Monday, February 28, 2011

AMWU: Carbon Price - Green Jobs

ELEANOR HALL: One of the key unions representing power workers today welcomed a report which says a price on carbon could lead to more than 30,000 jobs in regional Victoria over the next 20 years. The Climate Institute report says a price on carbon will create new job opportunities in all a range of clean-energy industries.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union says it's keen to harness opportunities in the renewable energy sector, as Rachel Carbonell reports.

RACHEL CARBONELL: The Climate Institute report was launched by the independent member for New England, Tony Windsor in Canberra this morning.

The chief executive of the Climate Institute, John Connor says the research shows a carbon price will lead to big growth in renewable energy jobs in Australia particularly in regional areas.

JOHN CONNOR: What we've found is a net growth in the power sector so we have looked at the ups and downs here with this transition, a net growth of some 34,000 jobs nationally so this is an important element.

We'll see numbers of scare campaigns and hypothetical about the drops against business as usual so this shows we can significantly reduce pollution, grow the economy, grow jobs.

RACHEL CARBONELL: He says the research is very detailed.

JOHN CONNOR: This is ground-breaking research which it combines not only modelling, top-down modelling in terms of the clean energy resources and opportunities that are there if we put a price on pollution and also bring on clean energy policies, but we combine that with on-ground research and discussion with business and community leaders about how we make those opportunities and turn them into reality so it is also looking at the skills and industry development policies that we need.

RACHEL CARBONELL: The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has welcomed the report. National secretary Dave Oliver says the industry must be proactive.

DAVE OLIVER: Well, our union has always viewed tackling climate change not only as a threat but an opportunity and you only have to look at the global clean technology sector in the world, is globally worth $6 trillion and that is why we have been keen to see that the government in any policy about tackling climate change ensures that our country is positioned to get in as part of that industry.

So we welcome the reports that clearly show that there are actually jobs in it if we get it right.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wisconsin: 100,000 Strong!

On a snowy Wisconsin Saturday over 100,000 union members, working families, community members, faith leaders, activist groups and concerned citizens gathered in Madison to tell Gov. Walker to stop the attacks on the middle class and kill the bill.

Despite the weather today’s rally was the biggest in the thirteen days of protests. The people of Wisconsin will continue to fight for their rights. It is time for our elected officials to show leadership, come to the table and move Wisconsin forward.


ACTU: Carbon Pricing an Important Step

25 February, 2011 | Media Release

A price on pollution is vital to open the door to investment in clean energy technologies and create jobs for future generations, and this week’s announcement by the Government, Greens and independents on a way forward is an important step towards that.

The agreement sends a positive signal to industry and workers that the Gillard Government is committed to tackling carbon pollution and the major economic reform of our generation, said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

Unions will now have a clearer framework in which to work to ensure that there is a just transition to a low-carbon economy, with compensation for low-income households and support for jobs and communities in making the adjustment.

Ms Kearney said the initial outline announced by the Prime Minister suggests that the Government understands the success of reducing pollution relies heavily on setting a price on carbon alongside complimentary measures such as investment in innovative technology and industry.

“The decision to include an interim fixed price will allow for a transitional period to support industries and business adapt to a cleaner and more energy efficient approach,” Ms Kearney said.

However, it is essential that Australia transition to a cap-and-trade to achieve pollution reduction commitments while supporting long-term structural changes in the Australian economy.

“It’s important that Australia plays a fundamental global role on this issue while also ensuring that families and communities are not disadvantaged in the process”.

“There are environmental, social and economic factors to consider and we don’t believe that market measures alone will be sufficient in achieving all the changes necessary,” Ms Kearney said.

Download File:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Unions and Indigenous Australians partnership

ACTU: 17 Feb 2011

Unions announced a new partnership with Indigenous Australians to campaign to improve the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through decent jobs and sustainable economic development.

Drawing on the tradition of the Aboriginal pastoral workers who walked off the Wave Hill Station in 1966 in protest at their poor working conditions and treatment, the ACTU pledges to work hand-in-hand with indigenous Australians to advocate for better social and economic opportunities.

“Australian unions have always stood by our Indigenous brothers and sisters,” said ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence, who opened the ACTU Indigenous Conference in Darwin. “We stood with Indigenous workers in the Wave Hill Station walk out; fighting for land rights, and stolen wages.

“But it is clear that Indigenous Australians have been left behind by the strong growth of the Australian economy over the past decade, so today we are announcing a greater emphasis and focus of the union movement on what is happening in Indigenous communities now.

“While unions have been able to achieve significant gains for members and communities though bargaining and community campaigning, thousands of Indigenous workers remain without basic rights and are usually employed in the most vulnerable and insecure types of work.

“Drawing on union principles of justice, rights for all workers, and equality, the ACTU is committed to the development of an effective partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to redress economic and social disadvantage, particularly in relation to employment.”

Mr Lawrence will today present a report on a delegation of Australian union officials that visited central Australia in November last year to observe first-hand the Northern Territory Emergency Response (“the Intervention”).

The delegation has identified shortcomings in self-determination, empowerment and representation in the Intervention. The union delegation was also told about the failures of the Community Development Employment Program, which has further entrenched Aboriginal people in economic dependency, along with the lack of opportunities for formal employment and training.

The three-day ACTU Indigenous Conference discussed an action plan for how to deal with the Intervention, for employment and for social justice.

“The courage and commitment of Gurundji people who led the walk-off at Wave Hill Station in 1966 in pursuit of equal wages and treatment must not be forgotten,” Mr Lawrence said.

“This was a pivotal moment in not only the assertion of indigenous rights, including self-determination, but in Australian workers’ rights. We have a responsibility to carry on their work, so that all Indigenous Australians experience the opportunities a First World country provides. As always, the pathway to economic development is through decent employment and workplace rights.”

Climate change: Carbon pricing agreement

Greens Senator Christine Milne says:

This will be good for the community who face out-of-control energy price rises, it will stimulate the economy, create jobs and, of course, help protect the climate which sustains us all.

However, a carbon price on its own is not going to be enough to drive real change and job-creating innovation. We will need to encourage clean alternatives with supportive policies.

Thank you so much for your support and I look forward to working with you in the coming months to make sure we get the best possible climate action.

This is a big step forward for climate action in Australia. For the first time, everybody in Australia will have a clear signal that the old, polluting ways will have to change and a new, exciting era is set to begin.

MPCCC Carbon Price Mechanism

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wisconsin Budget Protest: On Wisconsin!


Workers who are under attack—and the communities that know and respect them—have created such a powerful show of solidarity that all 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin state Senate left the Senate chambers in protest, indefinitely delaying a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-worker bill. And Republicans are starting to waver.

The electricity and energy and solidarity we’re seeing with Wisconsin workers is truly unprecedented. But it is only the beginning. Now, as one supporter said to us on Twitter, “We must keep the momentum going & growing. Now is the time & we cannot give in or up.” That’s true in Wisconsin, and it’s just as true in all our communities.

When steelworkers union president Leo Gerard spoke to the thousands rallying outside, hundreds in the crowd standing in the slush and ice waved placards his union had distributed reading: "One More Day."

"We've used that slogan through many struggles," he said.

"We know it's smart to fight when we believe we can win. What it takes is outlasting the boss by one day - fighting a day longer than he does. And that's what we all are doing now. It's how we will defeat Walker. We will fight a day longer than him, no matter how many days it takes."

His words seemed to warm the crowds, who broke out into prolonged cheering and applause.

Gerard described what he had seen minutes before when he toured the occupied Capitol.

"I saw fat, white middle-aged men like me," he said.

"But I saw them linking arms with people of every race, creed, color and age, fighting together for their rights and for a future for their children and grandchildren."

Again, the people cheered.

25 February update:

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) calls on all U.S. military service members to refuse and resist any mobilization against workers organizing to protect their basic rights. IVAW stands in solidarity with the multitude gathered in Madison, Wisconsin and many other cities to defend their unions.

Iraq Veterans Against the War to Troops: “We Are Public Employees Too!”

We believe military service members are public employees too. It is dishonorable to suggest that military personnel should be deployed against teachers, health care providers, firefighters, police officers, and other government employees, many of whom are themselves serving in the National Guard.

Workers with prior military service often seek jobs in the public sector because government agencies are the only employers that follow hiring preferences for veterans as a matter of law. According to the Army Times, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are unemployed at a rate of 15.2%, higher than the national average. The picture is even worse for African American veterans who face nearly double the rate of unemployment. Protecting the rights of workers in public sector unions ensures that veterans have a chance to secure a decent job, earning a living wage and good benefits.

Madison, WI is ground zero for a fight that will likely define the relationship between public sector unions and the governments that employ them for decades to come. Similar to the federal government's defeat of the 1980 Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike, which signaled the beginning of a thirty-year decline of real wages, benefits, and union membership for private sector workers. What happens in Madison today is likely to affect whether governments across the country can destroy a decent standard of living for public sector workers in the future.

Governor Scott Walker recently stated that he was preparing the National Guard to respond to “labor unrest” following the introduction of union-busting legislation in Wisconsin. Governor Walker has attempted to justify this attack on collective bargaining by pointing to state budget shortfalls. Missing from this explanation is an acknowledgment that these deficits have been created and exacerbated by the ongoing trillion dollar wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, federal and local governments across the U.S. are cutting back on the public sector.

Troops have been called out in the past against worker strikes, campus protests, and urban uprisings. However, recent events in Egypt and numerous examples from U.S. history have shown that service members have the power to side with the people and refuse to use violence against their fellow citizens. Troops activated for duty in Madison, WI will have to decide if public sector workers are really the enemy. IVAW says they are not and that troops should support workers fighting for decent jobs, wages, and benefits.

We know firsthand that the U.S. military is already overextended from a decade at war. Through our Operation Recovery campaign, we have been fighting for the right of our troops to heal, rather than being involuntarily redeployed with severe physical and psychological injuries. Adding another mission to an already overburdened military for the purposes of suppressing the rights of workers is irresponsible and not worthy of our service.

Robert Fisk reports from Libya

There is little food in Tripoli, and over the city there fell a blanket of drab, sullen rain. It guttered onto an empty Green Square and down the Italianate streets of the old capital of Tripolitania. But there were no tanks, no armoured personnel carriers, no soldiers, not a fighter plane in the air; just a few police and elderly men and women walking the pavements – a numbed populace. Sadly for the West and for the people of the free city of Benghazi, Libya's capital appeared as quiet as any dictator would wish.

But this is an illusion. Petrol and food prices have trebled; entire towns outside Tripoli have been torn apart by fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces. In the suburbs of the city, especially in the Noufreen district, militias fought for 24 hours on Sunday with machine guns and pistols, a battle the Gadaffi forces won. In the end, the exodus of expatriates will do far more than street warfare to bring down the regime.

I was told that at least 30,000 Turks, who make up the bulk of the Libyan construction and engineering industry, have now fled the capital, along with tens of thousands of other foreign workers. On my own aircraft out of Tripoli, an evacuation flight to Europe, there were Polish, German, Japanese and Italian businessmen, all of whom told me they had closed down major companies in the past week. Worse still for Gaddafi, the oil, chemical and uranium fields of Libya lie to the south of "liberated" Benghazi. Gaddafi's hungry capital controls only water resources, so a temporary division of Libya, which may have entered Gaddafi's mind, would not be sustainable. Libyans and expatriates I spoke to yesterday said they thought he was clinically insane, but they expressed more anger at his son, Saif al-Islam. "We thought Saif was the new light, the 'liberal'", a Libyan businessman sad to me. "Now we realise he is crazier and more cruel than his father."

Talking to Libyans in Tripoli and expatriates at the airport, it is clear that neither tanks nor armour were used in the streets of Tripoli. Air attacks targeted Benghazi and other towns, but not the capital. Yet all spoke of a wave of looting and arson by Libyans who believed that with the fall of Benghazi, Gaddafi was finished and the country open to anarchy.

While dark humour has never been a strong quality in Libyans, there was one moment at Tripoli airport yesterday which proved it does exist. An incoming passenger from a Libyan Arab Airlines flight at the front of an immigration queue bellowed out: "And long life to our great leader Muammar Gaddafi." Then he burst into laughter – and the immigration officers did the same.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Gas Rush

Watch The Gas Rush on ABC iView

NSW: Stop Power Selloff!

SMH 23 February 2011

The NSW government's sale of electricity assets is flawed and should be cancelled before it is completed on March 1, a parliamentary inquiry into the transaction has found.

The inquiry report, due to be released today, recommends that if the sale is not stopped before the election, then an incoming government should tear up the contracts.

The report questions the landmark review of the state's electricity needs used by the NSW government to justify its decision to privatise the electricity assets.

The Owen inquiry found the state's electricity needs would exceed supply by the middle of the decade and recommended privatisation to facilitate investment in new power stations. The parliamentary inquiry has found the Owen report misinterpreted data and drew conclusions that were unjustified.

The parliamentary inquiry, chaired by the Christian Democratic Party MP Fred Nile, was established after eight directors of two state-owned power companies whose assets were being sold, Delta Electricity and Eraring Energy, resigned in protest.

The report also criticises the Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, over a lack of energy policy. Mr O'Farrell has promised to establish a special commission of inquiry into the sale within 30 days if he is elected. He has said the findings will help him decide if he will try to reverse the sale. They would also guide his decision about whether to keep the generation businesses in public hands.

Treasurer Eric Roozendaal is pushing ahead with the sale of NSW power assets sale next planning that it will be settled next Tuesday, just three days before the government enters a caretaker period ahead of the March 26 state election.

The NSW government has ignored all opposition in their dash to sell off these public assets for what was trumpeted as a $3.5 billion one off payment, but has been revealed to be more like $600 million. In the process they ignore the vast majority of NSW voters who have consistently opposed any electricity selloff, they ignore NSW Labor Party policy which opposes electricity selloff and they oppose NSW unions which remain opposed to the selloff.

Who is in favour of this deal? Private electricity companies? Newspaper editors? Offshore energy conglomerates? Offshore financial consortiums and experts at asset stripping?

What will be the immediate result of this privatisation of valuable public assets? A hike in electricity prices in NSW! To the joy of the private companies that own power stations throughout the rest of Australia and the ever outstretched hands of their grasping CEOs. Who will these companies be happy to employ as they divest themselves of their productive workers? Ex-politicians perhaps!

Unions: Foot Soldiers of Democracy

Ged Kearney from The Punch

We’ve had factional thugs and faceless men, dishonourable rats and bloodsuckers, slap-downs and sabre-rattling – union officials have hit the front pages over the past week in all their rhetorical glory.

But the most startling thing to me is that these exchanges have made front-page news. A bit of argy-bargy between union leaders, politicians and bosses is fairly standard practice in Australia. And some colourful language in the mix is nothing new. It’s called open, democratic society.

The thing about unions is that they are highly democratic organisations. Every few years, every union official from workplace health and safety representative to national secretary has to go to the membership and make the case for their re-election.

Sometimes there’s a fierce contest for positions. Other times the challenge is to find someone willing to do the job.

The bread and butter of union work is extremely important, but decidedly unglamorous. It involves negotiating workplace agreements that make sure workers get proper lunch breaks, pay rates, redundancy entitlements and skills classifications; and that proper safety systems are in place and adhered to.

Having said that - the big picture matters too. That’s why union officials sometimes take to the public stage to advocate for government policy that affects the lives of working people. It can concern tax, work laws, investment in public services – or it can be to expose shameful corporate behaviour.

In these cases they are doing their job: vigorously representing the interests of the people who elected them.

A drive to increase worker representation by unions at the local aluminium-making operations of Rio Tinto is stock and trade for unions. Over the years, Rio Tinto Alcan has systematically denied workers access to and representation by unions.

The result is that many employees at the company’s smelters are paid as much as $30,000 a year less than people doing the same work at other companies. And just last month, the company was ordered by the Tasmanian Supreme Court to allow workers at its Bell Bay smelter in northern Tassie to meet with the Australian Workers’ Union to discuss their genuine health and safety concerns. Rio fought that case all the way.

A worker’s right to representation by a trade union is a basic, democratic right. Unions give individuals the collective opportunity to fight government and corporate agendas that would otherwise be vastly more powerful than theirs.

If you need convincing of the worth of free trade unions, just take a look around the world. A strong feature of oppressive regimes is an intolerance of independent trade unionism.

Egypt’s ousted Hosni Mubarak wasn’t keen. Under his regime, trade unions were under strict government control. It may have safeguarded government ministers from being called ‘dishonourable rats’, but it didn’t do a lot for workers’ rights.

Independent trade unions formed outside of the closely-controlled government were a key driver of the movement that led to Mubarak’s downfall. They will undoubtedly play an important role as a democratic society is built.

In Mexico, the independent miners’ union is coming under attack for demanding safety reforms in the extremely dangerous local industry. Members of the union are regularly harassed, persecuted and bullied for standing up for their rights.

Members of independent trade unions risk their liberty and life in countries like Iran, the Philippines and Colombia – where advocacy of basic work rights is considered such an intolerable threat that unionists are regularly locked up and killed.

We should never take our free and independent trade union movement in Australia for granted. Over the years our unions - and their sometimes colourful representatives - have contributed enormously to public life; to fair working conditions, to safer workplaces and to our healthy democracy.

Skills subsidy McMockery

Millions of dollars in training subsidies are being accepted by McDonald's and other retailers so they can teach basic skills such as using a cash register.

Dave Oliver, national secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), said employers should be providing basic training, such as using cash registers, without resorting to the public purse.

"We need to make the distinction between what are labour market programs and what are training programs," said Mr Oliver, a member of the apprenticeships taskforce.

Retailers and some employer groups have slammed calls to redirect $1.2 billion in training subsidies to manufacturing and industrial trades, after the Federal Government taskforce on apprenticeships called for a shake-up in public training subsidies.
The AMWU is campaigning to improve standards and conditions for our members working in skilled trades and in particular, improving conditions and pay for apprentices.

Government and employer inaction has seen apprentice numbers fall dramatically, while employers have been encouraged to treat apprentices as cheap labour while they try to break up trade skills to lower the skill level and pay of skilled trade workers.

The only sustainable way to drive the productivity growth we need is through proper workforce skills development, and it's selfish for employers to rely solely on the taxpayer to deliver skilled workers to their door as though they themselves had no responsibility at all.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NSW Nurses victory

9.7 per cent payrise over three years.
1400 extra nurses. 
Principle of ratios progressed.

NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) members at public hospitals and community health services around the State have overwhelmingly voted to accept a State Government pay and staffing offer, which provides a 9.7 per cent payrise, after compounding, over three years and approximately 1400 extra nurses by 2013.

At the close of voting last night (February 21) the final vote for the pay and conditions offer was 90 per cent in favour.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Japan's whaling ships should never leave port

Friday, 18 February, 2011

Greenpeace is demanding that Japan's Government finally end its commercial whaling programme and re-open an investigation into corruption scandals inside the industry, following today's announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that it has recalled its Antarctic whaling fleet from the Southern Ocean, marking the fleet's shortest ever season.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Junichi Sato, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan said; "This historic announcement confirms what we all know: that Japan's whaling serves no purpose whatsoever and the fleet has no business in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

"All the whaling programme has produced is a stockpile of thousands of tonnes of frozen whale meat, the waste of billions of Japanese taxpayer's yen, and a culture of corruption and scandal. An early return of the whaling fleet is not enough - Japan's whaling ships should never leave port again."

Polls show that over 70 per cent of Japanese people do not support distant water hunting of whales far from Japan Greenpeace has been working to expose the corruption that has helped sustain its commercial whaling programme, conducted under the guise of scientific research for years.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pete Seeger wins Grammy

Monday, February 14, 2011

Folk legend and Beacon resident Pete Seeger along with Beacon schoolchildren won a Grammy Award tonight.
The album "Tomorrow's Children" by the 91-year-old Seeger with The Rivertown Kids and produced by Appleseed Records, won in the Best Musical Album For Children category.

According to the record label, "When Beacon fourth-grade teacher Tery Udell invited Clearwater educator and singer Dan Einbender to teach her students about the Hudson, class sessions became songfests, and where there are songs, there’s Pete. He became a regular visitor to the kids’ classroom in 2007.

"The classroom gatherings and performances inevitably led to a series of recordings by Pete, Dan, musician and CD co-producer (with Dan) David Bernz, the children (known as “The Rivertown Kids”), as well as adult musicians, high schoolers and even 14 grammar school percussion students." Collaborators of the album also included Dar Williams and Seeger's wife Toshi.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Italy: 'After Mubarak, Berlusconi'

Tens of thousands women and men took to the streets of towns and cities across Italy to demand that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi step down over allegations that he paid for sex with teenagers, including one who was underage at the time.

Some five thousand trade unionists, actresses, politicians and other prominent citizens gathered in Rome's Piazza del Popolo, while smaller rallies turned out in Naples, Bari and Palermo chanting: "After Mubarak, Silvio Berlusconi."
They hoisted banners reading: "Unworthy Berlusconi, this is not my head of government," and "Italy is not a brothel."

A banner dominating the square from the Women of the South group read: "Don't call me an escort, I'm a whore. Don't call me a whore, I'm a slave."

The protest was launched after prosecutors filed a formal request for Mr Berlusconi to stand trial for alleged abuse of power and for paying a minor for sex.

Over 50,000 women have signed the Purple People manifesto "If not now, when?" which denounces "the indecent, repetitive representation of women as a naked object of sexual exchange" in corporate media.

Protest organiser Ida Poletto said: "Women in this country are denigrated by the repeated, indecent and ostentatious representation of women as a naked sexual object on offer in newspapers, on television and in advertising - it's intolerable."

Des Donley 1914 - 2011 Aboriginal Unionist

SMH 11 February 2011

Des Donley
Des Donley, a mixed-race Aboriginal taken from his mother in infancy and sent to foster families and "homes" in Queensland in the time of the disastrous "stolen generation" policy, spent much of his life hitting back. At 18, after enduring punishing working conditions - 16 hours a day, seven days a week for four years - he told an Ipswich dairy farmer what he could do with his job.

The moment was pivotal because the four years of wages kept in trust for him proved extraordinarily difficult to get. His fight for withheld wages was taken up on behalf of many and eventually the governments involved were obliged to pay out, however mean the payouts were.

...After breaking away at 18, he went to Brisbane and moved from job to job, scraping a living during the Depression. He was sacked a few times for asking for a pay rise or standing up for fellow workers. When he met a man who was both a trade unionist and a communist, he responded quickly. Never having had a family, he saw the Building Workers Industrial Union as one. Now a communist, he became a union delegate. "I was a battler and I became a battler for the battlers," he said. "If it wasn't for the unions, I would have finished up on the scrap heap, with no hope and no future. You could say, the trade union movement and the Communist Party helped me slip through the net."

... Last year, the Queensland government did give Donley a gratuity but bound him to a clause of confidentiality. Aboriginal activist Dennis O'Brien said Donley got $52,000.

Des Donley is survived by his sons Roger, Peter, Archie, Phillip and John, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Friday, February 11, 2011

India: Binayak Sen targeted

An Indian court refused bail for a human rights activist sentenced to life in prison, despite an appeal from 40 Nobel laureates.

The group issued a statement a day earlier expressing dismay over the "unjust" sentence given to Binayak Sen, a 60-year-old doctor.

In December a court found Mr Sen and two others guilty of sedition and sentenced them to life in prison.

Amnesty International said the charges were politically motivated and the trial didn't meet international standards. Mr Sen has appealed against his conviction.

He worked in villages in the backward Chhattisgarh state, rallying tribal people to fight for their social and political rights, often angering authorities.

"Dr Sen is an exceptional, courageous and selfless colleague, dedicated to helping those in India who are least able to help themselves," the Nobel laureates said in their statement, posted on a website campaigning for Mr Sen's release.

Dr. Sen's wife Dr. Ilina Sen expressed her disappointment at the court verdict. She felt there were fair grounds for bail. “We shall file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court as soon as possible,” she said

"It appears that the court has relied on the prosecution's argument of culpability by association," said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan of Amnesty International, adding he was yet to read the 34-page judgment. "The prosecution's argument was based on thin evidence and did not establish the chain of events from Dr. Sen's association with Narayan Sanyal to any actual acts of violence," he said.

In a statement prior to his conviction, Dr. Sen said he was being persecuted for highlighting police atrocities in Chhattisgarh and for opposing the Salwa Judum, a controversial State-supported anti-Maoist campaign.


Fisk: What now for Egypt?

Robert Fisk: As Mubarak clings on... What now for Egypt?

The people came to witness the end. Their leader had other ideas
Friday, 11 February 2011

To the horror of Egyptians and the world, President Hosni Mubarak – haggard and apparently disoriented – appeared on state television last night to refuse every demand of his opponents by staying in power for at least another five months. The Egyptian army, which had already initiated a virtual coup d'état, was nonplussed by the President's speech which had been widely advertised – by both his friends and his enemies – as a farewell address after 30 years of dictatorship. The vast crowds in Tahrir Square were almost insane with anger and resentment.

Mubarak tried – unbelievably – to placate his infuriated people with a promise to investigate the killings of his opponents in what he called "the unfortunate, tragic events", apparently unaware of the mass fury directed at his dictatorship for his three decades of corruption, brutality and repression.

The old man had originally appeared ready to give up, faced at last with the fury of millions of Egyptians and the power of history, sealed off from his ministers like a bacillus, only grudgingly permitted by his own army from saying goodbye to the people who hated him.


Sydney rally in solidarity with the Egyptian uprising:

Saturday 12 February, Town Hall, 12pm!/event.php?eid=146478375411409

A WAKE UP CALL TO The HUMAN RIGHTS. "Speak up for your rights"
This Protest is for those who died to change Egypt into a democratic Country. It is also for those who got injured and those who are still fighting at the Liberation Square.
We are with you fighting for the basics of Human Rights. DEMOCRACY.
From Sydney - We Salute you.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Canada: Steel protest

10,000 demonstrators converged on Hamilton to denounce U.S. Steel's corporate greed and the Harper government's failure to protect Canadian workers and pensioners. Members of the United Steelworkers have been locked out by U.S. Steel since November 2010.
10,000 manifestants se rassemblent à Hamilton pour dénoncer les attaques de U.S. Steel et la réticence du gouvernement Harper à defendre les travailleurs et les retraités canadiens.

Assange: Sydney Peace Award

Julian Assange will be honoured alongside Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama by the Sydney Peace Foundation, which awarded him with its gold medal.

The foundation's director, Stuart Rees, said the award was far more significant than the organisation's annual peace prize because it was handed out so rarely. Mr Assange will be only the fourth recipient in 14 years.

"We think the WikiLeaks revelations and the courage to persist with them is a watershed in the struggle for freedom of expression, for freedom of speech, and that for the first time in decades, if not in centuries, the secret power of governments, of military, of business, is starting to be unveiled," he said.

Professor Rees said the release of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, leaked from the US State Department, and before that of the Iraq and Afghan war logs, had had a seismic effect on the world order.

"It's as though we've been hoodwinked for several centuries - allowing the people in power to do as they like, allegedly in our interests," he said.

ACTU: Budget submission

In the ACTU Budget submission, Facing the Future, unions have identified a number of priority areas that can be addressed by the Federal Government. They include:

  • Building a fairer and more sustainable tax system, that is progressive and promotes participation and productivity improvements.
  • Increasing job and income security by delivering better jobs with good wages and conditions through collective bargaining and fairer industrial laws.
  • Planning for an ageing population, lifting the Superannuation Guarantee to 12% and ensuring more of workers’ savings end up in their post-retirement incomes.
  • Acting on climate change to ensure Australia fully participates in and benefits from the global low-carbon economy and that working families are supported during the transition.
  • Rebuilding the infrastructure of flood affected cities and regions and investing in new infrastructure to expand economic capacity and meet social needs.
  • Improving investment in education, skills and training, including apprenticeships, to establish a workforce that is suited to the future demands of Australia’s economic growth.

Gillard confirms flood levy

The federal government will impose a one-off flood levy of 0.5 per cent for middle-income earners, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says.

A levy of 0.5 per cent will be applied on taxable income between $50,001 and $100,000 and a levy of 1 per cent will be applied on taxable income above $100,000.

"Anyone earning under $50,000 will not pay the levy," Ms Gillard told the National Press Club.

"In other words it is not like the Medicare levy, which for most taxpayers applies to all their income - it is like income tax rates which apply only above certain income levels."

Someone who earns an income of $60,000 will pay just under $1 extra a week under the levy, Ms Gillard said.

"A person earning $100,000 per year will pay just under an extra $5 per week," she said.

The levy would apply only in the 2011-12 financial year and was expected to raise $1.8 billion, she said.

"People who were affected by the floods will not pay this levy.

"Anyone who receives the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment for a flood this financial year will be exempt.

"And importantly, this levy is completely separate from donations."

What you will pay a week

$50,000 - nil
$55,000 - 48 cents
$60,000 - 96 cents
$65,000 - $1.44
$70,000 - $1.92
$75,000 - $2.40
$80,000 - $2.88
$90,000 - $3.85
$100,000 - $4.81
$110,000 - $6.73
$120,000 - $8.65
$130,000 - $10.58
$140,000 - $12.50
$150,000 - $14.42
$160,000 - $16.35
$170,000 - $18.27
$180,000 - $20.19
$200,000 - $24.04

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Stop power sell-off rally Sydney

Join the loud chorus of protest against the NSW government's sale of electricity retailers and trading rights for generators that will have severe impacts on household bills, the energy workforce and the environment.

The sell off of NSW electricity is purely a policy of NSW Labor politicians, 80% of NSW voters are opposed and it is against the expressed policy of the NSW Branch of the Labor Party - it only has support from the press and their big business advertisers. It is actually a give away of very lucrative common assets so that only commercial interests will decide the price of electricity in NSW.

05 February 2011
from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Top of Martin Place, Macquarie St, Sydney

The $5.3bn sale is a disastrous deal for the people of NSW. The Upper House inquiry has lifted the lid on some of the details of the transaction despite the best efforts of the Premier to shut down the inquiry and scare off potential witnesses. Join our call for the sale to be reversed.

Speakers confirmed include: Charmaine Crowe, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (MC), David Shoebridge Greens NSW MP, Pepe Clarke, Nature Conservation Council, Sally McManus, Australian Services Union, Jess Moore, Socialist Alliance and John Kaye Greens NSW MP.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Robert Fisk in Cairo

Robert Fisk: Egypt: Death throes of a dictatorship

The Egyptian tanks, the delirious protesters sitting atop them, the flags, the 40,000 protesters weeping and crying and cheering in Freedom Square and praying around them, the Muslim Brotherhood official sitting amid the tank passengers. Should this be compared to the liberation of Bucharest? Climbing on to an American-made battle tank myself, I could only remember those wonderful films of the liberation of Paris. A few hundred metres away, Hosni Mubarak's black-uniformed security police were still firing at demonstrators near the interior ministry. It was a wild, historical victory celebration, Mubarak's own tanks freeing his capital from his own dictatorship.
In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt's chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter.