High End Fashion, Low End Ethics – Blossom Road Clothing Workers take action, 20 June 2011

Workers clutching sacks of 'money' outside Scanlan & Theodore shop

Former employees of Blossom Road knitwear factory assembled today outside Melbourne Town Hall before marching to the Scanlan & Theodore boutique in Little Collins Street in company with representatives of the Textile Clothing and Footware Union of Australia,including State Secretary Michele O’Neil. They were intent on shaming the company for its complicity in the actions of the director of Blossom Road Pty Ltd, which went into liquidation on May 19, with employees losing almost $520,000 in entitlements, including unpaid wages, annual and long service leave, notice and redundancy pay, and employer superannuation contributions. According to the TCFUA, some workers had also made voluntary superannuation payments of up to $50 per week, deducted from their pay, but this money had not been paid into their super fund. The company claimed to be unable to pay what it owed, but nevertheless reopened under another name at the same premises on May 20, with some of the terminated employees asked to resume work. Scanlan & Theodore, which had been the sole client of Blossom Road, was continuing to get their product made by the ‘new’ company.
“This new company looks like it’s being run by the sole director of Blossom Road and members of his family,” said Ms O’Neil. “This appears to be a case of ‘phoenix trading’ and that’s why we will be taking our concerns straight to the retail outlet Scanlan & Theodore” at lunchtime today.”
“The high end fashion brand Scanlan & Theodore must come forward and demonstrate they will not tolerate the low end ethics of their supplier.”

(From TCFUA media release)

Michele O'Neil speaking in front of the protesters at the store

Workers assembled as planned outside the Town Hall, along with flag-bearing unionists and other supporters, before making their way down Little Collins Street to chants of “Scanlan and Theodore, Shame on you”. Also in the group was “Bill”, representing the owner, clutching a sack of money – later, outside the store, ‘he’ was to seize still more sacks from the workers. Michele O’Neil explained the background and reasons for the action for the benefit of the media and bystanders, noting also that the union had no quarrel with the shop workers inside, and one of the sacked workers also told her story.

Workers assemble at Town Hall -"'Bill" with sacks of money

One of the workers at the megaphone

'Bill' seizing money bags from the workers

Money grabbing

End Mandatory Detention – Rally and March 7 November 2010

Banner at head of march - End Mandatory Detention

Several hundred people took part in a rally and march organised by the Refugee Advocacy Network to demand an end to the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers arriving by boat. MC Pamela Curr introduced a series of strong speakers, including a late addition to the list in the person of Malalai Joya, former member of the Parliament of Afghanistan now in exile:

Malalai Joya speaking

Her speech can be heard in full in this YouTube video:

Other speakers included Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:

Sarah Hanson-Young

Amongst other things Senator Hanson-Young said we are not yet anywhere near bringing in a more humane approach to dealing with the needs of asylum seekers. Although the government has now admitted that it does detain children and has undertaken to start to release them ‘over time’, this was a good start, ‘but nowhere near where we need to be.’ She recalled how she came to politics in 2001 over this issue, and with the election of the labor government in 2007 had thought she needed to look for another focus: ‘But since 2007 we have learned pretty quickly that promises are broken.’
She referred to the recent visit of Opposition leader Tony Abbot to Adelaide ‘to whip up fear around having a detention facility that would house families in the Adelaide hills.’ She did not believe there should be mandatory detention at all, ‘but I also do not believe that whipping up fear around the idea of having asylum
seekers in the Adelaide hills … is a responsible thing for a leader to do.’ It was time to take the politics out of it [this issue], there needed to be a consensus of all parties ‘that making politics out of the lives of vulnerable people is not right, it shouldn’t bring you votes, and we all should be a bit bigger than that…’

Next was Michele O’Neil, State Secretary, TCFUA – a union much involved with migrant women in particular:

Michele O'Neil

‘The union that I represent has a proud history of having within its ranks , within its membership, many many people that arrived in Australia as refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.’ But it was not just the TCFUA which benefitted from this diversity, rather the whole country, ‘because the workers of Australia are a migrant people who have joined with our Indigenous population to create the land we have today.’ It was therefore an extraordinary thing that we should be having this debate about how to treat current arrivals when so many of our ancestors, families and neighbours arrived in similar ways. She emphasised the need for a total ban on mandatory detention, notr piecemeal changes to policy. She acknowledged the positive step of the recent announcement about releasing children, but stressed that it was not due to take effect immediately, but by the middle of 2011, and applied only to ‘the majority’. What was there to be fearful of that it should take so long? And what did it mean to say ‘the majority’ rather than all? And the terms under which these people were to be released did not allow them to work, move freely, or choose where to live. ‘This is not living in the community in an normal sense,’ not even a return to the position pre-1993. ‘It is still a very small change to what is a fundamentally unjust and unfair system.’ And why was it needed? What was
driving the fear, paranoia and xenophobia? She read some of the facts regarding the numbers seeking asylum in Australia compared to the rest of the world, eg that in 2009 Australia received 0.6% of asylum seekers worldwide; that of 377,160 applications in 44 industrialised countries Australia received only 6170, which was 1.6%. So ‘this fear is based on inaccurate information and myth …. people that want to divide the people of this country instead of bringing us together.’ And this is also, this is an issue which she and her union care about and speak about: ‘We care about it because it is about the same fundamental issues – if you care about fighting for justice, if you care about people’s rights, if you care about the right for people in the workplace to be treated with dignity and respect and to be safe, you have to care about how it is that we treat people who are fleeing some of the worst and most terrible situations that you can imagine, looking for refuge, looking for asylum, who arrive in our land and who we then lock up…’

Pamela Curr read a message from Tamil refugees still detained in Indonesia (see media release from the support group RISE) in a centre paid for by Australian taxpayers (this message is posted as MP3 on Melbourne Indymedia), before introducing Malalai Joya – see above – who was followed by Hong Lim, State Labor MP and representative at the rally of the Indo-Chinese community:

Hong Lim speaking

He had come to Australia as a refugee from Cambodia 40 years ago ‘at a time when everybody was so caring and sharing, but 40 years later I must say that some people will try to break that tradition.’ He referred to the post-WWII arrival of more than one million refugees – ‘ask the Jewish community here’ – and the generosity of Austrlians in raising proportionately more than seven times as much in donations to help Cambodian refugees than the British at the time. But now in BRitain there are more than 80,000 asylum seekers and refugees, ‘and here we 4000 and some people jumping up and down complaining’ with talk of an ‘invasion’. He suggested people should look at Springvale, Richmond and Footscray ‘to see what the
Indo-Chinese [refugees] have proven themselves’. They contribute significantly to the economy and are the link to China, Vietnam and so on. We could not allow politicians to poison our minds, our traditions, our customs, our honour any more ‘We must fight them every inch of the way, because they are wrong. They are wrong.’

Brian Walters SC, Greens candidate for the seat of Melbourne, was the last of the speakers before the march:

Brian Walters speaking

He began his address with the words ‘My fellow boat people’ and the opening words of the national
anthem: ‘Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and [pause] free…’ This was one of the values we proclaim, a love for freedom ‘and when people take is at our word, fleeing unimaginable persecution, and come here asking for our help … we lock them up in mental illness factories in remote places behind razor
wire.’ We also value the rule of law, but have decided that it does not apply to whole areas of the country – the excised regions. He was scornful of those who talk about ‘border protection’ – ‘as if people coming wanting the protection of our borders threaten [them].’ ‘When people come across the sea they bring with
them boundless riches that we can share. They enrich our community and what a great day it will be when we end this evil misery of mandatory detention, which is such a stain on our nation [applause]. And then we can really sing that we can “advance Australia fair”‘.

There followed a march down Swanston Street to Federation Square:

Gilios speaking at Federation Square

Gilios, himself a West Papuan refugee, spoke of the work of RISE, an organisation supporting Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees, but first asking for a minute’s silence in memory of a young member of his community who had been killed in a car accident a few days before….

Sister Brigid speaking

Last speaker was Sister Brigid Arthur of the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, who described her visits to young Hazaras in the little-known Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre and families in the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. Her address, which was very compelling, is available as an MP3 on Melbourne Indymedia.

The rally ended with an emphatic statement of the core demand, followed by a lineup of banners:

Lineup on steps at Federation Square

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

Catching up – protests over the last few months

This site continues to attract a surprising amount of traffic, and it seems a pity to disappoint visitors when there is no compelling reason to stop posting. So what follows is a monster posting of events starting where we left off, the Climate Change rally of 13 June, and ending with a protest at the slaughter of seal cubs in Canada, a particularly striking protest organised by Peta on 13 November. (The events are actually posted in reverse order, which is how they would appear if posted as they happened.) All but one of these events was reported on Melbourne Indymedia at the time, and several are accompanied by video on either YouTube or EngageMedia.

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“Canada’s Shame” – Protest at Seal Pup Slaughter – 13 November 2009

Naked protest at seal slaughter

Stop the Bloody Seal Slaughter

If like me you thought that bludgeoning baby seals to death was something that ended years ago, then think again: this year over 60,000 harp seal pups were slaughtered, and the figure would have been five times larger if fear of a European Union ban on seal products had not led many fishermen to stay at home (source: http://www.harpseals.org/)

Local members of PETA (people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – http://www.petaasiapacific.com/) staged an eye-catching protest today outside the Collins Street office of the Consulate of Canada. Quite possibly it went unremarked by the occupants, but it was a different matter with lunchtime passers-by.

If you have a strong stomach and would like to get some idea of why people are protesting, try this short video on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMiUnqaVRtQ

From the group’s media release:

Five People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia members – covered head to toe in red and white paint – will form a giant Canadian flag with their bodies and hold a skimpy banner reading, “Stop the Bloody Seal Slaughter”, at the Consulate of Canada in Melbourne on Friday. The protest is the latest action in PETA’s campaign to focus the world’s attention on Canada’s shame during the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Sealers shoot these animals or bash their heads in, and baby seals are often skinned alive while their wailing mothers helplessly watch. This year, three-fourths of the nearly 300,000 harp seals expected to be killed were spared, in part because the price of seal fur has plummeted as the international outrage against the seal slaughter rises. The European Union and the US have banned seal products, and world leaders – including bear-hunting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – have spoken out against the massacre.
“The universally condemned harp seal slaughter is a bloody stain on Canada’s reputation”, says PETA Australia Director of Campaigns Jason Baker. “As the world turns its attention to Canada’s Games, millions will also focus on Canada’s shame.”

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“Beds are Burning” – Protest against Peter Garrett – 12 November 2009

Bed burning outside meeting venue

How do you sleep - Mr Garrett?

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts was in town to deliver a speech on energy saving, but environmentalists staged a welcome designed to remind him of speeches he delivered before he joined the ALP, in the days when he vigourously and vocally opposed policies he now defends …

It was really not very polite of Mr Garrett to arrive late and scurry out again when nearly everyone had left, because people had gone to a lot of trouble to put on a fitting reception – even to the extent of a genuine burning bed – which the attendant police were not very pleased about – and music that would have brought back memories…

There were brief speeches from Jim Green and Jacob Grech, representing FoE and the peace movement respectively, and one person took advantage of the open mic to put forward the claim that Garrett has all along been playing a double game, infiltrating the ALP purely so as to gather evidence of their dirty tricks, which he would then reveal while at the same time publicly resigning …

The FoE website carries most of the text of a leaflet handed out to passers-by – http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=node/627 – but without the header: “Dear Mr Garrett ..

All we want for Christmas is for you to show some integrity and to put Aboriginal rights, environmental sustainability and peace ahead of your own political ambitions. That’s all.

Thanks! Friends of the Earth”

Video – see http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/garrett-12nov09.mp4/view

More photos:

Burning bed

Just before security brought out the extinguisher ...

Effigy of Peter Garrett

The Garrett Mug

Anti-nuclear waste banner

One of several banners strung up outside

Movement against Uranium Mining banner

Movement against Uranium Mining banner - reminder of past campaigns

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ASU rally – Equal Work, Equal Pay – 10 November 2009

Equal Work, Equal Pay banner

Banner at head of march

This protest was reported on the website of the ASU – http://www.asuvic.asn.au/790048.html (though the estimate of numbers may have been a little generous), with links to both video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcuG0Igtzdo) and photos on flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/asu-national/sets/72157622772970436/).

Here is the callout, followed by a few photos taken by MelbourneProtests:
All ASU members are called to participate in a Day of Action on *November 10*, assembling at Parliament Gardens at 11am, to protest against the complete failure of the Brumby Government to increase our wages and to demand equal pay with Queensland SACS workers and public sector workers doing the SAME work.

To date, the Victorian budget delivered a pathetic 3.14 per cent increase to community sector indexation that is not guaranteed for wage increases for workers. At the same time, the Government is funding pay increases for their own employees, which again INCREASES the pay gap between public and community sector wages. At the same time the Queensland Government moved to fund pay increases of 18 to 36 per cent for QLD SACS workers. Here’s what the Queensland Treasurer had to say:

“We are also providing resources to some of our hardest working, and most important Queenslanders. Community sector workers who care and support some of our most vulnerable Queenslanders, the frail elderly, the disabled and the unwell, have recently had the value of their work recognised by the independent Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. The single biggest allocation of additional resources in this Budget—some $414 million across four years—is provided to support the community sector to continue their essential work.”

At the same time, the Victorian government has done NOTHING to address our demands for equal pay – instead they have sent our pay BACKWARDS!

We have researched, lobbied and written submissions. An independent Commission has agreed with us, Government reports agree with us, our employers agree with us – our work is seriously undervalued! The time for report writing and polite lobbying is over – we demand IMMEDIATE ACTION from the Victorian Government. We demand Equal Pay for our work so our sector is sustainable into the future and our clients and communities receive the support they deserve from a properly funded and resourced community sector.

http://www.asuvic.asn.au/655404.html

Assembling in the gardens

In the Parliament Gardens before the march on Parliament House

At Parliament House

The protest at Parliament House

At the Premier's office

The protest continues at Mr Brumby's office

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Protest at BHP Billiton Melbourne office – 29 October 2009

Toxic Traders banner outside BHP HQ

Picketting BHP Billiton Melbourne HQ

Protesters gathered today at the Melbourne head office of BHP Billiton “in solidarity with communities around the world affected by BHP’s mining activities, and to show dissent to the proposed expansion and proposed open pit at Olympic Dam uranium mine” (FoE Media release).

The rally also marked the release in London of an ‘Alternative Annual Report':

[From FoE media release]
Melbourne-based Friends of the Earth campaigner Mia Pepper, who contributed to the international report, said: “The Alternative Annual Report documents a number of recurring problems with BHP’s operations around the world – human rights and labour abuses, relocation of communities, mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples, destruction of sacred sites, adverse impacts on food and water, climate change, use of paramilitaries, health concerns, and irresponsible tailings disposal. These problems are evident in Australia, West Papua, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Colombia and Chile.”
[…]

Friends of the Earth’s national nuclear campaigner Dr Jim Green said: “For all of BHP Billiton’s hollow rhetoric about corporate social responsibility, the company operates the Olympic Dam mine in SA under an outdated Indenture Act which exempts the mine from key environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws.

“BHP Billiton has provided over $2 million to Reconciliation Australia. Yet the company will not relinquish its exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. The company’s attitude appears to be ‘do as I say not as I do’. It’s time for this hypocrisy to end.”

…..

Speakers at the rally were Dave Sweeney, Nuclear Free Campainer with the Australian Conservation Foundation, and Duban Velez, a union delegate for workers at the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia, who spoke in Spanish with an interpreter. (More information: .)

The rally was rounded off by activist rappers Kasey and Izzy.

Video – http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/bhp-29oct09.mp4/view

The ‘Alternative Annual Report’ can be found at http://tinyurl.com/yjjluqg

See also http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear and http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=node/618

The original posting on Melbourne Indymedia also includes MP3s of the speeches – http://indymedia.org.au/2009/10/29/protest-at-bhp-billiton-melbourne-office-to-mark-agm-09-in-london-29-october

Dave Sweeney speaking

Dave Sweeney speaking

BHP - water guzzler

BHP - Water Guzzler

More banners

The international dimension

Kasey and Izzy

Rappers Kasey and Izzy

Kasey

Kasey

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Friends of the Earth Anti-Nuclear Community BBQ at Batman Park – 24 October 2009

Ziggy the anti-nuclear white elephant

Nuclear energy is a white elephant

Alongside the 350.org actions yesterday, FoE’s Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy (ACE) campaign held a
community bbq in Batman Park, in the centre of the electorate of pro-nuclear and pro-coal Federal Energy Minister Martin “He might be from Batman, but he ain’t no superhero!” Ferguson …

Billed as an opportunity for informal discussion, info exchange, with face painting, music, food and games, it was a relaxed and enjoyable occasion, with music from Madeline and Kasey via a solar-powered sound system courtesy of Izzy, lots of food, an appearance by Ziggy the nuclear white elephant, and much more. Jim Green, FoE spokesperson on nuclear matters, gave a brief run-down on how matters stand and Alex Bhathal, who is contesting the seat of Batman at the next Federal election, explained the importance of blocking the Labor Government’s CPRS bill – even suggesting people should try sending the Coalition “negative energy” over the next few weeks to prevent a Labor/Coalition deal.

(See also http://www.theage.com.au/national/changes-lock-in-polluter-paradise-2009….)

The accompanying video on EngageMedia (http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/ace-24oct09.avi/view) includes part of what Jim had to say about, amongst other things, the expected imminent decision on a nuclear waste-dump in the Northern Territory, and there is a rough and ready mp3 attached to the versin of this post on Melbourne Indymedia: http://indymedia.org.au/2009/10/25/friends-of-the-earth-anti-nuclear-community-bbq-at-batman-park-24-october.

Because it came up in conversation on the day, here is what Brewer has to say on the subject of “white elephants”:

“A white elephant. Some possession the expense or responsibility of which is not worth while; a burdensome possession. The allusion is to the story of a king of Siam who used to make a present of a white elephant to courtiers he wished to ruin.”

As the photo above shows, Ziggy had some difficulty getting off the ground…

For more on the campaign against a nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land in the NT see http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/nontdump and accompanying links.

The ACE website is at http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear

Poster announcing the event

Batman Community BBQ

Jim Green of FoE

Jim Green addressing the gathering

Message for Martin Ferguson

Message for Martin

Another message for Martin Ferguson

Pirates with a message

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No to brown coal exports – Environmental groups protest at Parliament House – 22 October 2009

Protesters on steps at Parliament House

Protesters on steps at Parliament House

Environmental groups staged a snap protest at Parliament House today, Thursday October 22, in response to moves by Energy Minister Peter Batchelor to compound the disastrous impact of Victoria’s brown coal industry by exporting millions of tonnes of the stuff to India and other developing nations …

An opinion piece in the Age by Mark Wakeham,campaigns director with Environment Victoria, gives the backgound:

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/exporting-brown-coal-puts-doll…

In spite of the awkward time and short notice around 200 people of all ages joined the protest. Taegen Edwards of Yarra Climate Action Now was MC, introducing speakers including Mark Wakeham of Environment Victoria, Barrie Pittock, who led the Climate Impact Group in CSIRO until his retirement in 1999, Lou Morris, coal campaigner at Friends of the Earth – and Greg, who explained how he took the initiative of placing Victoria’s brown coal reserves, all 13 billion tonnes of it, on ebay …

Video extracts from the protest on EngageMedia – http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/220ct09-brown-coal.mp4/view

Another view of protest

Protesters on steps at Parliament House - 2

Placard in crowd

Suggestion re Peter Batchelor

Greens with placard

Message for Brumby from the Greens

Barrie Pittock speaking

Barrie Pittock

Taegen Edwards and Mark Wakeham

MC Taegen with Mark Wakeham of Enviroment Victoria

Greg explains his post on eBay

Greg explains his post on eBay

Lou Morris speaking

Lou Morris of Friends of the Earth


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This Saturday, 24 October, there will be events across Victoria as part of the 350.org International Day of Climate Action – see notice on this site http://indymedia.org.au/2009/10/18/350org-international-day-of-action
and the website http://www.350.org/ – Melbourne events are listed here: http://www.350.org/action-list?country=au&city=Melbourne

Friends of the Earth will be holding a community bbq on the same day, at Batman Park – details http://indymedia.org.au/community-bbq-in-batman – as part of its anti-nuclear and clean energy campaign (Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, a determined advocate for the coal and nuclear lobbies, is member for the electorate of Batman).

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US out of Latin America – Protest at US Consulate, Melbourne, 11 September 2009

Outside the US Consulate

US Out of Latin America!

While the US flag flew at half-mast in memory of the victims of 11 September 2001, representatives and supporters of the Latin-American communities in Melbourne held a small rally to remember the victims of the US-inspired coup in Chile on the same day in 1973, and to demand an end to US interference in the affairs of Latin America.

The numbers were small, possibly reflecting the fact that someone had apparently seen fit to spread disinformation to the effect that anyone attending the rally would be arrested, but as Lucho from LASNET, the organisers of the rally, put it, the important thing was to show that the past had not been forgotten, even here on the other side of the world, and that protests would continue regardless.

There was no formal agenda, but a succession of speakers recalled the history of US interventions in their southern neighbours, a region which one said the US regarded as its backyard, which it felt entitled to control. This was accompanied by a forecast that the current withdrawal from Iraq and eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave the military complex looking for ‘somewhere to go’, hence the push for bases in Colombia, one of the main themes of the rally. There was a reminder of the part played by Australia in the Chile coup, through the communications facility at Pine Gap used by US forces at the time of the Pinochet coup, and commentary on the situation in Honduras. Much of the proceedings was in Spanish, as was only right, though doubtful how much would have penetrated to those inside.

There was a minute’s silence for victims, in Chile and elsewhere, and proceedings were punctuated by chants of “Out, out, US out!”, “Gringos go home!” …

When protesters arrived they found four AFP cars lined up waiting. Perhaps they also had been fed some mis-information?

A film and discussion night originally scheduled for the evening at Trades Hall has been postponed to Thursday, 24 September, at 6:30 for 7:00pm.

From the LASNET media release:
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We call to denounce the systematically violation of people’s and indigenous rights in Colombia from the Uribista government and the capitalist partners that accompanies it…

We call to intensify our solidarity and support to the political-social movements and indigenous organisations that fights for their rights… We ask ourselves, who are the real terrorist?

No to the militarisation in Latin America!
United States out of Colombia and Latin America!
No to Micheletti’s dictatorship in Honduras!

For our memory…our tribute to all those that fought against the Pinochet’s dictatorship imposed on September 11 in 1973 with U.S. backup and support, country that not stop its violence against our people.
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See further:

http://www.latinamericansoldaritynetwork.org/

http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news

Delivering the message - 1

Delivering the message -1

Delivering the message - 2

Delivering the message - 2

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Unionists rally for Safe Sites and Pay Equity – 1 September 2009

Placard - Not Good Enough

Placard summarises message

Two campaigns coincided in the rally held on Tuesday in Lygon Street outside Trades Hall – opposition to legislative changes threatening to water down work safety laws in Victoria, and demands for pay equity for women. As VTHC President Kevin Bracken put it at the start of proceedings, “Today is Equal Pay Day, and the reason it’s being held today is because on average women have to work 62 days more than men, so 62 days from the start of the financial year is the first of September, that’s today, and the women have had a breakfast [here at Trades Hall] and they’re wearing red, and they’re going to be leading this march, so everyone’s got to keep behind them.” (Loud cheers)

Speakers at the initial rally included Brian Boyd, VTHC Secretary, who later was part of a delegation that delivered a a protest letter to the Premier’s representative at Parliament House; Marg Pekin, AEU health and safety officer, who stressed the importance of the role of OHS reps especially in supporting younger workers in the education field, and above all those on contracts. (There is a report including part of her speech on the AEU website – http://www.aeuvic.asn.au/news/1251784116_11751.html) Bronwen Halfpenny, Campaign Officer at Trades Hall, gave a brief reminder of the 17% pay gap between men and women and repeated the call for women to move to the head of the march, which then made its way through the CBD to chants of “What do we want – Safe Sites”, “Health and Safety Laws – Not Good Enough” and more.

At Parliament House the rally was addressed by ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence, Martin Kingham of the CFMEU, Ingrid Stitt, Affirmative Action Vice-President at VTHC, and Maitea Medina, widow of Tony Medina, who died last year of mesothelioma at the age of 42. To reinforce the sombre message, rows of shoes were placed on the steps of Parliament House to represent workers killed on the job, and a minute’s silence was observed.

Finally, as already mentioned, a delegation delivered a letter of protest to the Sergeant at Arms, representing the Premier.

The accompanying photos roughly follow the timeline of the rally and march, and hopefully the captions are self-explanatory. One that might not be clear, however – as the march set off down Russell Street a school party visiting the old Melbourne Gaol lined up across the street and cheered.

There are some audio clips with the posting on Melbourne Indymedia: http://indymedia.org.au/2009/09/04/unionists-rally-for-safe-sites-and-pay-equity-1-september-09

More links:

Huge Melbourne Union Rally Demands “Best Practice” National OHS Laws – http://www.vthc.org.au/resources/cover-story-archives/huge-melbourne-union-rally-demands-best-practice-national-ohs-laws-1st-september-2009/index.cfm

Unions rally to protect workplace safety laws – http://www.aeuvic.asn.au/news/1251784116_11751.html

http://www.asuvic.asn.au/164.html

Weaker OHS laws – Victoria says NO! – http://www.cfmeuvic.com.au/index.cfm?section=46&Category=64&viewmode=content&ContentID=198

“Wear red” and “OHS National Model Laws – Not Good Enough!” – background to the equal pay and work safety issues on http://www.iww.org.au/node/1058

Equal Pay Day 2009 – http://www.equalpayday.com.au/

Before the march, at Trades Hall

Women at the front

Before the march, at Trades HAll

Brian Boyd speaking

Brian Boyd speaking

Martin Kingham

Martin Kingham, Bill Oliver and others

Setting off

Setting off

School party cheering

School party cheering outside old Melbourne Gaol

TCFUA on the march

TCFUA on the march

Another shot of head of march

Head of march

In Swanston Street

In Swanston Street

Also in Swanston Street

Also in Swanston Street

Head of march in Bourke Street

Head of march in Bourke Street

Head of march at top of Bourke Street

Head of march at top of Bourke Street

Jeff Lawrence speaking at Parliament House

Jeff Lawrence speaking at Parliament House

Ingrid Stitt speaking at Parliament House

Ingrid Stitt speaking at Parliament House

Maitea Medina speaking at Parliament House

Maitea Medina speaking at Parliament House

Shoes on steps at Parliament House

Shoes on steps at Parliament House

TCFUA at Parliament House

TCFUA at Parliament House

International solidarity

International solidarity

Delivering the letter

Delivering the letter

Part of the crowd at Parliament House

Part of the crowd at Parliament House

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Rally at Fertility Control Clinic, East Melbourne, 22 August 2009

Ouside the clinic - protest banner

Outside the clinic

The monthly “Clinic defence” by pro-choice activists at the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic in Wellington Parade has taken on a new urgency following recent events in Queensland and the threat of challenges from the Catholic Church to the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria. The Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights, which has co-ordinated the monthly actions, called for a rally at the clinic on Saturday 22 August to show solidarity with campaigners in Queensland and especially the young couple facing lengthy imprisonment for the “illegal” use of RU486 – their committal hearing is due to start on 3 September and will be marked by ongoing protests there, led by the Pro-Choice Action Collective (Queensland) – http://www.prochoiceactionqld.org/

Extracts from speeches at the rally have been posted on EngageMedia – http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/clinic-22aug09_transcoded.m…. A confrontation at the clinic on 26 April 2008 was reported at the time on Sydney Indymedia – http://sydney.indymedia.org.au/video/confrontation-east-melbourne-fertility-clinic-26-april – including video footage. Since this footage is no longer accessible on that site it has been reposted on Melbourne Indymedia, along with a fact sheet issued by CWRR: http://indymedia.org.au/2009/08/24/rally-at-fertility-control-clinic-east-melbourne-22-august-2009

Helpers of God's Infants

The other side of the street ...

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Support for people of Honduras – 15 August 2009

Flags and banners of support

At Federation Square

While the repression following the coup d’etat continues in Honduras so too do the protests, both there and around the world: last Tuesday was a global day of action called by Via Campesina Honduras (http://www.viacampesina.org), and in Melbourne LASNET held a meeting that evening at Friends of the Earth in Collingwood, followed by a rally at Federation Square on Saturday August 15. Here leaflets were distributed with details of an overnight attack on the offices of Via Campesina (http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=vi…) and there was footage on dvd showing the military attacking people in the streets, threatening reporters, and much more – the footage was taken from TelesurTV, which has a section devoted to coverage of the coup: http://www.telesurtv.net/noticias/afondo/especiales/Golpe_de_estado_hond… People were urged to spread the word of what is happening in Honduras, and also to call on the Australian government to take a stand. Friends of the Earth in Honduras is reported to have been targeted for allegedly spreading misinformation, ie the truth about the repression, and FoE Australia has issued a statement condemning the coup: http://www.foe.org.au/news/2009/foe-statement-on-honduras (see also http://www.movimientomadretierra.org/).

More rallies will be held and hopefully the numbers will grow; there are also plans for a protest at the US Consulate on 11 Sept, basically on the theme “US out of Latin America”, with the focus originally on Colombia but now extended to Honduras and beyond (September 11 is of course the anniversary of the 1973 US-backed military coup in Chile …)

See http://www.latinlasnet.org/node/298 for more on this event, and the original post on Melbourne Indymedia: http://indymedia.org.au/2009/08/16/support-for-people-of-honduras-15-august

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Hiroshima Day Rally and March – 8 August 2009

Banner at head of march

The head of the march

Attendance at the rally was small, which was a pity not only because for once the weather was perfect but also because the speakers were exceptional: MC was Jacob Grech (http://www.ozpeace.net/)
introducing Felicity Hill of WILPF (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – http://www.wilpf.org.au/), Dave Sweeney (Australian Conservation Foundation – http://www.acfonline.org.au/default.asp), and visiting US scientist Steven Starr (http://www.nucleardarkness.org/ – see also Physicians for Social Responsibility – http://www.psr.org/) who described the catastrophic global climatic implications of a nuclear war, even on a relatively “small” scale as for example between India and Pakistan. Japanese for Peace were represented at the rally and also organised the concert which followed – http://www.jfp.org.au/index_eng.html.

After the speeches there was a short march, down to the Bourke Street Mall, where a large red cross was placed across the tram tracks to mark a symbolic target, and there was a silence to remember the victims.

Last Thursday, the 6th of August, there was a candlelight vigil on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the actual anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Peter Garrett, Federal Environment Minister, recently announced a new uranium mine in South Australia to be operated by Heathgate Resources, a subsidiary of General Atomics, a major US arms company …
And throughout the rally the logo of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP, loomed in the sky in the background:

BHP logo in background to rally

The BHP logo, marked with red arrow

More links:

http://www.mapw.org.au/

http://www.icanw.org/
http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=88015054842

Some photos from the rally and march, pretty much self-explanatory:

"Nuclear umbrella" at State Library

Nuclear umbrella at State Library

Felicity Hill speaking at State Library

Felicity Hill speaking at State Library

Dave Sweeney speaking a State Library

Dave Sweeney speaking a State Library

Steven Starr speaking at State Library

Steven Starr speaking at State Library

MAPW banner

Medical Association for Prevention of War

Colombia Solidarity banner

Colombia Solidarity banner

More flags

More flags on the march

ICANW banner

ICANW

Banner of Japanese for Peace

Banner of Japanese for Peace

Banner - Lest we Forget

Anti-nuclear activists

Red cross on tram tracks

During the minute's silence

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Support for People of Honduras – 1 August 2009

The protest at Federation Square - Carmen Rosa speaking

The protest at Federation Square - Carmen Rosa speaking

Following the recent ousting of the democratically elected president and the subsequent repression of dissent, Indigenous and grassroots organisations in Honduras have appealed for international solidarity – see Honduras Resiste http://hondurasresists.blogspot.com/2009/07/report-of-repression-in-tegucigalpa.html. In answer to this call, LASNET – the Latin America Solidarity Network http://www.latinlasnet.org – held a rally at Federation Square in Melbourne on Saturday 1 August. It was small, but was attended by representatives of several Latin American countries, and speakers also included Robbie Thorpe, expressing the support of Indigenous Australians, and Waratah Rose Gillespie, human rights lawyer and “human shield” in Iraq. There is video footage of the rally on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFUu87RrL5Y

See also: http://www.viacampesina.org

Robbie Thorpe speaking

Robbie Thorpe

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PETA protests at whipping of horses – 1 August 2009

Women with whips and placards

Outside the racing museum ...

Coming out of ACMI at Federation Square on my way to a rally in support of the people of Honduras – report coming soon – my eye was caught by an unexpected sight across the way in front of the Australian Racing Museum – which was otherwise advertising the celebration on Sunday 2 August of the traditional “horses’ birthday”:

There is a short video of the protest on EngageMedia – http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/peta-1aug09.mpg/view – also available on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvZPOxk9Klw

Vinyl-clad “dominatrices” with whips and signs reading “Some People like Whips, Horses Don’t” picketed the Australian Racing Museum at Federation Square this morning in a protest timed to coincide with the introduction of new horse-whipping rules on 1 August. These rules will ‘allow the use of “padded” whips and permit jockeys to whip horses five times before the final stretch, after which horses can be whipped an additional three times…’ – From a PETA news release.

‘Why does horseracing have PETA’s lovely dominatraces whipped into a frenzy? During races, horses are painfully whipped as they run frantically in front of hundred of screaming “punters”. Because horses begin training and racing when their skeletal systems are still developing, many sustain serious muscle and joint injuries, fractures, internal bleeding, musculoskeletal trauma and ruptured ligaments. Whipping horses can force them to run faster and exacerbate existing injuries, leading to catastrophic breakdowns.

‘By age three – when they are still physically immature – most horses have seen their last race. When horses become injured or suffer from chronic diseases, many are sent to slaughter. An undercover investigation at a slaughterhouse in Melbourne revealed that weak, emaciated horses were shot in the head with a rifle – often in full view of other horses.

‘”It’s one thing for consenting adults to use whips in the privacy of their own homes”, says “dominatrix” Anita Frank. “But beating horses into running faster is nothing short of animal abuse.”‘

For details of the new rules see:

http://www.australianracingboard.com.au/press/whiprules.pdf

‘From the 1st August 2009 only padded whips are to be used in races and
official trials.’

‘The best scientific advice available to us says that padded whips do not inflict pain or
injury, and that is the outcome we want.’

Also visit: http://www.petaasiapacific.com

The museum is advertsing the horses' birthday party '09

Another view

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Another G20 Trial – Sydney Activists face County Court in Melbourne – 13 July 2009

Banner outside court

Outside the County Court

The trial of two Sydney activists began in the Melbourne County Court today. Tim and Sunil are facing two counts each of aggravated burglary, which can carry a 25-year jail term, for allegedly walking into offices on ‘Corporate Engagement Day’ two and a half years ago with nothing more than glitter and water pistols. They each also face two counts of criminal damage and and unlawful assembly for the same incidents, which were part of protests against the G20 meeting in Melbourne in November 2006. They are fighting extremely serious charges for what was a benign and fairly standard action.

[Updates on the course of the trial were posted day by day as comments on Melbourne Indymedia:http://indymedia.org.au/2009/07/13/another-g20-trial-sydney-activists-face-county-court-in-melbourne%5D
See also: http://www.afterg20.org/

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G20 trial begins – solidarity at the County Court, Melbourne – 30 June 2009

Banners outside the court

Outside the County Court

The trial was due to begin in Melbourne today of one of the activists arrested after the G20 protests in November 2006. Sina Brown-Davis is charged with riot, affray and criminal damage. Sina is currently working to galvanise opposition to PACER, the extension of the Australia/NZ ‘Closer Economic Relationship” to include the Pacific Islands, and some of those taking part in a show of solidarity outside the County Court this morning held placards reflecting this campaign.

[Reports of proceedings day by day were posted to Melbourne Indymedia:http://indymedia.org.au/2009/06/30/g20-trial-begins-solidarity-at-the-county-court-melbourne%5D

See also:

http://indymedia.org.nz/event/77327/solidarity-g20-arrestees-stop-neo-libera

http://abcwellington.org.nz/mambo/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=46&Itemid=39

http://www.3news.co.nz/News/NZer-on-trial-in-Australia-over-G-20-protest/tabid/417/articleID/110518/cat/61/Default.aspx

http://uriohau.blogspot.com/

http://www.afterg20.org/

Sina and supporter with anti-colonial banner

Sina outside the court

Supporters with anti-PACER placards

More supporters

Police presence

Police presence

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Rally on second anniversary of Northern Territory intervention – Melbourne 20 June 2009

Valerie Martin speaking at State Library

Valerie Martin speaking at State Library

Rallies were held across Australia on Saturday 20 June to mark the 2nd anniversary of the NT Intervention. Around 200 attended a rally at the State Library in Melbourne, and a large proportion then marched or otherwise made their way to Trades Hall for further discussions and planning. Music played a big part in the rally, with contributions from Indigenous hip hop artists including Tjimba and Little G., as well as Jake Hapeta, who was joined by MC Stan Dryden, Shiralee Hood, and Tjimba in a rendering of ‘Australia’s new national anthem’, and Ezekiel Ox, representing Musicians against Police Violence. Speakers included Robbie Thorpe, Sina Brown-Davis (one of the G20 arrestees due to face trial next week), Frederick (a West Papuan refugee), Gary Murray, Aletha Penrith from Redfern, David Thomason-Koolmatrie and Lisa Koolmatrie (relatives of Mr Ward, who died, as is well-known, in custody in WA), veteran Indigenous activist Gary Foley, and Valerie Martin from Yuendumu NT.

[Footage from the rally has been posted on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-wK_kpDqEI, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zbXv2vfaAk, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aSEA-taJZc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA7w8MSQyCc. Gary Foley’s speech was also posted, but subsequently withdrawn at his request.]

Attached are a few photos from the rally, and one of the march. (Because of the way State Library grounds are laid out, speakers found themselves beside the statue honouring the memory of Redmond Barry, the judge who hanged Ned Kelly and presided over the trials of many of the Eureka rebels. Another nice touch was that the march naturally led past the Old Melbourne Gaol …)
See also:

http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/

http://stoptheintervention.org/

http://www.paybackrecords.com.au/

Stan Dryden

MC Stan Dryden

Singing the new anthem

Singing the new anthem

Banner - Free Lex Wotton

Sina speaking

Lisa and David - relatives of Mr Ward

Lisa and David - relatives of Mr Ward

March up Russell Street

Marching past the old Melbourne Gaol

Ezekiel Ox - Musicians against Police Violence

Ezekiel Ox - Musicians against Police Violence

Aletha Penrith

Aletha Penrith

Shiralee Hood

Shiralee Hood

Jake Hapeta

Jake Hapeta

Little G.

Little G.

Aboriginal Flag on steps of Parliament House

Aboriginal Flag on steps of Parliament House

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International Women’s Day in Melbourne – 6 March

One of the banners on the platform

One of the banners on the platform

The Victorian Trades Hall Council organised a rally on Friday 6 March to mark the 98th International Women’s Day. The rally came a day after unionists and sacked Pacific Brands workers held a protest in Melbourne organised by the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, and a TCFUA banner was prominent on the steps of the State Library.

On the steps of the State Library

On the steps of the State Library

One of the speakers was TCFUA Assistant Secretary Jenny Kruschel:

TCFUA Assistant Secretary Jenny Kruschel

TCFUA Assistant Secretary Jenny Kruschel

Other speakers were Ann Taylor, Deputy Branch President of AEU and President of VTHC:

Ann Taylor, alongside the other main banner on the platform

Ann Taylor, alongside the other main banner on the platform

and Angelina Ladera, from the National Executive of Kilusang Mayo Uno [KMU] Labour Centre in the Philippines:

Angelina Ladera

Angelina Ladera

MC was Josie Parrelli:

Josie Parrelli

Josie Parrelli

and the rally was organised by VTHC Women’s Officer Jennifer O’Donnell-Pirisi, seen here leading the cheering at the end, along with Josie Parrelli:

Jennifer and Josie lead the cheering

Jennifer and Josie lead the cheering

The Young Unionists’ Network was represented, along with several other unions – the ASU, and the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance can be seen here:

Young Unionists' Network, ASU, MEAA

Young Unionists' Network, ASU, MEAA

Some placards in the crowd:

Placards in the crowd

Placards in the crowd

There is a report of the rally, with photos, on the
VTHC website:

Protest at Pacific Brands sackings – 5 March

Firefighters strip in protest

Firefighters strip in protest

Firefighters stripped to their Bonds underwear outside the Myer store in the Bourke Street Mall on Thursday as part of a protest rally against the decision of Pacific Brands to sack 1850 workers while moving production overseas. This was the first of a series of rallies organised by the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union to demand a reversal of the company’s decision. In spite of repeated heavy showers some hundreds of workers from Pacific Brands factories along with members of other unions and supporters from the public heard a succession of speakers, including two of the sacked workers as well as Michele O’Neil, National Secretary of the TCFUA and Jeff Lawrence, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Michele O’Neil read out letters from the union to notable Australians Pat Rafter, Sarah Murdoch and Michael Clarke, all three ‘Bonds ambassadors’, calling on them to dissociate themselves from the company which they have helped to promote, and also a letter to the company from a shareholder outraged at what she saw as a betrayal.
There is video footage of the rally on YouTube:

and

For more on the campaign and issues, see:
http://www.MakeitHere.com.au

and:

http://www.tcfua.org.au/

Other reports:

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0903/S00066.htm

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/actu-launches-action-to-save-jobs-20090303-8n69.html

http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,25141687-5006301,00.html

http://www.theage.com.au/national/hundreds-rally-over-pacific-brands-job-cuts-20090305-8p05.html?page=-1

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25141687-661,00.html

Some of the sacked workers

Some of the sacked workers

Michele O'Neil addressing the rally

Michele O'Neil addressing the rally

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence

ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence

Bill Noonan, VIC/TAS Branch Secretary of Transport Workers Union

Bill Noonan, VIC/TAS Branch Secretary of Transport Workers Union

ETU members were among a range of unions represented

ETU members were among a range of unions represented