Geelong Trades Hall

Workers gathered at Geelong Trades Hall on November 24 to raise funds for Esso maintenance workers in Longford, Victoria, who have been locked out for 170 days. Barbecues sizzled, drinks flowed and Scabby the Rat was inflated, while workers were entertained by the classic rock band, Rock n Roll Exchange.

Esso’s maintenance contractor UGL, which operates maintenance on the gas rigs in Bass Strait, ended the previous employment agreement and offered workers a new agreement with 40% less pay, worse conditions and extended rosters on the platform with no guaranteed shore breaks.

Say Yes Geelong held a local Equality Walk on September 9 to promote the Yes campaign for marriage equality. The crowd of almost 1000 people, who gathered in the centre of Geelong, was very diverse and included a number of families with young children, teachers, religious ministers, unionists, students, local council candidates, local MPs and more.

Speakers included Beth McNiven, a member of Geelong Rainbow Inc, who spoke about feelings of isolation living in a smaller town and the support she has found since moving back to Geelong.

More than 100 people attended public forums discussing the crisis in Venezuela and the need for solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution against the threat of violent right-wing opposition in Geelong and Melbourne on July 28 and 29.

The Melbourne meeting was initiated by Socialist Alliance and supported by the Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) and the El Salvadoran leftist party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.

As the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to legislate for marriage equality, councils are increasingly being called on to take a lead.

On April 26, former mayor Councillor Rose Hodge moved a motion that the Surf Coast Shire Council fly the Pride flag continuously from May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia) until the federal government passed a law in support of marriage equality.

Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Colin Vernon, along with other union and community activists raised the rainbow flag above Geelong Trades Hall on June 27. The flag symbolises support for marriage equality, the LGBTI community and Surf Coast Shire residents who have been campaigning to keep the flag flying at their local council building.

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.

Geelong Trades Hall announced on November 2 that Tim Gooden has formally resigned as secretary and treasurer after 11 years at the council’s helm.

Colin Vernon, formerly an Industrial Health and Safety Organiser in Geelong with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Forestry and Furniture Products Division, was endorsed as secretary.

Gooden notified Trades Hall of his decision to vacate the positions in a letter to president Jacqueline Kriz.

A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest mayor Darryn Lyons’ sexism.

Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a t-shirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”.

Fellow Geelong councillor Jan Farrell was the first to speak out about the photos. She posted on her Facebook page: “This is what passes for leadership at Geelong. As a woman who lives and works in Geelong I am beyond offended at [Lyons’] ongoing disrespect for women.”

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “A World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Sarah Hathway discusses the struggle and exploitation of young people in the workplace.

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There are many issues facing young people in or entering the workplace that impact not just on young people but on the broader working class as well.

A community protest and picket has been set up for a second time outside the Little Creatures Brewing factory under construction in Geelong. The picket began on October 22 but was lifted after 7 days so that negotiations could take place. The talks broke down and the picket has been reimposed since November 14.

Up to 50 Geelong workers have protested every weekday about the use of “sham contracting”.

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