locks out maintenance workers in Victoria

Esso has locked out maintenance workers from its oil and gas plants in Victoria and its offshore platforms in Bass Strait.

The move is part of an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) dispute with members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Unions had imposed bans on overtime and call-outs as part of their campaign against Esso’s proposed changes to pay and conditions. The lockouts affect the Longford gas plant, Long Island Point and Esso's oil and gas plants in Bass Strait.

Australian inequality skewered, but few solutions found in Labor

Battlers & Billionaires: The Story of Inequality in Australia
Andrew Leigh
Black Inc. Books, 2013
210 pages, $19.99 (pb)

In Australia, notes economist and Labor MP Andrew Leigh, the poorest 20% of the population own just 1% of total household wealth. The top 20%, however, hog a fat 62%.

Greece: New measures pass, SYRIZA youth oppose deal

The Greek parliament passed a second bill on July 23 including measures needed for Greece to open negotiations over the eurozone's bailout package of 86 billion euros, TeleSUR English said that day.

Screwed by vulture funds, Puerto Rico is the US's 'Greece'

The world has been focused on the spectacle of the “Troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Union and the European Central Bank crushing the Greek people, but it is far from the only example of strong nations using a “debt crisis” to extract more wealth from those that are weaker.

A case in point is the US colony of Puerto Rico. In a June 28 New York Times interview, the governor of the Caribbean archipelago nation declared its debt of US$73 billion “is not payable. There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics. This is math.”

'Free' trade deals a corporate power grab

Three huge free trade deals are being negotiated right now, that will sacrifice workers' rights, health care and the environment across much of the world on the altar of corporate profits.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are being negotiated in secret, with privileged access for selected corporations.

Caltex charts new waters in sacking workers

The crew of Caltex oil tanker the Alexander Spirit have ended a three-week industrial dispute that began on July 2. They have set sail from Tasmania to Singapore, where the company intends to replace the Australian crew with seafarers on drastically reduced pay and working conditions.

The Alexander Spirit is the fifth tanker that primarily circuits the Australian coastline to have its crew replaced in 12 months.

NTEU: Make casual university workers permanent

Casuals now make up about half of the academic workforce in Australia’s universities. For most of them it is precarious work at its worst.

Those lucky enough to get two 13-week sessional contracts a year are unemployed academics for the other half of the year, forced to then compete with a growing precariat for temporary employment elsewhere while still at the call of their part-time employer. And the 13 weeks are not necessarily standard 35-hour weeks, they can be for as little as one hour a week.

Union opposition to Australia/China Free Trade Agreement

The union movement’s opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has ratcheted up since the agreement was signed in Canberra on June 17.

ChAFTA allows for 95% of Australian exports to China to be tariff free. These will include many agricultural products, including beef and dairy. In addition, there will be liberalisation of market access for the Australia's services sector, and investments by private companies from China under A$1.078 billion will not be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

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