Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Rail better than a tolled tunnel

A rail line from inner Melbourne to Doncaster in the city’s east could be built for a mere $840 million a new report has found. The report stated the railway line could transport around 100,000 people a day.

This is the same number of vehicles projected to use the proposed east-west road tunnel. In contrast the tunnel, which would be tolled, is estimated to cost anywhere between $5 billion and $10 billion.

Inner Melbourne residents are opposed to the tunnel as it will result in increased traffic and pollution. Local parkland will also be compromised.

It is clear that the multibillion-dollar tunnel is only being proposed to appease the road lobby. It will not solve any of Melbourne’s traffic problems as most cars travel into the CBD as opposed to east-west across the city.

Despite these facts the right-wing Australian Workers Union (AWU) has backed the unpopular tunnel. They fail to understand that public transport infrastructure creates more jobs in the long run and is far better for the environment.

Victorian teachers set to strike again

In September a second 24-hour strike will be waged by Victorian teachers. This strike is expected to be the biggest teachers strike in the state’s history. This time administration staff, teacher’s aides and librarians will join teachers in the day of action.

The first strike day on June 7 saw more than 25,000 teachers stop work and more than 200 schools close. Teachers are demanding a 30% pay rise over three years, maximum class sizes of 20 students and a reduction in the number of short-term contracts. So far the government is refusing to concede to these demands which would dramatically improve public education.

Disappointingly the Australian Education Union (AEU), who is representing teachers in the negotiations, seems to be trying to funnel teachers anger into a campaign aimed at getting the ALP re-elected in 2014.

Waiting for a Labor government will not guarantee any fundamental changes as they have previously undermined public education and attempted to hold down teacher’s wages. Teachers and support staff need to have faith in their own power and intensify the industrial campaign.

Construction workers mass rally

On July 4, thousands of construction workers stopped work and took to the streets of Melbourne as part of a state wide stoppage. The protest was organised in opposition to the State Government’s plans to introduce a Code of practice for the building and construction industry.

In essence the Code will be used to increase employers’ power over their workforce. For example it will outlaw the hiring of employees nominated by unions, bosses not unions will run site inductions and no information will be given to the unions about new staff or contractors.

The July 4 rally was a good start to the campaign but it will need to continue on the jobs. Mass non co-operation now needs to be organised. For example jobs should be shut if inspectors come on site. Another rally should be organised if anyone is targeted by government authorities and plans should be made to organise another strike if any union member is charged.

The challenge ahead for construction workers will be to use industrial pressure to make the Code unworkable.