Jim McIlroy

Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane are "back in the gate now," and "normal work is proceeding" Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on January 20. Settlement of the long-running dispute which began on August 6 last year was finally achieved in December.

Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the flag for the first time in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

In the early 1880s the day was known as “First Landing”, “Anniversary Day” or “Foundation Day”. In 1946 the Commonwealth and state governments agreed to unify the celebrations on January 26 and call it “Australia Day”.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members at Patrick Stevedores terminals struck for 24 hours on January 18 at the ports of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle to demand job security and an improved enterprise agreement. The strike followed the imposition of work bans at the Port Botany site in Sydney from January 4.

One of Tony Abbott’s first acts as Prime Minister was to announce a Royal Commission to “shine a spotlight” onto the so-called “dark corners” of the trade union movement. The commission would expose the criminality and impropriety that allegedly blights Australia’s trade unions.

Led by former High Court Judge John Dyson Heydon, the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption officially began in February 2014.

The Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government has launched a new assault on the public health system. It comes in the wake of the failure of the previous Tony Abbott government to impose a $7 Medicare co-payment and a $5 surcharge on prescription medicines.

The government is now seeking to attack Medicare and the wider health system by stealth, through a series of proposed cutbacks and fee increases.

About 100 members of the Kurdish community and their supporters rallied in Sydney against the Turkish government's attacks on human rights and for Kurdish freedom on December 18. The rally was held to publicise the recent report on human rights violations in Turkey issued to mark Human Rights Week.

Residents of the Millers Point public housing area in inner-city Sydney face "Sophie's Choice" on the future of their accommodation, Chris Hinkley, of the Millers Point community working party, and a 44-year resident of the suburb, said on November 19.

He was commenting on the decision by the NSW Coalition government to offer 28 non-heritage listed apartments to the estimated 90 remaining residents, in exchange for their agreement to move out of their existing homes.

The agreement to end the longstanding dispute between Hutchison Ports and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) appears near to resolution after nearly four months of conflict.

The dispute began on August 6 with the sudden sacking by text and email of 97 waterfront workers at Hutchison's two facilities at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane.

About 200 people rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court building on November 12 to demand justice for the small community of Bulga, in the upper Hunter Valley, and an end to the expansion of the Rio Tinto Warkworth coalmine that is threatening the future of their village.

“We're all very happy and proud of our efforts in this dispute: 106 days ago we didn't have a job and now we are going back inside,” a waterfront worker at the Hutchison Port Botany community assembly told Green Left Weekly on November 19.

He was commenting on the settlement agreed between Hutchison management and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to bring to an end conclusion the long-running industrial battle over the jobs of 97 workers sacked by text and email on the night of August 6.

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