Labour bites

Wave Hill 50 years on

Fifty years ago, Vincent Lingiari and 200 fellow workers walked off the Wave Hill cattle station in the Northern Territory, thrusting the labour and land rights of Aboriginal workers into the national spotlight.

A protest sparked by working for rations became a successful nine year struggle for land rights, one of Australia’s most compelling stories of social change.

As it unfolded, trade union activist Brian Manning was a regular visitor to the strikers’ camp at Wattie Creek, regularly driving the 16 hours from Darwin in a Bedford truck to deliver parcels of food and letters of support from the trade union movement.

Manning passed away in 2013, and in August his son, also Brian, retraced his father’s footsteps, driving from Darwin to attend the 50th anniversary at Kalkarindji, bringing along an exact replica of Bedford truck used to run the supplies.

Transport Workers’ Union National Secretary Tony Sheldon said the presence of the replica truck and the son of Mr Manning at the commemorations was important in reminding people of the role of activism and trade unions in effecting social change. (Source: Unions NSW)

Ships of shame

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is demanding that 20 seafarers stranded aboard the Hong Kong flagged coal ship, Five Stars Fujian, be allowed to come ashore until a dispute is resolved.

The Chinese crew have been stuck aboard the ship for a month after the vessel’s owners disappeared without paying the worker’s wages or replenishing the ship’s supplies and food.

Both the ITF and the welfare agency – Mission to Seafarers – have been denied access to the ship, which is at anchorage off the coast of Gladstone. This is in contravention to international maritime law, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.

ITF Australia Acting Coordinator Matt Purcell said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was boarding the ship today with members of the Chinese Consulate.

“So far, the Australian taxpayer has been responsible for looking after the distressed crew because the owners cannot be located,” Mr Purcell said.

“This unfortunately is a common feature of international shipping, which is riddled with corruption and law breaking, because there is little to zero recourse, even when those ships are trading in Australian waters. (Source: MUA)

Union ads puts pressure on employer

In New Zealand a union based petition has been started to pressure the owner of meat processor AFFCO to settle a dispute with workers. Full page advertisements in the local press urged the company to “negotiate fairly” with workers who claim the company (AFFCO) discourages collective bargaining.

The page was paid for by Together, a digital arm of the union movement which is using online petitions and crowdfunding to raise money.

Council of Trade Unions secretary Sam Huggard says funds were raised in just two days and “thousands of people are now calling for AFFCO to negotiate fairly, and they’re making that call in Sir Peter’s local paper”, he said.

Over the last two years, there have been several disputes and court action over bargaining at some AFFCO sites in the North Island.

Andy Leonard, AFFCO’s general manager, called the campaign “typical union sleaze”. (Source:

Teachers want to stay in prisons

Angry teachers have been gathering outside the State’s Correctional Centres to protest the NSW Government’s plan to retrench prison teachers.

One teacher grew teary as she outlined her worries for the students at the minimum security prison for women who would in future be taught by two “clerical staff” instead of six university qualified teachers.

“There’s a reason people teach in the jails,” she said.

The NSW Teachers Federation is calling on Corrective Services Minister David Elliott to rethink his May 10 decision, to cut education and training services at prison complexes across NSW.

It said more than 130 of 150 teachers would be made redundant and could then apply for Clerk 5/6 positions that paid $10,000-$15,000 less than they earnt as correctional education officers.

“Those affected by the change would be considered for placement in alternative, non teaching roles,”said the Minister’s spokesperson.

“They’re recruiting the clerical positions in August, and the teachers will finally be sacked in December,” the federation’s post school organiser Phil Chadwick said.

Mr Chadwick said the Baird Government’s decision to contract out prison education services would leave prisoners unable to access the broad adult education curriculum. He worried about the quality of education if the new “teachers” had Certificate IV qualifications only. (Source: Daily Telegraph)

*To sign the petition, go to…/…/get-petition-to-parliament.html