Labour Bites

Teachers jailed in Jordan

In Jordan, the teachers’ union expressed concerns about how the government was handling the coronavirus crisis.

The government’s response was to arrest leading members of the union, raid the union offices and shut the union down for the next two years.

Riot police were then deployed to break up peaceful demonstrations by teachers denouncing the crackdown on trade union rights.

Education International has called for the unconditional release of the union leaders, the lifting of the ban on the union, and the guaranteeing of the fundamental rights and democratic freedoms of educators and all workers, including their freedoms of opinion, expression, assembly and association.

Please support this call by sending your message today to the Jordanian government:

Source: LabourStart

Nurses and midwives join green ban blockade

Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) committed to join the CFMEU in a public blockade to save Willow Grove, built circa 1870-80, from bulldozers.

The residence is a representative example of a Victorian Italianate two-storey villa. A much-loved local landmark, it operated as a maternity hospital for more than 30 years.

The CFMEU has placed a green ban on the two locally heritage listed buildings in Parramatta that have been earmarked for demolition to make way for the new Parramatta Powerhouse Museum.

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said the planned demolition of the two sites was devastating for the Parramatta community and the colonial history of maternity services.

Suzette Meade, a spokesperson for the North Parramatta Action Group, said Willow Grove should be left where it is.

“Just move the proposed Parramatta Powerhouse project 900 metres down the road to the enormous 30 hectare Cumberland Hospital Precinct,” Ms Meade said. “This state-owned land is far more suitable for an arts and cultural precinct with the added bonus that it doesn’t flood.”

Ms Meade said the nurses’ endorsement of the campaign to preserve the buildings had “increased the drive and passion for community and heritage supporters from all over Sydney to win the battle to save Willow Grove and St Georges Terrace”.

“Willow Grove is an exceptionally important part of the history of women’s health care at the most important time in their lives, as they give birth. Initially built by local businesswoman Annie Gallagher, wife of prominent Parramatta Alderman Thomas Gallagher, it served as a maternity hospital from 1919 to the late 1950s, which makes it so special to generations.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Suing for climate action

In the face of the government’s inaction on the climate emergency, activists are turning to lawsuits in an attempt to bring about change.

“I’m suing the government because I think they need to start telling the truth about the financial risks of climate change,” says Katta O’Donnell, a law student at La Trobe University. Last week, her lawyer, David Barnden, filed proceedings in the Federal Court in what he describes as a “world first” case.

O’Donnell, 23, is arguing that the Federal Government, in issuing sovereign bonds, failed to disclose material risks to investors. “The claim says that climate change is a material risk,” explains Barnden.

The claim is unusual, and as such it is impossible to predict how the Federal Court might rule. “It is extremely difficult to judge the prospects of success because these are test cases,” says University of Melbourne Professor Jacqueline Peel, an expert in environmental and climate change law. “They are completely novel, not just in Australia but internationally.”

Australia has a long history of environmental litigation, beginning with administrative law challenges to environmentally damaging planning approvals in the 1980s. Against this backdrop, climate change claims were an obvious next step.

However, climate litigation may not be a panacea. “Litigation can only ever be a tool, not the tool, for trying to advance climate policy,” Peel says.

But across the globe, the latest wave of climate lawsuits is causing real change. Australia is not far behind. “Some of the cases currently under way, including McVeigh and O’Donnell, these could have a transformative impact,” Peel says. “We are potentially on the cusp of something big.”

Source: The Saturday Paper