FairWear action on school uniforms – 16 August 2010

Students in front of store with banner - Uniform Failure...

Students, staff, and parents from Brunswick West Primary School joined FairWear campaigners and members of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia in an action highlighting that school’s commitment to ethical uniforms, with a follow-up at the Thomastown outlet of BuxWear, where they awarded the company a ‘Fail’ report card for its use of sweatshop labour.

The purpose of the action was twofold: to shame those who who are not doing the right thing, but equally to show that there is a better option, and to give credit to those who are choosing to take it. As one of the students, her jumper carrying the Ethical Clothing Australia logo, said at the start “I’m glad my school decided to buy the jumpers of a company that pays their workers fairly. I think all companies should do the same thing.”

School Principal Louise Chocholis also spoke briefly: “The things that we believe” she said “we should live… The community really does believe that people should be paid properly.” Which is why it was important that school uniforms should be ethically endorsed, and indeed, all our clothes…

From a Media Release issued by FairWear:

Uniform Failure, Kids Demand Ethical Uniforms

100 Workers Kept in Sweatshop Conditions

A Melbourne uniform manufacturer has been flagrantly breaking Australian laws by not ensuring garment workers in its supply chain receive fair legal minimum wages and conditions.

BuxWear, a uniform manufacturer, also trading as Dandy Schoolwear and Norman W Buck & Co Pty Ltd is based in Dandenong. It also operates a store, BuxWear Direct, at 218 Settlement Rd, Thomastown.

Recent investigations have revealed that this manufacturer is in breach of minimum legal conditions for outworkers making garments. FairWear Campaign & Education Officer, Mr Riley, said, “BuxWear was prosecuted in 2005 for breaching the outwork & related provisions contained in the Award. Now they are at it again.”

“Not only are workers in the supply chain not receiving the minimum wage but they do not receive any annual leave, sick leave or superannuation contributions”, said FairWear’s Mark Riley. “We call on BuxWear to ensure the workers in this supply chain receive their full entitlements now.”

FairWear advocates that manufacturers and retailers join the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation scheme (formerly known as No Sweatshop label).

“BuxWear should demonstrate to school communities that it is treating workers in its supply chain fairly. Once they start to comply with the law, BuxWear will be just one step away from being accredited under the Ethical Clothing Australia label,” Mr Riley said.

“No parent would knowingly choose to dress their kids for school each day in clothes made under sweatshop conditions” said Mark Riley.

Many schools are making a clear choice to only source uniforms from ethical companies. Brunswick South West Primary is one school which wishes to wear its principles.

Students, staff and campaigners line up outside the school

Michele O'Neil and others outside the school

The TCFUA's Michele O'Neil was one of those who got there early ...

Ethical Clothing Australia label on students' jackets

The Ethical Clothing Australia label

Student with placard - We care for Fair Wear

Students arrive at store with 'report card'

Arriving at the store in Thomastown with the 'report card'

Giving the company the 'thumbs down'

Thumbs down for BuxWear

A shorter version of this report was published on Melbourne Indymedia, where there is also a short downloadable Flash video from the action.

See also:

Ethical Clothing Australia

FairWear

TCFUA

Walk against Warming 2010 in Melbourne – 15 August

Andrew Hewett speaking

The 2010 Walk against Warming in Melbourne was different from previous years, being in fact largely symbolic. Instead of the usual march through the city, participants, addressed here at the old City Square by Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett, gathered in three critical electorates, Melbourne, Deakin and La Trobe before engaging in a mass letter-box with a message for climate change. In central Melbourne the initial rally attracted a large than expected number, about 500, and there was a short backwards march to hightlight the direction the major parties have been taking the country.

Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria, Andrew Hewett of Oxfam, and Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation spoke, and there was a live blog on the event on the Walk against Warming website.

Photos:

Mark Wakeham

Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria

Don Henry

Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation

Representatives of the Australian Democrats

Friends of the Earth stall

Darebin Climate Action Now with images of Abbott, Gillard and Ferguson

Vegan activists with placards - Less meat = Less heat etc

Banner - Live Gently on the Earth

Greenpeace banner - Give the climate a sporting chance

Message on child's bike trailer - I want to live to 50

Placards in form of red-head matchbox cover - Rangas for Climate Action

Girl on bike - 'Greengirl'

Lineup of tricycles at back of crowd

Three ‘crowd shots’:

Array of placards

View of crowd from rear

View from above

Banner with images of Abbott and Gillard - Moving Backwards on Cliamte Change

And the crowd moving backards, to the chant of “Talk to the People, not the Polluters; Cliamte Action Now!” -

Crowd seenfrom front,  moving backwards

Media release from the organisers:

At today’s Walk Against Warming events Victorians are putting the hard word on Tony Abbot and Julia Gillard to commit to a credible climate policy that will cut greenhouse pollution in the next term of government.

Thousands of people are taking to the streets nationally as part of the Walk Against Warming. In Victoria, 1000 local people are coming together in the three key electorates of Melbourne, Deakin and La Trobe to letterbox the entire electorate with a message for action on climate change.

In the seat of Melbourne, 400 walkers will take part in a backwards march to highlight that both major parties are taking Australia backwards on climate change.

Speakers at the event will include Don Henry, Australian Conservation Foundation Executive Director and

Andrew Hewett, Oxfam Australia Executive Director.

Environment Victoria’s Campaign’s Director Mark Wakeham said today:

“Poll after poll shows that Australians want action on climate change yet just one week from the federal election both major parties are still failing to produce plans that will reduce pollution,”

“So this year we’re changing tack and taking our message straight to the people who matter the most – the voters,” he said.

This year’s The Great Suburban Walk Against Warming will gather walkers for short rallies in Melbourne, Deakin and La Trobe before the 1000 participants fan out across the suburbs to deliver leaflets asking voters to send a strong message to the next Prime Minster about climate change.

“We’ll be reaching 300,000 voters in electorates that will be key to the outcome of the election and letting them know what our leaders need to do about climate change.

“That gives Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott five days to get their act together and put a climate policy on the table that will actually make a difference to Australia’s pollution problem.”

Mr. Wakeham called on Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott to commit to replacing Australia’s most polluting power station, Hazelwood, with clean energy in the next term of government.

“There is a big opportunity here for Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott to put the money on the table to replace all of Hazelwood, to cut our pollution by three percent, and to create thousands of clean energy jobs,” he said.

The Melbourne Walk Against Warming is organised by Environment Victoria in partnership with the Australian Conservation Foundation, Oxfam Australia, Australian Ethical, Alternative Technology Association, Friends of the Earth, Hepburn Wind, Moreland Energy Foundation, the Climate Action Network Australia, World Vision, The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace.

See the Walk against Warming website

Rally for Same-Sex Marriage Rights – 14 August 2010

Equal Love banner at start of march

People who were at the 15 May rally – Melbourne’s contribution to the International Day of Action against Homophobia (reported in part on this site- were saying that it was larger and more colourful, but Saturday’s rally was still large, colourful, and very loud… It also featured an exceptionally long list of speakers, though the crowd’s patience at the State Library was only noticeably tried by ALP’s Cathy Bowtell – see below.

After the speeches there was a march, not to Parliament House this time but to the Old Treasury Building, which houses the Victorian Marriage Registry. There broadcaster and activist Jenny O’Keefe, who is also a registered marriage celebrant, performed a marriage ceremony for a large number of couples, providing each with a signed certificate, which under the present legislation will not be recognised by the state. Which brings us back to the theme of the rally.

Video footage of the day’s speeches and the march is in preparation.

Photos from the State Library:

Monique Schafter, MC, speaking

Monique Schafter, known amongst other things from the ABC’s Hungry Beast, was MC. She saw it as ‘powerful stuff’ ‘fighting for equal rights just a week before a federal election. She listed some other places around the world where same-sex marriage is a hot issue – Argentina, ‘Proposition 8′ in California, for example – while in Australia the situation has not been so positive…

Annette Xiberras speaking

Wurundjeri elder Annette Xiberras gave a moving Welcome to Country, prefacing it with an account of her own experiences of institutional and personal discrimination following the death of her partner.

Eilis Hughes speaking

Eilis Hughes from Rainbow Families Council said, amongst other things, that recent research from the University of Queensland had shown that three-quaters of queer parents wanted to be married. Some have got married overseas in countries where it is legal, but the Australian Government still wouldn’t recognise these marriages. Some don’t want to get married, but all want their kids to grown up in families that have the same status as their friends’ families. She has a three-year old, and intends to take her to her local member, Julia Gillard, to answer the child’s question ‘why aren’t you married?’. She recalled that access to IVF for lesbians had been won by people power, a sign that change can be achieved.

Anthony Bendall

Anthony Bendall, co-convener of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, acknowledged the elders of the Wurundjeri people, but also all those who had gathered [at the State Library] in the past, making the site so significant to Melbourne … [for] protest, struggle and dissent. He also referred to the recent court decision in the US. It was a national disgrace that the 2004 amendments to the Marriage Act in Australia explicitly excluded gay men, lesbians, and many bisexual, transexual and intersex people from marrying under Australian law. “The Marriage Act is underpinned by the view that our relationships and commitments are inferior and that we can never be full and equal members of Australian society. That is why it must be changed.”

Ruby Rose speaking

MTV host Ruby Rose, having got everyone to hug the person next to them, added “It’s 2010 guys, and when is the government going to start listening and realise that we should be able to get married just like anybody else?” It was not just a question for people who want to get married, but of having the option…

Adrian Li Donni

Actor and singer Adrian Li Donni sang “So Close”, even getting a reaction from the huge Julia Gillard puppet which by now had joined the gathering:

Puppet Julia Gillard

Cathy Bowtell speaking

ALP candidate for the seat of Melbourne Cathy Bowtell did her best to defend the Labor Government’s record on reform, citing changes to industrial laws, but was loudly heckled and all but shouted down when calling for the ‘hard slog of building coalitions’ etc…. There were loud calls of ‘Vote Greens’ and indeed, she was forced to make her speech against a backdrop of Greens placards.

Adam Bandt speaking

Adam Bandt – who followed Cathy Bowtell, and is the Greens candidate for the same seat – was greeted with loud cheers. He condemned the two major parties for their concentration on voters in a handfull of marginal electorates, as if the rest of the community didn’t matter. Instead of a vision for a fairer and more sustainable Australia ‘what we’ve had is a competition for who can be the toughest on asylum seekers, who can delay action on climate change the most, and who can take the most hardline and conservative position against gay marriage.’ He undertook that if elected he would make it a priority in his first term to get another vote on the Act, to remove discrimination, and that they [the Greens] would keep doing this ‘until the laws of this country recognise the very basic principle, that love is love, and love makes a family.’

Drag act Polyfilla

Polyfilla in full flight

Kathy Hughes speaking

Kath Larkin, National Union of Students Queer officer, introduced herself as ‘a second-class citizen of this country’. She had been 15 when the Howard Government passed the laws banning same-sex marriage. This had had a noticeable impact on her and her classmates: “Bigots were given a great big flashing green light, and they ran with it.” But there had been resistance, and now there is ‘overwhelming support from the majority of Australians.’ She went on to discuss the mental health aspects of discrimination – LGBTI people were at least six times more likely to commit suicide -”Homophobia kills!” – but on the other hand research in the US had shown that where same-sex marriage had been legalised, homophobic violence had decreased, and the mental and physical health of LGBTI people had improved.

Ali Hogg speaking

Ali Hogg, Melbourne convener of Equal Love, rounded off this stage of proceedings by expressing thanks to a long list of those who had helped make the day, before launching the march.

Also at the rally:

Students with placards - My school is homophobic

Representatives of the Australian Democrats

On the march:

Socialist Party banner - Workers Unite against Homophobia

Puppet Julia Gillard on the march

Arriving at the steps of the Old Treasury Building

On the steps of the Old Treasury Building

Jenny O'Keefe signing a marriage certificate

Jenny O'Keefe signing a marriage certificate

See report on Equal Love website, and there is a large collection of photos on John Wilson’s blog

Stand up for Refugees – rally 13 August 2010

Corey Oakley of RAC-Vic at Town Hall

Corey Oakley of the Refugee Action Collective speaking outside Melbourne Town Hall

Corey Oakley of the Refugee Action Collective was one of those who addressed a 500-600 strong gathering outside the Melbourne Town Hall last night at the end of a rally called by the Collective under the banner “Stand Up For Refugees”.

The rally began at the State Library with speeches from Adam Bandt,Greens candidate for the federal seat of Melbourne, followed by a representative of the Tamil refugee community who described some of his experiences of arrest and imprisonment at the hands of the Sri Lankan government, after which he sought asylum in Australia. He spent two and a half months in Maribyrnong IDC before being granted a visa. Like the next speaker, Socialist Alliance and Indigenous activist Sharon Firebrace, he drew parallels between Australia’s treatment of refugees and the long-standing racism towards the Indigenous peoples; he referred to early ‘scientific’ speculation as to whether the Aboriginal people of Australia were really human, and saw evidence of the same mindset now towards foreigners. Sharon Firebrace saw a move away from democracy in the growing inequality of treatment of Indigenous versus non-Indigenous, demonstrated most recently in the NT Intervention. Sue Bolton, who was MC for the rally, read a long catalogue of instances where Australia had ‘blood on its hands’ in its treatment of asylum seekers, including of course the SIEVX.

After the speeches at the State Library the rally took the message to the streets with a very loud march to the Town Hall, where Corey Oakley of the Refugee Action Collective echoed the earlier remark of Adam Bandt that it was, in his words, ‘scary that we should be here again’ considering that the last election had seen the Howard government thrown out amidst hopes of a better deal for refugees; Adam Bandt began his speech by saying that he wished he hadn’t had to be there, for much the same reason. The final speaker was NZ Green Party MP Keith Locke, and indeed, there was a notable Greens presence throughout, even though the banners of various socialist organisations and the Refugee Action Collective probably outnumbered the green triangles. There were also quite a few ‘non-aligned’, though not on the scale of some past rallies over the issue…

Adam Bandt speaking at State Library

Adam Bandt speaking

Sue Bolton was MC

Sue Bolton speaking at the State Library

Tamil refugee speaking at State Library

A Tamil refugee described some of his personal history

Sharon Firebrace speaking

Sharon Firebrace of Socialist Alliance

Socialist Party stall before the rally

Making a point at the Socialist Party stall

Socialist Alternative banner - No borders, no nations

Banners at the head of the march

The head of the march

Part of the contingent of Greens

Banner - close all detention centres

Banner on march- seeking asylum not illegal

Banner on march - No one is illegal

Keith Locke speaking outside Town Hall

NZ MP Keith Locke speaking outside Melbourne Town Hall

Refugees – ‘What would you do in their shoes?’ – 9 August 2010

Students lined up on GPO steps at end of event

That was the question put by students from Kilbreda College, Mentone, today in an action organised by the Refugee Action Network on the steps of the old GPO in Bourke Street. They mimed the arrival of a boatload of asylum seekers, followed by their reception, processing and eventual fate. At the same time, volunteers from the ASRC and others handed out fact sheets to passers-by, and Pamela Curr went on to recount some recent case histories and set out some facts to counter the current widespread misinformation in the community. The action attracted a good deal of attention from the midday crowds, not to mention at least three TV crews …

Placards and shoes lined up on steps of GPO

Students miming the arrival of a boat with asylum seekers

The arrival of a boat ...

Reception - 'We're full'. 'Terrorists' ...

They meet a hostile reception

Some are welcomed, others marked for return

Some are welcomed, others marked for return

Some get visas while others are held in detention

Some get visas while others are held in detention

Placard with statisics

Some of the facts on display

Signpost with keywords - visa, detention, family, safety etc

Some of the keywords

Here is the media release:

The People of Melbourne are invited to join with Year 8 students, refugee advocates, church groups, workers and community group in an installation

on the steps of the Old GPO in Bourke Street, Melbourne, at 12 midday today Monday 9 August 2010.

The Students will show us in a visual presentation how hard it is to find refuge from persecution for asylum seekers. Stories from behind the bars and wires of Australian detention centres will be read out so that Australians can hear the truth about the lives of asylum seekers and the reasons why they come seeking our protection.

Hundreds of shoes will be laid during this demonstration as a reminder of what it is to walk in the shoes of others. This action has been organized by the REFUGEE ACTION NETWORK at a time when the politicians are engaged in the politics of fear.

We will be reminding people of the facts-

that our nation of migrants has been built on and strengthened by the successive waves of people who have come to our shores to settle both by choice and out of need.

that Australia takes less than 1% of the worlds asylum seekers.

that since 1976 when the first Vietnamese boat arrived that an average of 677 people per year have arrived by boat- that this never was nor is a “flood”.

“Most Australians are lucky enough to have never known persecution and fear- we ask them to consider ‘what would you do in their shoes’ and to remember that the history of Australia is of people arriving and settling from all over the world to enrich our country.” says Pamela Curr, a member of the Refugee Action Network.

See further:

http://www.asrc.org.au/

http://www.asrc.org.au/learn-more/

Hiroshima Day in Melbourne – 6 August

Hiroshoma Day banner outside Young and Jackson

Evening rush-hour crowds at the Flinders Street/Swanston Street intersection were met by a large banner yesterday reminding them of the 45th anniversary of the destruction of Hiroshima with its attendant loss of life. The event was organised by Friends of the Earth’s ACE (Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy) collective, who were also promoting the new Choose Nuclear Free website, while handing out leaflets inviting people to take part in ICAN‘s Million Pleas campaign…
The banner made a circuit or two of the intersection before making its way partly across Princes Bridge before returning to its starting point under the clocks of Flinders Street station, a spot shared with campaigners for the Socialist Alliance, including Senate candidate Sharon Firebrace.

Banner crossing Flinders Street

Crossing Flinders Street

With Federation Square behind

Passing Federation Square

Crossing Princes Bridge

On Princes Bridge

Banner hanging from bridge

From Princes Bridge

Crossing back to the station

On the way back to the station

Placard - what to do ... kiss your children goodbye

Placard at the station

Socialist Alliance stall

The Socialist Alliance stall

Supporting the Homeless in Melbourne – 4 August 2010

Protesters outside Richard Wynne's office

With as many as 200 people sleeping rough in Melbourne’s CBD on any given night, a group calling itself Homeless Front – Stop the Suffering organised a protest outside the Smith Street office of Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne. Co-ordinator of the group is Richard Tate, who explained that they had been taking action for the past five months, focussing especially on the case of Simon, a homeless man with a terminal illness who has spent the last year with his dog outside Parliament Station. He said it was completely unacceptable that there should be a group of citizens in Melbourne today who are being completely ignored, and vowed to continue campaigning until Simon was properly housed.
Yarra Councillor Steve Jolley attended the protest. He also found it unbelievable that there should be people living on the street in a country such as Australia, including in the City of Yarra, and warned that the situation was set to become worse as existing housing was redeveloped, putting existing occupants on the street to make way for ‘yuppie apartments. Similarly, although it was a good thing that the Government was putting money into public housing, looked at more closely it became clear that the developers were the ones who were going to profit. And for example, the Carlton public housing estate would have a wall separating the public and private sections, to preserve private property values. He also drew attention to the effects recent local law changes had had on the Aboriginal people who were accustomed to meet in Smith Street: driven away from their support networks many had now been evicted from their housing and had become homeless.

The group had prepared a letter for the Minister, which a staffer agreed to deliver, carefully locking the door behind him, an action which drew expressions of disgust. As one remarked, ‘He [the Minister] doesn’t deserve to be in office.’

The same night there was to be a “Women’s Car Sleepout” to highlight the increasing problem of homelessness specifically among women, to be followed by a breakfast and media conference the following morning. Details on http://womens.thebigissue.org.au/carsleepout/
See also:

http://www.homelessnessnsw.org.au

http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/site/National%20Homeless%20Persons%20Week.php

More photos:

Steve Jolley

Steve Jolley

Richard Tate speaking

Richard Tate speaking

Steve Jolley and Richard Tate in discussion

'Stop the Suffering Now' A-frame

Other side of A-frame - 'Homeless Front'