Jim McIlroy

Cleaners won greater protection against unfair dismissal and loss of entitlements in a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision on July 12. FWC awarded the cleaners entitlements they had lost when they were transferred to a new company, after their former employer lost a cleaning contract with two Sydney hotels.

Mel Gatfield, NSW secretary of the cleaners' union, United Voice, said the case was "hugely significant”, not just for the 19 cleaners who have received $70,000 in redundancy payments, but for the legal precedent it sets.

Heritage items from homes in the inner west suburbs of Ashfield and Haberfield are being sold off by private contractors prior to the demolition of houses to make way for the controversial WestConnex tollway.

Contractors employed to demolish the homes are being allowed to sell valuable items including tiles, bricks, light fittings and leadlight doors and windows, according to the July 12 Inner West Courier.

"We call on the Baird state government to re-block the Waterloo towers, not knock them down," Richard Weeks, spokesperson for the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG), told Green Left Weekly on July 6. He was referring to the NSW Coalition government's plans to demolish the public housing towers in the inner suburb of Waterloo, and replace them with high-rise, private apartments.

Up to 150 residents of inner western Sydney crammed into the chambers of the now-sacked Ashfield Council to oppose the state government's dismissal of three suburban councils and their merger into an "Inner West Council" and to protest the controversial WestConnex tollway project.

They demanded that undemocratically installed one-person administrator Richard Pearson take action on his stated intention to oppose WestConnex, in line with the unanimous positions of the three sacked councils, Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville.

Several hundred students and staff of the University of Sydney marched on July 4 to oppose moves to close the Sydney University College of the Arts (SCA), and amalgamate it with the University of NSW. The students then surrounded a meeting of the University Senate, demanding the university administration end its threat to the arts college.

The university officially informed students and staff of the move to dismantle SCA, in the historic Kirkbride campus at Callan Park, Rozelle, and merge it with the UNSW Art Design and the National Art School in Darlinghurst, on June 21.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared that, if re-elected, his government still plans to present the bill reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to a joint sitting of parliament, even as Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg admitted on the ABC's Q&A program that the bill's prospects are effectively "dead".

Turnbull said on July 5 that the reason he had called a double dissolution of parliament was that it was the "only way" to revive the building industry watchdog and crack down on the militant unions.

"The Coalition government's plan is not only to privatise Medicare, but to destroy it as a universal, national healthcare system," Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney, said on July 1. "The plan is based on a form of 'creeping privatisation,' together with undermining its coverage of the majority of community health services around the country."

A farewell gathering for Venezuelan Ambassador to Australia Nelson Davila was held at the Resistance Centre on June 25. About 40 people attended the event, which was hosted by the Latin America Social Forum (LASF) and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

Chairperson Fred Fuentes explained that Davila is being recalled to Caracas after 11 years as Ambassador to Australia in Canberra. He praised Davila's role as a campaigner for the Bolivarian Revolution in addition to his diplomatic post.

"How do you exaggerate the greatest bleaching event on the planet? How do you exaggerate that one quarter of the world's largest reef is dead? You don't," Tony Fontes, a prominent Great Barrier Reef diver and tourism operator, told a crowd of up to 2000 at Steyne Park, Double Bay, in the heart of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth on June 26.

The rally was organised by a coalition of groups, including GetUp, Greenpeace, the Wilderness Society and the Nature Conservation Council.

About 500 people attended a Stop WestCONnex community rally in the inner city suburb of Rozelle on June 26 to call a halt to the project and for an end to federal funding of the controversial tollway.

The rally was organised by the WestCONnex Action Group; No WestConnex: Public Transport; Save Newtown from WestCONnex; Save Ashfield Park; and Rozelle Against WestConnex.

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