Australia

A panel of union militants will lead a discussion about the new challenges facing unions and unionists in the wake of the passing of the federal Coalition government's Australian Building and Construction Commission and other anti-union laws.

Activists campaigning against coal seam gas have cautiously welcomed Santos’ December 8 statement that it is downgrading its controversial Narrabri Gas Project in the north west of NSW. 

For some three years, Gamilaraay people, famers and activists have been campaigning against the coal seam gas project, concerned about its potential harm on the Great Artesian Basin.

Now, they hope that Santos’ restructure is a signal that the company may be looking to extricate itself from the project.  

The Electrical Workers Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union issued the following statement on December 7 after the 55 sacked Carlton and United Brewery maintenance workers at the Abbottsford brewery voted on a resolution to the dispute that started on June 10.

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The ETU and AMWU announced today that they have reached agreement to immediately end the dispute with the maintenance workforce at the Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne, Victoria.

A community meeting in inner city Newtown, called at short notice to hear from WestConnex and a panel of traffic, heritage and health experts, attracted some 170 people on December 6.

Peter Boyle, speaking on behalf of Vivien Johnson of the newly-formed Newtown Residents Against WestConnex, opened the meeting explaining how it came about — residents being letter-boxed by Johnson informing them that WestConnex had re-routed the M4-M5 link right underneath their houses.

On December 6, 17 people taking part in a non-violent direct action against fences erected in Beeliar Lake, south of Perth, were issued with move-on orders by WA police. The next day, more people were given move-on notices.

Chris Jenkins, one of those issued with such a notice, told Green Left Weekly that the protestors were not giving up and that the atmosphere was one of “quiet determination”. They set up camp that night and are preparing to stay for a second night.

Dylan Voller, a young Aboriginal man at the centre of the torture scandal in the Don Dale youth detention centre, is threatening to go on a hunger strike over threats of abuse by guards in the Darwin Correctional Centre.

Joanne Voller, Dylan’s mother, has just visited Dylan and said he is terrified by what might happen to him if he gives evidence to the royal commission sparked by the Don Dale scandal. The commission is due to hear his testimony in the coming week.

As a dramatic and sometimes disturbing year comes to a close, Green Left Weekly’s Mat Ward, who provides new lists of political music each month, offers his top 10 political albums of the year.

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1. A.B. Original - Reclaim Australia

Because the lyrics show how Aboriginal hip-hop still shits all over white Australian hip-hop.

Who Rules The World?
By Noam Chomsky
Hamish Hamilton, 2016

Noam Chomsky, who turns 88 this month, revolutionised the study of linguistics in the second half of the 20th century, starting with books like Syntactic Structures (1957) and Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (1965). He remains professor emeritus at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

Activist filmmaker Zebedee Parkes, a member of Socialist Alliance who produces content for Green Left TV, won “best short documentary” at the 2016 Sydney Indie Film Festival for his refugee documentary For My Friend In Detention.

Irene Bolger was branch secretary of the Victorian branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation (RANF) when 20,000 nurses went on strike for 50 days in 1986. It was one of the longest strikes in Australian history and it was led by women.

Now, flipping through a stack of trade union and history books, Bolger says: “Lengthy on an international scale, it was 50 days of rage. But still I can't seem to find any reference to one of the most significant strikes in Australian history. The sexism continues."

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