Issue Number 28

November-December 2010

  • Fight racism - free the refugees
  • Boycott apartheid Israel: national campaign launched

International News & Analysis

By Reinaldo Garcia Perera

[This is the text of a speech given by Reinaldo Garcia Perera, consul-general to Australia for the Republic of Cuba, to a meeting in Sydney on October 10 protesting against the US blockade of Cuba.]

Dear friends: Thank you all for being here today. Your presence confirms the power of mobilisation of the Cuban Revolution and your lasting and strong support for it.

By John Percy

Agent Orange is the code name of the dioxin-laced chemical used by the United States to defoliate huge areas of Vietnam and destroy food crops during its devastating war against the people of Vietnam. Between 1962 and 1971, the US military machine sprayed 80 million litres of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

By Marce Cameron

Cuba’s trade union confederation announced in September that half a million state-employed workers are to be laid off by May 1. Over the next five years, Cuba’s socialist government plans to shift a further half million workers from the state-owned economy to the self-employed, small business and cooperative sectors.

By Win Padauk Wah Han

The Burmese military regime, officially called the State Peace and Development Council, organised a general election on November 7 – the first in two decades. The SPDC’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed a landslide victory, declaring that it had won 86% of seats in the lower house of parliament and 88% in the upper house.

The Conference on Diego Garcia & Chagos held at Grande Riviere, Port Louis, Mauritius, bringing together 150 participants from 30 October to 2 November 2010, reached consensus that we will keep the following struggles firmly bound together, never bartering one against the other:

By Sam King

John Cleary was an active member of the Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s before becoming an electrician, delegate and member of the Electrical Trades Union. He was an ETU organiser for 12 years until 2001. Since then he has been active in solidarity with Venezuela and Colombia, including organising and participating in seven solidarity brigades to Venezuela.

By Barry Sheppard

San Francisco – The US government has announced that the Great Recession ended in the northern summer of 2009. What it means is that the contraction of gross domestic product that began in late 2007 stopped, and GDP began to increase slowly.

By Zoe Kenny

Yogyakarta – Thousands of mainly student protesters took to the streets in cities across Indonesia – including Jakarta, Palu, Makassar, Medan, Ternate, Samarinda, Bandung, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Madura – on October 20 to protest the first year of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s second term as president.

By Zoe Kenny

Yogyakarta – A labour dispute is unfolding in this Central Java city that highlights many of the intransigent problems Indonesian workers face under the neoliberal government of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

By Ram Seegobin

Mauritius – An International Conference on Diego Garcia and Chagos, organised by the socialist group Lalit, was held here October 30-November 2.

By James Crafti

Israeli lawmakers are seeking to further extend state apartheid during the 2010-11 winter session of the Knesset (parliament). Key in the new legislation is a series of laws on a loyalty pledge that includes acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state.

Alliance of Peoples Struggle

The Alliance of People’s Struggle (ARM), a coalition of women’s, students, labour and peasant organisations, based in Yogyakarta, is appealing for emergency aid to help people affected by the Mount Merapi volcano, which is having its most violent eruptions in more than a century.

By Ben Reid

In an unprecedented display of unity, 16 of the main trade union organisations in the Philippines met on November 8 to oppose the impending lay-off of almost 3000 workers by Philippine Airlines (PAL), the nation’s main airline.

By Nick Everett

On November 10, French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed into law his conservative government’s pension reform plan, under which the minimum age of retirement will be increased from 60 to 62 years, but those retired workers who wish to claim full pension benefits will be forced to wait until they reach the age of 67 instead of the present age of 65.

By John Pilger

The lesson of the French anti-government protests is that “normal” politics exists only to promote corporate interests. Britain must prepare for a rebirth of the only thing that works – direct action.

Telecom unions under attack in Pakistan

Following a strike at Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCL) that was brutally suppressed by the government, a wholesale witch-hunt of union activists is taking place. More than 250 workers have been suspended from their jobs and another 280 terminated.

Australian News & Analysis

By Kathy Newnam

On October 20, Gurindji workers in the remote Aboriginal communities of Kalkaringi and Dagaragu stopped work in protest against the NT intervention. This protest revives the memory of the Gurindji walk-off in 1966, which was central in sparking a wave of protest and solidarity that led to the land rights victories of the 1980s.

By Kim Bullimore and Sahal Al-Ruwaili

More than 150 Palestine solidarity activists and supporters of human rights from around Australia gathered in Melbourne October 29-31 for Australia’s first national boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) conference in support of Palestine.

By Jon Lamb

When President Obama dumped his emissions trading policy after the trouncing of the Democrats in the recent US mid-term elections, he received cheers from his carbon-rich polluting allies here in Australia. The Julia Gillard Labor government, not to be outdone by Tony Abbot’s “direct action” nonsense, has promised much and delivered nothing.

By Tim Stewart

Peter Garrett, the 1980s rock star in a band noted for its anti-nuclear, anti-mining, anti-military stance, is living proof that parliamentarism will never serve the campaigns for social, environmental and economic justice.

By Ambrose Andrews

Three years after the federal government first announced a proposed internet filter, the twists and turns of the various versions of the policy and conflicting statements about it have been challenging to keep track of. One certainty is that the proposal as it stands after the 2010 election has almost nothing in common with the original.

By Win Padauk Wah Han

Write of life / the pious said
forget the past / the past is dead.
But all I see / in front of me
is a concrete floor / a cell door / and John Pat.

– by Jack Davis

By Kerry Vernon

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s government plans to establish a regional processing centre to stem the very small numbers of asylum seekers and refugees who attempt to arrive unauthorised by boat to Australia. With a nod to the Coalition’s racist “turn back the boats” policy, Labor plans to shift its current offshore processing of asylum seekers to a poorer regional country.

By Hamish Chitts

The federal Labor Party government formally agreed in early November to create an even tighter linking of Australian foreign policy and military forces with the policy and forces of the US government.

By Andrew Martin

More than 50 Perth train drivers took unprotected industrial action on September 24, taking leave or phoning in sick in the morning. More reported sick in the afternoon. It was the second time in a month that the train drivers initiated a “blue flu”.

By James Crafti

The sinking of RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912 was one of the worst maritime disasters of all time. 1517 people died. Those killed were disproportionately poorer working class passengers and crew. While more than 60% of first class passengers survived, fewer than 25% of third class passengers did, and fewer than 24% of the crew.

By Kathy Newnam

Queensland’s anti-abortion laws were dealt a sharp blow on October 14 when a Cairns couple were acquitted on charges brought under those laws. For almost two years, the political and legal establishment had tried to have the couple condemned, yet it took the 12 working people on the jury less than an hour to conclude they had no case to answer.

Views, Discussion & Debate

By Allen Myers

Official interest rates in the United States have been held almost to zero for nearly two years. In mainstream economic theory, low interest is a “stimulus” measure. The idea is that businesses are more willing to borrow and expand their operations when interest rates are low.

We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.

By Doug Lorimer

[The following is an abridged version of a talk presented to a Sydney Direct Action forum on November 6. Doug Lorimer is a member of the national executive of the Revolutionary Socialist Party.]

By John Percy

[This is an abridged and edited version of a talk to the International Conference on Diego Garcia organised by the Mauritian socialist group Lalit October 30-November 2. See the report on the conference].


Reviewed by Jon Lamb

The People’s Train
By Tom Keneally
Vintage 2009

Reviewed by Melanie Mayze

My Name is Rachel Corrie
Performed by Hannah Norris
Produced and directed by Daniel Clarke
Designed by Cassandra Backler
FortyFive Downstairs, Melbourne, November 8-14


By Steven Katsineris

Dear Editor,

In Their Own Words

McDonald’s School of Nutrition? BP Environmental Sciences?

“Many years ago, working with industry was not the done thing; now everyone is doing it.” – University of NSW vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer, announcing that the university will give naming rights of schools or faculties to big donors.