Workers & unions

CAIRNS — State and federal ALP parliamentarians were sent to the rear of the Labour Day march and rally in Cairns, trailing behind about 1000 unionists and their supporters. The theme of the march was opposition to the Queensland government's privatisation plans. Far North Queensland region Electrical Trades Union organiser Stuart Traill called for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with its special interrogation powers, and other laws directed against workers in the construction industry.
MELBOURNE — At a mass meeting and protest rally outside Telstra’s main shop in Melbourne on May 5, Telstra workers voted unanimously to continue their campaign of strikes, bans and other disruptions, aimed at winning a new enterprise agreement and defeating Telstra’s attempts to discriminate against its unionised workers. Marching through the Melbourne CBD, the workers, who are members of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) communications division, demanded equal pay with the non-union workers in Telstra.
It had to happen eventually. Kevin Rudd's popularity has gone into decline, and the Labor party now trail the Liberals in the latest polls. According to a May 3 Essential Research poll, Rudd's approval rating has fallen to 46%, down from 71% a year ago. The Liberals lead Labor by 51% to 49% on a “two party preferred” basis according to polling by Newspoll published in the May 4 Australian.
Thirty people gathered on May 6 at a meeting organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The theme of the meeting was “Trade Unions and Climate Change: Challenges, Opportunities and Alliance Building”. Jeremy Kerbel, climate justice campaigner with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, outlined some of the LHMU’s climate change initiatives, such as calling hundreds of delegates in the lead-up to the 2009 Walk Against Warming and sponsoring the event.
The Socialist Alliance released the following statement in response to the developments in the anti-league tables campaign. *** The federal executive of the Australian Education Union (AEU) resolved on April 12 to impose a ban on implementing National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, after damaging league tables were published in newspapers, based on 2009 NAPLAN data. Socialist Alliance supports the principled stand against league tables taken by teachers.
We have just finished a very successful May Day brigade to Venezuela, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). The majority of the 14 participants were from Australia, with two Canadians and one from the US also taking part. May Day was, of course, a highlight of the 10-day tour: more than 1 million marchers, all in red t-shirts. Brigadistas were greeted with cheers of welcome — we were easily identified by our Australian solidarity activists shirts and banner.
The proposed “bail-out” of the Greek economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) has set off a huge struggle with worldwide implications. On May 5, as Greek parliament debated the IMF-EU package, half a million people took over the streets of Athens as part of a nation-wide general strike. It was Greece’s largest demonstration in 30 years.
Venezuelans staged a big demonstration in Caracas on May one to mark the international workers’ day, Venezuelanalysis.com said. President Hugo Chavez also announced a 15% wage increase and broader social security entitlements. “While there were no official or police estimates, various participants in the march told Venezuelanalysis they estimated that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people turned out, celebrating the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and its promotion of ... better life conditions for the poor majority.”
On May 1, international workers’ day, 500 people marched in Wollongong. Trish Corcoran from the Socialist Alliance spoke about the racist Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal communities, and the solidarity the union movement is showing with the people fighting it. Chris Cumming, from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, reported on the nasty dispute between the Tahmoor mineworkers and their employer, coal multinational Xstrata. Nearly $450 was raised at the rally for the miners.
The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) remains defiant about its ban on conducting the NAPLAN national schools test, despite the state Labor government forcing it to go before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), said the April 29 Courier-Mail. The QIRC hearing took place on April 30, after the QTU refused to abide by a direction from the commission, a week earlier, to lift its boycott of administering the tests.

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