workers' rights & unions

The Sydney University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) held a forum on campus on June 13 to discuss how to organise to rewin the right to strike.

Professor John Buchanan, from the University of Sydney Business School, told the forum: "The current Fair Work Act (FWA), introduced by the previous Labor government, is the second worst industrial relations legislation in Australian history, after John Howard's Work Choices.

Earlier this year firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) voted to endorse the proposed enterprise agreement that had been agreed on by MFB management and the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

This followed a long campaign by the union for an agreement that would protect workers' rights. UFU state secretary Peter Marshall told Green Left Weekly the agreement was endorsed by the "overwhelming majority" of firefighters.

1968 was one of those extraordinary years when millions of people were involved in trying to change the world for the better. Hall Greenland writes that the year's most compelling events took place in May and June on the streets of France.

The world was shaken by an unprecedented wave of protests and rebellions against imperialism, racism, social injustice and the lack of real democracy. 1968 has been compared to 1848 because of the sheer number of countries shaken to their foundations.

One of the most exciting developments in Melbourne recently was the launch on May 21of Hospo Voice, a new union for hospitality workers, initiated by United Voice.

Host of the event James Lea said he joined Hospo Voice last year when he was offered a job at Bar Americano for $21 an hour flat rate, no penalties.

He had a meeting with the owner of Bar Americano where he was told that “penalty rates don’t exist in Victoria anymore.”

Thousands of people flooded the streets of France to demonstrate against President Emmanuel Macron’s economic reforms on May 27. "In the name of the poor, the humiliated, the homeless and the jobless, we are telling you, 'Enough, enough of this world'," leader of the left-wing France Unbowed party, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said.

French police and protesters clashed in Paris on May 22 after unions — angered by years of public-sector pay cuts and President Emmanuel Macron's economic reforms — urged state employees to stop work and join nationwide street protests.

Riot police charged at protesters with batons in central Paris, firing stun grenades and tear gas. Police said 20 demonstrators were arrested.

The demonstration was called by the large labour unions plus many smaller ones, and involved the organisation of street rallies in about 140 cities, towns and villages across France.

The Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has decided to withdraw its financial support for federal Greens MP Adam Bandt and formally rejoin the Labor Party.

The branch disaffiliated from Labor in 2010 over the then-Kevin Rudd government's refusal to dismantle the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

I’ve been a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) member for 15 years and I cannot remember a time when the union was not portrayed as a pack of gangster-like thugs, who standover "innocent" bosses.

Somehow the nature of a tough, multi-billion dollar industry with a history of being the most dangerous in the country always gets lost in the propaganda.

So imagine my delight, along with tens of thousands of other CFMEU members, when blackmail charges against union officials John Setka and Shaun Reardon were dropped on May 16.

Hundreds of people took part in a union rally to support a fair enterprise agreement at the University of Queensland on May 10. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) organised the industrial action in support of it's campaign.

NTEU branch president Andrew Bonnell told the rally that this was his fourth experience in negotiating an enterprise agreement at UQ and that it was "getting harder" to reach a resolution due to management intransigence.

In the biggest union mobilisation in Australia in more than a decade, up to 120,000 unionists and supporters descended on the streets of Melbourne on May 9.

The protest was organised as part of the Change the Rules campaign. The rally followed a mass delegates meeting in April and was the conclusion of nearly a fortnight of union actions across the country to launch the campaign.

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