Monday, March 27, 2006

Workers protest first day of new IR regime

SA workers gathered outside Senator Nick Minchin’s office in Adelaide on Monday – the first day the Howard Government’s new industrial relations laws came into force. Minchin distinguished himself recently in an address to the savagely anti-union HR Nicholls Society by revealing that a new round of pro-boss IR legislation is in the pipeline. The protest heard from Naracoorte meatworker Jamie Stokie who, along with workmates, has been locked out of his workplace at Teys Bros. Abattoirs for refusing to sign a totally unacceptable Australian Workplace Agreement. The company has responded to the solidarity among its employees by importing 30 guest workers with type 457 visas – a category of travel document usually issued to businessmen. Jamie warned the gathering that his experience is a foretaste of things to come in the workplace of the near future.

Friday, March 24, 2006

CPA Guatemala appeal underway

The Communist Party of Australia’s appeal for the victims of Hurricane Stan in Guatemala was kicked off with a function in Adelaide last week. CPA Central Committee member, CFMEU organiser and long-time Latin America solidarity activist, Vinnie Molina, spoke to a visual presentation about Guatemala’s troubled recent history and the current devastation at a gathering at the Semaphore Workers Club.

Vinnie’s observations have been gathered first hand. He came to Australia from Guatemala in 1995 and returned to visit his homeland last December. His account of social conditions in Guatemala is compelling. The formal restoration of democracy in 1996 has done little to alleviate the suffering of the masses of the poor and oppressed in Guatemala. The leaders of the brutal war against the people — which lasted 36 years and cost the lives of 200,000 (mostly Indigenous) people — still walk free. Guatemala now suffers with the lawlessness and violence associated with the drug trade and faces the job of overcoming the huge damage caused by Hurricane Stan last October.

Local singer-songwriter Vicente Barrientos entertained those attending the information night and fundraiser with songs of struggle from Latin America. The Port Branch of the CPA ran a raffle and sold food at the function, which raised $218.60 for the appeal.

Insights from visiting Venezuelan Communist

Carolus Wimmer is a deputy to the Latin American Parliament for Venezuela and head of the International Bureau of the Communist Party of Venezuela. He was also special adviser to the Chairman of the country’s National Assembly from 2001-2002 and Chairman of the International Relations Committee of the National Assembly from 2002-2003. He founded the theoretical journal Debate Abierto (Open Debate) in 1997 and produces a weekly radio program dealing with social and political questions.

He recently completed a very successful speaking tour of several Australian cities at the invitation of the Venezuela Solidarity Network, which includes the Communist Party of Australia. In Adelaide, he took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Bob Briton of The Guardian about the dramatic changes taking place in Venezuela and Latin America and the challenges still facing the Bolivarian Revolution.Read more