CFMEU

The Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT), south of Wollongong, locked out its 58 permanent employees without pay for five days from January 7. The move is part of the company’s ongoing drive to force workers to accept cuts to their wages and conditions.

PKCT has been in negotiations with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for a new agreement since 2015, when the previous enterprise agreement expired.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Queensland construction branch has reached an in-principle agreement that will end weekend work and increase pay and overtime rates.

The new agreement with Multiplex, Hutchinson, Watpac, Probuild and Icon complies with the federal government's building code. This prevents builders with agreements containing banned conditions, including restrictions on casual labour, union consultation arrangements and controls over rostered days off, from competing for federally-funded work.

Momentum for a new super-union has accelerated with a strong vote by members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) in favour of amalgamating with the giant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). Both unions reported an overwhelming Yes vote.

The MUA vote was 87% in favour, with 50% of members participating. This involvement is higher than past internal MUA elections for union officers.

It is approaching crunch time for the Adani mega-coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, with the movement against it growing by the day, including in areas that traditionally support mining.

In the lead up to and following the announcement of the plebiscite, now survey, on changing the Marriage Act, unions have played a prominent role in promoting and resourcing the Yes campaign.

Senior union officials have been speakers at rallies, there have been large union contingents at protest marches and unions — especially peak bodies such as Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions — have been providing infrastructure to help build the capacity for the campaign to ensure maximum participation and support for the Yes side.

Activists rallied outside the Sydney Town Hall on July 29 in solidarity with the people of Venezuela who were voting in their Constituent Assembly elections amid a wave of right-wing terror attacks.

The rally was called by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), the Latin America Social Forum (LASF) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch. It had the support of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) construction branch and formed part of the nationwide actions supporting the assembly elections in Venezuela.

Unions NSW: Wage theft the new business model

A Unions NSW report Lighting up the black market: Enforcing minimum wages, released on July 17, found 80% of a sample of online job advertisements in Korean, Chinese and Spanish publications around the country paid below award rates.

The Victorian government announced on July 3 it had made an in-principle deal to buy the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) timber mill. The deal to save Australia's largest hardwood mill could cost taxpayers up to $50 million.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has re-launched his verbal war against his successor Malcolm Turnbull, with obvious relish.

In recent speeches, Abbott criticised leaked internal Liberal Party moves to bring forward a bill for marriage equality; called for an end to all new spending except for national security and infrastructure; and advocated freezing the country's — already inadequate — renewable energy target.

About 200 people rallied at Town Hall Square to protest the federal government's proposed new citizenship laws. The new laws extend the residential waiting period for citizenship and raise the standard of the English-language test.

The existing law requires a minimum of four years of continuous residence, with at least one further year as a permanent resident, to qualify for citizenship. The new law would require people to wait four years after becoming permanent residents.

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