Australia

Workers' Liberty Australia

A page for and about Workers' Liberty supporters in Australia. WL Australia news Workers Liberty newsletter No 72 (Late 2019) Contents: * Change the politics to socialism. For a climate action manifesto. * Workers and trade unions, why no strike for the climate? * Climate activism for workers’ control (from Climate change activism in the workplace) * Demands on employers (from Intertwining the threads), and Organising in schools for climate action * Extinction Rebellion Lismore * Cool air, hotter climate? Design against waste * Changing the Rules under a Coalition government * John Setka and...

A shorter working week with no pay cut!

Janet Burstall argues the case from an Australian perspective. The same basic ideas are applicable in Britain and elsewhere. The most optimistic assessment by the Reserve Bank is that it will take a “few years” to reverse “much” (i.e. not all) of the increase in unemployment from the Covid-19 lockdown. The wages vs jobs trade-off debate is back with a vengeance. Unionists are arguing that keeping up incomes will stimulate demand and economic growth, while employer voices argue that they cannot afford a 4% rise in the minimum wage, and many will cut employment or go out of business. The system...

Keep the rate! No worker left behind! No harassment of the unemployed!

One of the biggest political surprises of the Australian government’s COVID-19 response was the sudden but temporary doubling of the $550 a fortnight NewStart unemployment benefit to $1100 a fortnight with a JobSeeker allowance, and the suspension of harassment through mutual obligation. The government intends to withdraw the JobSeeker top up and halve the unemployment benefit in September, in what it calls a snap-back. After 25 years of NewStart declining in real value, and repeated rejection by governments of demands for very modest increases, this is a critical moment for building working...

Australia closing borders

As part of its lockdown, Australia has banned entry to everyone other than citizens, and compelled returning citizens to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before going home. Now Kristina Kenneally, immigration spokesperson of the opposition Labor Party, has picked up on that to call for the conservative government to put tighter permanent curbs on immigration. “Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? Our answer should be no”. Some Labor MPs have complained that Kenneally was freelancing, or finessed the question by...

Australia in the pandemic

Australian unions first focussed on work health and safety in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In some workplaces unions won improved health and safety conditions, and teachers and parents have protested online against schools being kept open. Union attention quickly moved onto incomes and jobs, when Qantas stood down 20,000 workers on 18 March. The unemployment benefit was doubled on the spot, from $550 (£270) a fortnight to $1100 a fortnight, and the onerous work test was stopped. By 22 March thousands of workers who had lost their jobs were queuing for hours outside Centrelink [equivalent...

International greetings to Workers' Liberty conference, January 2020

Various communist groups, internationally, with which we have connections, sent messages for us, for our annual conference. We invite them to also send delegations where possible. We include the messages below. Workers' Liberty in Australia Your work on climate action and a socialist Green New Deal is particularly vital to us, as all round the world, the link is being made between capitalism and climate change. The specific measures needed in Australia are different, reliant as we are on coal and other mineral exports, extensive livestock and cropping in arid lands, combustion engines and...

Tackling the union bureaucracies

Trade union organisation has always tended to centre in the better-off sections of the working class. But that tendency has been sharpened in the neoliberal era by increased inequality within the working class, and union organisation receding into more limited “bastions”. In Australia — and in general — trade unions have been able to hold on to a degree in some strongholds, but in my working life, 45 years now, the influence of trade unions in society has markedly decreased. Unions have become much more bureaucratic. Most union leaders put the trends down to the anti-union laws which have been...

Bushfires burn holes in climate change denial

The current fire season, and drought, in Australia are expected to continue for months. When the fires do end, rainforests and animal habitats may never regenerate fully, and animal populations may never recover. The seeds of a socialist political response to climate change might grow out of the opposition to the government, if climate activists can develop a clear set of demands, and broaden support for a just transition. The world has seen the devastating bushfires in Australia, and the humiliation of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his failures to lead a government response. Lowlights for...

Bushfires: Community-union solidarity for climate action

The bushfire emergency is caused by climate change. Climate change is already bringing disaster. In NSW as of early December 2019 over 2.5 million hectares have been burned, over 700 homes destroyed, 3 people have died in the fires, and thousands of native creatures have been incinerated. Beyond doubt of reasonable people, we do need urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions. In relation to the bushfires we also need to protect ourselves from the dangers caused by the fires; to repair the destruction to land, health and wildlife that they have caused; to provide more resources for...

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