Jim McIlroy

GLW author Jim McIlroy

Abbott moves to stifle public service free speech

The Tony Abbott government has moved to crush the right of free speech for federal public servants. In new guidelines issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) on social media policy, employees are threatened with harsh discipline if they are "critical or highly critical of the department, the minister or the prime minister" on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, blogs or elsewhere.

Qantas workers rally to defend their jobs

Qantas workers are "very worried" about their jobs, full-time Qantas baggage handler Jim Mitropoulos told a rally of more than 100 airport workers in Tempe on March 30.

Mitropoulos has worked at Sydney Airport for 28 years. He said: "Management has destroyed this company. But if they want to bring it on, we will take them on."

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced recently that 5000 jobs would go at the airline's various facilities around the country. The rally was organised by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) to demand job security and union rights.

Government moves to sell Medibank Private

The first cab off the rank in the federal Coalition government's great privatisation push has now been confirmed: Medibank Private. Finance minister Mathias Cormann announced on March 26 that the government-owned health insurance company would be sold off through an initial public offering in the next financial year.

The announcement came just before a meeting of federal and state treasurers on March 28, which resulted in Commonwealth Treasurer Joe Hockey boasting of a "historic agreement" for the state governments to sell off billions of dollars of public assets.

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MUA, residents oppose Millers Point public housing sell-off

"We'll win this, because we'll stick together", Barney Gardner, a long-time resident of the Millers Point public housing area in inner-city Sydney, told a rally of several hundred at Argyle Place on March 25.

The rally heard a variety of speakers condemn the Barry O'Farrell NSW government for its decision to sell-off 293 public properties in the historic heartland of Sydney, following a march organised by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) from the Kent Street Fire Station.

Rally for TJ Hickey at NSW parliament

"We're back for justice. Demand justice for TJ." was the theme of a rally outside the New South Wales parliament on March 19.

Protesters demanded police accountability over the death of Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey, which occurred more than 10 years ago. Hickey died after being impaled on an iron fence in inner-city Waterloo, while being chased on his bike by a police van.

Residents protest Millers Point public housing sell-off

The Tenants' Union of New South Wales, the state's peak organisation for tenants, has condemned the proposed sell-off of 293 public housing properties at Millers Point and The Rocks, announced by the Barry O'Farrell government on March 19.

The area is the historic heartland of the city of Sydney, and was previously saved from the developers' bulldozers by residents' action and Green Bans imposed by the NSW Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s.

The case to renationalise Qantas

"The solution to Qantas's problems is being framed as a choice between lifting the level of permissible foreign ownership or a public debt guarantee,” Chad Satterlee wrote in article in the Guardian on March 3. “There is another option: renationalisation".

Electricity privatisation 'a dismal failure': union report

A report commissioned by the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) shows that energy sector privatisation in Australia has been "a dismal failure", which has produced "no benefits" for consumers, but has resulted in "large fiscal losses" for taxpayers.

Economist John Quiggin, from the University of Queensland, reviewed energy sector privatisation and the related process of electricity market reform between the early 1990s and now, and found no long-term benefits for either governments or consumers.

Macquarie Uni NTEU staff strike, picket

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at Macquarie University held a strike and picket on March 11 as part of their campaign to win a fair enterprise agreement and a quick resolution to bargaining.

Union members picketed the main entrances to the university and distributed leaflets to students and staff explaining the reasons for the strike.

Forum slams TPP secret trade deal

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) is a secret trade deal being negotiated by the governments of 12 countries, which could have serious implications for the citizens of the nations that sign.

A public forum in Sydney on March 11 hosted a panel of speakers who analysed leaked aspects of the agreement.

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