Chris Slee

GLW author Chris Slee

Firefighters rally over toxic chemicals

Firefighters rallied outside state parliament house on August 16 to demand greater support for the victims of toxic contamination at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) former Fiskville training facility.

Fiskville was closed down in 2015, but a state parliamentary enquiry found that CFA management had known about the contamination since 2010 and allowed training to continue there. The chemicals have been linked to a rise in the number of incidences of cancer and other diseases among firefighters who trained there.

United Firefighters Union commissions harassment survey

The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has commissioned a survey of bullying, harassment and discrimination within Victoria's Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA). The survey is being conducted by researchers from the University of Newcastle.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is carrying out a survey commissioned by MFB and CFA management. The UFU has advised its members not to participate in the VEOHRC survey.

Rally for sacked CUB workers

About 250 people attended a rally on August 4 in solidarity with 55 sacked maintenance workers who had been employed at the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford.

The workers, members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, were sacked on June 10. They were told they could re-apply for their jobs with a new contracting company, but that their pay would be cut by 65%.

The rally, held outside the CUB brewery, was attended by members and officials from a wide range of unions.

Firefighters vote on agreements

Mass meetings of members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on July 26 voted to endorse in principle two proposed enterprise agreements negotiated with the Victorian state government.

One agreement covers workers employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), while the other covers the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

The two agreements provide for pay rises and cover a wide range of other issues including rostering, staffing levels and occupational health and safety.

Sri Lanka: A Tamil man was just tortured, but Aus. gov't still pressuring Tamil asylum seekers to return


The children of Santhiyogu Anton, who was abducted, tortured by Sri Lankan security forces. Photo from Tamilnet.

Santhiyogu Anton, a 38 year old Tamil man, was abducted and tortured by Sri Lankan military intelligence on June 29.

After previous experiences of harassment by military intelligence, Anton had sought the assistance of the Catholic Church. He was allowed to stay at a church near the city of Mannar.

Turnbull plans attack on firefighters

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he will amend the Fair Work Act to make it possible for the federal government to block the proposed new enterprise agreement for firefighters employed by Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA).

Turnbull said he will introduce legislation in the first sitting week of the new parliament to expand the list of "objectionable terms" that cannot be included in enterprise agreements.

Disability and respite services saved in Moreland

Socialist councillor Sue Bolton convinced Moreland Council on July 13 to reinstate the after-hours Aged and Disability Home Support Services for existing clients as well as new ones.

Bolton said she was enormously grateful to the parents of children with disabilities who spoke up on behalf of all the parents who were unable to come to the meeting or who didn’t think it was possible to fight the cut.

“Those parents put a human face on the implications of a very bureaucratic cut: their stories had an impact on the other councillors”, Bolton told Green Left Weekly.

Firefighters mobilise on polling day

United Firefighters Union (UFU) members handed out leaflets at polling booths in Victorian marginal seats on election day, in an attempt to counter a Liberal scare campaign against a new enterprise agreement for UFU members employed by the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

The Liberals falsely claim that the agreement gives the UFU the power of veto over CFA management decisions, and that it would prevent volunteer firefighters from fighting fires unless seven professional firefighters were present. They claim that the agreement endangers public safety.

Firefighters challenge Liberals' scare campaign

The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has produced a TV advertisement responding to a scare campaign against a new enterprise agreement for firefighters employed by Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA). Anti-union forces claim the agreement will damage the CFA and undermine its ability to fight fires.

Tamil academic: Oppression 'normalised' in Sri Lanka

Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a law lecturer at Jaffna University, told a meeting in Melbourne on June 12 that the pervasive oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka is leading to the "normalisation of abnormalcy".

Guruparan was delivering the annual Eliezer memorial lecture, in honour of Professor C J Eliezer, a noted mathematical physicist and campaigner for Tamil rights.

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