Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Protestors sing out at Sydney Opera House

Maintenance workers at the world famous Sydney Opera House are picketing opera-goers after being told they have to sign a non-union contract that strips them of up to $20,000 a year .... or face the sack.

US multinational United Group Services, has told the workers, including 38-year veteran, Steve Tsoukalas, who helped build the globally recognisable icon building , that they had to take the pay cut, and turn their backs on the union , if they want to keep his job.
The new maintenance contractor, who won the tender from the Sydney Opera House Trust, which is controlled by the NSW state Government, has taken an antagonistic attitude to the existing workforce.

They have already said they won't re-employ the union delegate or an injured staff member who is on light duties as part of a return-to-work plan.
The company has offered the remaining eight workers ongoing employment; however it is only on the condition of signing an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) which involves accepting a significant pay cut.

The workers and their union, the CFMEU, have a collective agreement with the current contractor, Lucas Stuart, who is to be punted by Opera House management in favour of the US multinational.
This multinational - United Group Services - is crying out for the workers to accep a pay cut while they are expected to post a 2005-2006 annual net profit of more than $70 million

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Friday, February 17, 2006

UN: Guantánamo Bay should close

The United States should close down its detention camp in Guantánamo Bay and give its detainees an independent trial or release them, a United Nations report released today suggests.

The 54-page report called on Washington "to close down the Guantánamo Bay detention centre and to refrain from any practice amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".

The UN commission on human rights report was based on interviews with former detainees, public documents, media reports, lawyers and a questionnaire filled out by the US government.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Victoria: 50 years anniversary of the Eight Hour Day

In 1856 Victorian stonemasons won an eight-hour working day, a world first in the struggle for improved working conditions and a fair split between work, rest and play.

At the launch of celebrations of the 150th anniversary of this milestone, Victorian Women's Affairs and Arts Minister Mary Delahunty said dividing work and family time was still the biggest challenge facing workers.

"The 150th anniversary of the Eight Hour Day campaign provides an opportunity to look at work practices and pressures and how we can get a better balance," Ms Delahunty said.

"As increasing numbers of workers clock up 50 hour weeks, working parents try to fit school pick ups, shopping, house work and child care into their demanding working lives and more people are complaining about the pressures this balancing act creates."

"150 years after the stonemasons' achievement of the eight-hour day, working time is still a major source of tension and conflict and the casualisation of the work force provides little security for families."

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

UK: 100th British soldier dies in Iraq


US 2,245
UK 100
Italy 27
Ukraine 18
Poland 17
Bulgaria 13
Spain 11
Slovakia 3
El Salvador 2
Estonia 2
Netherlands 2
Thailand 2
Denmark 2
Hungary 1
Kazakhstan 1
Australia 1
Latvia 1


Iraqi military, security and police deaths since official end of the war in June 2003 4,059
Iraqi civilians since end of war: 28,287 - 31,891


Contractors (various nationalities): 353
Journalists: 79 dead (2 missing)