Labour bites


Australian trade unionists and community activists have been organising car convoys and other coordinated actions to protest the Morrison government’s decision to leave up to 2.2 million workers out of the COVID-19 emergency JobKeeper scheme. Key priorities of the protesters include the immediate expansion of JobKeeper to cover casuals, gig workers, migrant workers, refugees, international students and many others who have been sacked or had their hours and pay cut during this crisis. In addition, they are calling for every worker to have the right to a secure residence and tenancy, access to Medicare and social security regardless of nationality or visa status, and the nationalisation of essential services in place of bailouts with no strings attached.

Australian press freedom in peril

The News Corp journalist whose house was raided by the Australian Federal Police last year, Annika Smethurst, has achieved a “small victory” in her legal battle contesting the validity of the raid. The High Court unanimously ruled the warrant was invalid but was split on whether police should be forced to hand back or destroy the seized documents. The raid was in response to a story Smethurst wrote on plans to expand the powers of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), seeking the ability to surveil Australian citizens living in Australia. The AFP’s warrant to raid the house was found invalid on a technicality, failing to specify the offence being investigated. This has prompted the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) to issue the warning that “The warrant has been quashed on a technicality but the powers that enabled the raid remain. Starkly read, this means here is no protection for public interest journalism in Australia.” The MEAA continues to call for the government to adopt Australia’s Right to Know coalition’s reform agenda for positive protection for public interest journalism and whistle blowers.


The peak body for trade unions in the United Kingdom, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), is leading calls to resolve the inequality of sick pay. Previously, there had been for many workers a three day wait to access sick pay, and the TUC has successfully lobbied the government to remove this temporarily. But the TUC says this doesn’t go far enough. At just £94.25 ($A185) a week, statutorysick pay in the UK isn’t enough to live on – and2 million people don’t earn enough to qualify.The TUC is calling on the government to introduceemergency legislation that: gives every workerthe right to statutory sick pay from the first day ofabsence; scraps the minimum earnings thresholdfor statutory sick pay; ensures sick pay is paid toworkers who have to self isolate; increases theweekly level of sick pay; provides funds to ensureemployers can afford to pay sick pay; and providesadditional support to those who miss out.