November fast news
More than 300 people protested outside the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley on October 10. The demonstration was part of an international day of action to highlight the need to act on climate change.
Hazelwood is one of the most polluting power stations in the industrialised world. It is the most greenhouse intensive power station in Australia, pumping out an average of 17 million tons of greenhouse gases every year. The plant, which was due to be decommissioned in 2005, was instead sold off to International Power to continue polluting for another 25 years.
The demonstration was calling for the urgent closure of the plant and for a transition to renewable energy jobs in the Valley. The security response to the peaceful demonstration on the day was excessive, with an estimated 300 police present and many more private security guards. A temporary barbed wire fence was also erected around the site.
Protesters created a mock solar power plant to highlight the urgent need to move towards renewables. The day also involved music, comedy, food and speeches. Socialist Party members from Melbourne attended the protest and marched with a banner that read ‘People and planet before profit!’
WA: Health workers strike for better pay
On October 12 over 500 people marched to the Parliament of Western Australia to protest the attempted privatisation of healthcare. The protest coincided with a strike of 5000 healthcare workers who had stopped work demanding better wages and conditions.
Under the plans proposed by Liberal Premier Colin Barnett every government hospital is threatened with privatisation. At the same time workers need at least a $50 per week increase in order to cover the basic costs of living.
The composition of the strike was varied including cleaners, orderlies, patient care assistants, technicians and store workers. The issues of workers rights and privatisation are closely linked. As we have seen with other services, privatisation only means less jobs, less service and increased costs for the consumer.
SA: Rann attacks public sector workers
South Australian Labor Premier Mike Rann is attempting to slash jobs and cut the conditions of public sector workers. The state government is proposing to amend the Award under Gillard’s Fair Work Act to replace the 17.5% holiday leave loading with two days of annual leave.
This cut was announced along with the controversial budget which includes more than 3700 government job cuts. The Public Services Association has said that they will organise protests against the cuts but what is really required is a campaign of industrial action.
The state government is already losing support with the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union warning that they will withdraw support from Labor’s election campaign in 2014 if the Premier and Treasurer are not replaced.