A dirty business

Jessica Lenehan The rort goes like this. A cleaning firm wins a contract to clean a big office building. Its tender allows for wages of about $25 an hour for the cleaners. The firm then hires “subcontractors” to do the cleaning and pays them something much less, say $15 an hour. The margin leaves room to undercut the competition and pocket the balance. At $15 an hour, the cleaner is missing out on more than $15,000 annuall...CONTINUE READING

Big corporations’ carbon emissions skyrocket

Kate Jeffreys A new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) reveals that just 50 corporations produce 73 percent of the carbon emissions of the world’s 500 largest companies. The Global 500 climate change report 2013 identifies ExxonMobil, the biggest of the oil giants, as one of the worst offenders. Exxon is already infamous for environmental devastation in Alaska, mass murder in Aceh and funding junk science in...CONTINUE READING

Women’s rights under attack

Naomi Farmer The election of Tony Abbott has the conservative women-haters feeling pleased with themselves. The bigots will be mobilising on 12 October in Melbourne for their annual “March for the Babies”. It will be a display of hatred for women’s rights masked as concern for the unborn. The event has been organised by Victorian Liberal Party MP Bernie Finn. Its stated aim is to overturn the Abortion Law Reform Act, pa...CONTINUE READING

Big rallies blast WA education cuts

Nick Everett At least 15,000 teachers, education assistants, school support staff, parents and children rallied at Perth’s Gloucester Park racecourse on 19 September, in protest at the Barnett government’s cuts to public education. More than 60 schools closed for the morning, while 5,000 people rallied in dozens of regional centres across the state. Two hundred thousand students stayed away from school, according to Edu...CONTINUE READING

Freedom Flotilla fulfils aim

Robert Callan Just off the coast of West Papua, away from the suspicious glare of the Indonesian Navy, two small boats met on 12 September to complete the delivery of ceremonial items – water from Lake Eyre in South Australia and ash from the fires of Aboriginal tent embassies across Australia. This was the end of long journey for participants in the West Papua Freedom Flotilla. The territory has been occupied by Indones...CONTINUE READING

Eviction by neglect at Millers Point

Lisa Moon Housing commission homes in the Sydney suburb of Millers Point are again under threat of a sell-off, as Housing NSW refuses repairs on homes to drive residents out. In 2008, when the government sold the first bundle of properties in the area, it said the sales were a “one off”. Two years later, it was selling more. Now the community is convinced that another sell-off is imminent. Residents have gathered in...CONTINUE READING

Liberals kick weakest first

Jerome Small A spokesperson for Tony Abbott has confirmed that a $1.2 billion scheme to improve wages in the aged care industry, promised by Labor, will now be junked. The scheme has yet to deliver workers their first slated pay rise. A key feature of the now defunct deal, negotiated by the Nurses’ Federation (ANMF), was that extra government funding would be made available only to aged care providers that signed an ent...CONTINUE READING

Blind Workers’ Union fights factory closures

Phoebe Kelloway "Vision Australia – keep manual labour!”, chanted protesters at the hundred-strong Blind Workers’ Union demonstration in Melbourne on Sunday, 15 September. Blind and vision-impaired workers and their supporters formed a chain of white canes that stretched the entire length of Vision Australia’s Kensington headquarters. They were protesting the charity’s plans to shut down VA Enterprises (VAE). At stake are...CONTINUE READING

Australian companies dodge textile agreement

Kim Doyle “Just take a moment to think about it, because this was an entirely preventable industrial murder.” Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia national secretary Michele O’Neil opens with this reminder about the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. She’s speaking to a Melbourne Socialist Alternative meeting on 12 September about the complicity of Australian companies in Bangladesh sweatshop lab...CONTINUE READING