Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What my local member Melissa Parke should do about the ABCC

[The letter below was written by Socialist Alliance member and Fremantle resident Justine Kamprad after hearing the news that South Australian rigger Ark Tribe was found not guilty on November 24.]

May Day 2010 - Scrap the ABCC

Dear Melissa Parke,

As blue collar workers, I and my partner have been involved with our unions over the last decade. In that time I have seen our unions fight for safety, dignity and a better life for our family.

I welcome the "not guilty" verdict in the trial of Ark Tribe. The fact that Mr Tribe was on trial at all is a disgrace. Laws that compel people answer questions in secret, do not guarantee people access to lawyers of their choice and other breaches of basic human rights should disgust you.

Your government refocusing the ABCC on to sham contracting or other employer crimes is not good enough; all the coercive and discriminatory powers of this body must be immediately removed. Everyday these laws exist they put fear into the hearts of construction workers who, like Mr Tribe, seek to raise basic safety issues.

Recently we have seen too many deaths in the construction and associated industries. Every death is mourned by workers like us. With recent rulings over the difference between “safety” and “industrial” disputes workers are fearful they may come under the ire of the ABCC for attempting to keep their workmates safe.

I am now 22 weeks pregnant and my partner is a safety rep in a company associated with Gorgon Project and the thought of him being the victim of a fatal or catastrophic accident fills me with fear. Fear that my child will not have the father they need as they grow up. I support every decision that he makes to stand up for workers around him to make sure that like him they go home safe. I will also support a decision, should he make it, for him to not be subject to the coercive powers of the ABCC and, like Mr Tribe, refuse to be interviewed under the coercive powers that currently exist.

I call on you to also support workers like my partner and immediately introduce a private members bill to remove all coercive and discriminatory powers of the ABCC. I believe that the test of a person is standing up for something they believe in even if it is inconvenient to their career or Party. The question I have for you now is do you believe that discrimination and coercion are wrong? If you do you must act immediately and publicly to put and end to this disgrace.


Justine Kamprad
Constituent of Fremantle Electorate.

PS I will also share this letter with others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All aboard: Fremantle road to rail

Towards a truck-free, car-free future

Speakers include:
Scott Ludlam (Greens WA senator)
Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance councillor)
Save Beeliar Wetlands representative
Ian Alexander (Fremantle Society)

Leaving behind our current roads: congested, unsafe, polluted, climate change contributors, an unsafe environment!

Travelling to the future we want: a greener, sustainable, liveable city.

How to get there: light rail to lessen car dependence, heavy rail to reduce trucks, bike paths and pedestrian zones to liven up the city.

Venue: FERN, cnr Montreal & High Sts, Fremantle

Date: 6:30pm, Tuesday 7 December 2010

Organised by Fremantle Socialist Alliance. Ph Annolies 9433 6946 or Sanna 0405 208 943,

Protect the Kimberley- Community Rally!

The Wilderness Society and the Protect the Kimberley alliance are hosting a rally in the heart of Cottesloe for the community to connect and learn about government plans for the protection and industrialisation of the Kimberley!

What: We will have guest speakers, live bands, info stalls & face painting for kids!

When: November 28th, 2010 @ 11am

Where: Cottesloe Civic Centre, Main Lawns, Perth

Wear: Red or Orange coloured clothing

This community event will bring together all of the major environment groups in WA - and it will be a great chance to take direct action and either sign a postcard or letter in support of real protection for the Kimberley.

Check out The Wilderness Society website for more info.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Join the May Day 2011 solidarity brigade to Venezuela!

April 25thMay 4th, 2011

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network invites you to observe first-hand the inspiring Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela. The sweeping social changes being carried out by Venezuela’s “people’s power” movements are radically transforming life for the majority in that country - workers, women, Indigenous people, young people and all those who have suffered the injustices of poverty, exploitation and exclusion that accompany corporate globalisation. 

Along the way, this remarkable revolution is showing the rest of the world that a more rational, socially just and sustainable future is possible.     

A special feature of the 2011 May Day brigade will be the opportunity it offers to observe the developing workers’ participation and workers’ control that is a vital part of the Venezuelan revolution, with visits to worker-run factories and cooperatives, and meetings with trade union and community management representatives in a variety of sectors and regions.

The brigadistas will also observe Venezuela’s grassroots democracy in action, with visits to the social missions, communal councils and communes. They will meet and speak with grassroots activists in the free, high-quality public health and education services; sustainable development projects; community controlled media; and women’s and Indigenous organisations. Joining the huge May Day rally in Caracas on May 1st will be a another highlight.

This brigade is the 12th solidarity and study tour organised by the AVSN. Participants’ reports and photos from previous brigades are available at

Registration and costs
The deadline for registering for the 2011 May Day solidarity brigade is February 28, 2011.
Participants will need to book their own international airfares, but the AVSN can help with advice (please do not book without contacting us to confirm the dates). The AVSN will organise all accommodation, transport and English-Spanish translation for the brigade.

People joining from Australia will need to budget for a total cost of $3500-4000, which will cover international return airfares (between $2200-2600 from Australia); all food, transport and accommodation (on a shared basis) during the brigade; and the brigade registration fee ($500 for workers or $300 for full-time students, unemployed and pensioners).

For more information about this or future brigades, please email or phone Lisa Macdonald 0413 031 108, Roberto Jorquera 0425 182 994 or John Cleary 0407 500 839. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Philosophy of Social Change

Socialist Ideas Seminar:
Philosophy of Social Change

Sun 21 November 2010
Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

1pm - cheap lunch
2pm - free seminar

Presented by Kamala Emanuel and Rudy Wentnel

Everyone experiences the pressures of capitalist decay and wants to change and improve the world.  But immediately we encounter the adamant opposition of the capitalists to any change that will affect their profits.

If we don’t take the time to think about how things change, we can become lost, like a ship without a rudder, constantly beset by these pressures.  Paying attention to philosophy is essential.

This seminar will discuss philosophy for activists. How much, if anything, do we need to know? What do we need to agree on? Is the traditional philosophy of the socialist movement ("dialectical materialism") useful today?

Western Sahara - Africa's Last colony

Film screening and discussion
Tues 16 November
6:30pm, Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

Western Sahara is the last remaining colonial case in Africa. The final status of this former Spanish colony has been at the heart of one of the continent’s longest disputes, and its fate remains undecided. Thirty years after Spain’s departure the Sahrawis are still waiting for a long-promised referendum to determine their territory’s future. For the 160,000 refugees living in camps -- many born in exile -- the stakes are high. Either they will become the 52nd African country or a province of Morocco.

The Moroccan invasion in 1975 signalled the beginning of a different kind of war. With the Spanish gone, the Sahwari people were confronted by a Moroccan army, well armed and far larger in number. The Sahrawis relied on their only advantage, which came from their Bedouin culture -- a deeply ingrained understanding of the desert terrain. They knew each rock formation and practically every tree. Against all odds, they kept fighting through 16 years of war, while their political leadership took up the struggle on the diplomatic front to gain international recognition. By 1991, with 76 countries recognizing the Sahrawis’ right to self determination, and no military victory likely, the UN negotiated a ceasefire based on the promise of a referendum that would determine the people’s wishes regarding their future status. More than a decade later, with half a billion dollars spent on a UN Mission and numerous attempts to decide who is eligible to vote, the Sahwaris believe that the UN has failed to live up to their commitments and has sided with Morocco.

This film and discussion will feature Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony and a brief segment from the 7:30 Report which shows the Australian link. Discussion will be lead by Cate Lewis from the Australian Western Sahara Association based in Melbourne.

Ph Michele 0419 942 045 or Alex 0413 976 638, 9218 9608.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fremantle Council should value council workers

Fremantle Council is grappling with the rights and conditions of the workers who it expects to implement the city’s projects. I’ve proposed a policy called “Employment Values for the City of Fremantle”. For supporters of workers’ rights, the policy is straightforward and modest.

It seeks to entrench the following principles:
1. Respecting the right of workers to union organisation and representation.
2. Limiting the use of fixed-term contracts and creating a guaranteed path to permanency.
3. Remunerating employees on the basis of equal pay and conditions for work of equal value.
4. Being a leader in “family friendly” leave and other work arrangements.
5. Placing the city in the top third of WA local governments in pay and conditions.

The policy on “equal pay and conditions for work of equal value” is the most contentious and timely. For a long time, workers at the Leisure Centre, Arts Centre and some other workplaces outside the main administration building have been on an inferior pay scale.

Typically, they are paid 20% less for work of equivalent complexity and experience. This means experienced swimming instructors get about $5 an hour less than a new starter fresh out of school at the administration building.

The relevant industry awards severely limit these workers’ access to penalty rates. The new Local Government Industry Award 2010 says recreation centre and community service workers cannot access penalty rates from 5am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday.

This is perverse. The more likely you are to have unsocial hours, the less likely you are to qualify for penalty rates.

To make it worse, these workers are on a lower pay scale.

Some local governments put all their workers on to the one pay scale, but others like Fremantle have separated some off.

These workers have copped a raw deal in the past because they share something in common with other low-paid workers; they’re mostly casual female workers with less bargaining power than other sectors. In these workplaces, 70% to 100% of staff are women.

It might be normal for our society to pay experienced women workers $16 an hour to work on a Sunday, but that doesn’t make it right.

Women have been historically undervalued in the workplace and this has led to an equal pay claim on behalf of workers across the community sector. Local government should support this movement now instead of waiting to be dragged along in its wake.

The WA Local Government Act 1995 stops elected councillors from intervening in the day-to-day operation of the organisation, including staff conditions.

This has been interpreted to mean councillors should not have an opinion on how we treat our workers.

This is both wrong and a cop out.

Council is under pressure from community expectations, councillors own worthy projects and cost shifting by the state and federal governments. It would be easy to treat staff costs as a cost like any other. But they’re not, they’re people.

As an organisation that should be serving the community, we should be in line with our community’s values. More than that, local government can be an example. This year, the Surf Coast Council in Victoria became the first employer in Australia to introduce the right to domestic violence leave for its employees.

The October Council meeting voted 5-5 (carried on the Mayor’s casting vote) to defer my policy until November. I was disappointed that it was not accepted there and then, but I’m hopeful that it will be adopted after more debate and that Fremantle Council will commit to principles of equality, fairness and social justice.

[This article is the first of a number of comment pieces by Fremantle councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright will be writing for Green Left Weekly. This one has been published here. See also Sam's Freo Report.]

Perth rally for equal marriage rights

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Perth for the fourth time this year to protest against the Labor-Liberal same-sex marriage ban. The latest rally took place on Sat 6 November and heard from speakers including Kitty Hawkins representing GALE (Gay and Lesbian Equality), Rebecca Leighton from the Greens and a representative from the State School Teachers' Union.

Most participants were young people disgusted by the government's ongoing refusal to allow same-sex couples the right to marry if they wish.

People turned up with home-made signs such as "I want hot gay sex on my honeymoon" and pointing out that Liza Minelli was able to marry two gay men in her life but that a man in Australia doesn't even have the right to marry one!

The rally was organised by Equal Love which won an award at the recent Pride parade for the best float by a small group.

Socialist Alliance had a successful stall with colourful rainbow placards saying "I support equal marriage rights".

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Generation - screening at FERN - 7pm, Thurs 4 Nov

“This is a very important film that everyone needs to see… It will change your life” John Butler, of the John Butler Trio
“The truth in this film is like a red hot poker driven into the conscience of a nation. Aboriginal voices, unheard or ignored, make it plain that they are ‘of their land’ and that they will not trade off their lawful rights. This film is a plea for reason. Are we listening? Will we act?” Jeff McMullen (former ABC Foreign Correspondent)
“If ever Australia had an Inconvenient Truth, this is it. Our Generation is a highly emotional, powerful journey into territory that we have chosen too long to ignore. This is a film every Australian needs to see.” Cathy Henkel (director of The Burning Season)
"From the ongoing controversy of the Northern Territory Intervention, to being forced off their traditional lands into larger townships crippled by social dysfunction, to their languages being removed from school education, to mining deals sidelining traditional owners, the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory are fighting for freedom.

Our Generation is their untold story; of a struggle hidden from the eyes of mainstream Australia."

-Come get informed and share ideas on how to help.

- All proceeds go to Aboriginal Rights Coalition

-donation based, suggested $5-$10

7pm at FERN, corner of High St and Montreal
NEED I SAY MORE? Bring a deck chair or a cushion as we'll be screening outside.... SEE YOU THERE.

Rally for equal marriage rights - Sat 6 Nov

Rally for marriage equality. End discrimination against LGBTI people - say no to homophobia.

Rally: 1pm, Sat 6 November
Forrest Place, Perth city. 
Organised by Equal Love WA.

We need to keep up this pressure on the government, showing them that discrimination in law is not ok and making it all the harder for them to ignore the 60% of Australians that support same-sex marriage rights (Galaxy poll).