WL Aus 38

Population levels and immigration: two responses

The following letters, abridged for space reasons, represent part of an ongoing debate. James Sinnamon makes a case and Martin Thomas replies.

For full text of this debate, click here.

Dear W L comrades,

Population levels and immigration have been taboo subjects within socialist circles.

Australia/Iraq Trade Union Solidarity (AusIraq)

A Sydney group of unionists and supporters has been formed to raise money for and build links with Iraqi unions.

In July last year a meeting initiated by Workers Liberty held at the Gaelic Club led to the formation of the Australia/Iraq Trade Union Solidarity group. Frustration with the refusal of most of the left to actively support the struggle of the workers’ movement in Iraq gave rise to this development.

Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), spoke to Martin Thomas when she visited Britain at the end of June. The following interview is heavily edited for space. For the full interview click here.

What does the OWFI do? For example, what were you doing in Baghdad in the week before you came to Britain?

Letter from Germany

According to the various polls in Germany they [the new Left Party [formed by former SPD left leader Oskar Lafontaine getting together with the PDS, the old CP] stood at around 12% for a while, over the last two weeks or so they dropped to 8%.

The Left Party just had their party congress last Saturday to decide on their final manifesto and didn't really kick off their campaign before that.

Letter from NZ

New Zealand goes to the polls on 17 September to elect a new government.

A close look at the parties shows that, from a working class point of view, there remains nothing to choose from between Labour and the opposition National Party. For instance, Labour, worried by slipping support,have announced a vote-catching policy of cancelling interest on student loans. Yet the accumulated student debt of $7 billion is a result of “user pays” policies introduced by Labour in the 1980s and pursued and extended by National Party through the following decade.

The Other America

I spent three interesting months in the U.S between April and the end of June.

I was last there in 1992. Post 9/11 there are a lot more American flags around on houses, buses, trains etc and my experiences of airline workers in particular was that they are much more stressed. One pilot I spoke to told me he had taken a $ 75,000 pay cut in one year last year, the justification being less people travelling post 9/11. Retirement could not come quick enough for the older pilots.

Feds want AWAs for TAFE

By a TAFE unionist

The Labor states had been unified in opposing a Federal government requirement that TAFEs offer individual contracts to employees.

Such offers are a condition of getting Federal funding which amounts to about 30% of TAFE funding, nearly $5 billion.

Williamtown Boeing

Since May Boeing maintenance workers at the RAAF base at Williamtown, NSW have been trying to negotiate a collective agreement through their union.

After years of being played off against each other in secret, individual contracts AWU workers finally demanded that Boeing negotiate a collective deal on wages and conditions. Boeing has responded with the use of scab labour. A continuous picket line has been held since June.

Gate Gourmet

In August Gate Gourmet, a US-owned firm, sacked workers at Heathrow Airport, London, who provide airline food for British Airways and replaced them by scab labour.

In scenes reminiscent of the balaclavas and guard dogs escorting workers from the waterfront here in 1998, seven hundred Heathrow workers were fired over five hours, many with three minutes notice over a megaphone in the company's car park. They were replaced by a smaller number of temporary workers.

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