On the evening of August 4, a fire in what is believed to be a fireworks factory, led to a small explosion in the port area of Beirut, Lebanon. Subsequently there was a massive explosion of a warehouse holding 2,700 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
Ammonium nitrate is a common fertilizing agent - and is also the main ingredient in some types of explosives. The chemical had been stored in the warehouse since 2014 when it had been seized from a Russian cargo ship. It has been reported that Lebanese customs officials wrote letters to the judiciary at least six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to dispose of the highly combustible material – reportedly not getting any response. Because of the nature of the materials they were unable to act. Other reports are that customs officials did not follow proper procedures: they simply kept resending the same letters in response to the judge’s request for more information.Read more
In the last fortnight, the franchise industry has called for the scrapping of weekend and evening penalty rates. They have said that the COVID-19 pandemic can be used to “shift the paradigm” on industrial relations.
Also in the last fortnight, the High Court of Australia ruled against giving part time and shift workers sick leave based on the number of hours worked, versus the number of days worked. It means that workers working 8 hour days, and workers working 12 hour days, accrue the same amount of sick leave. Cadbury argued that a “normal day” was 7.6 hours, and every worker could accrue no more than 10 x 7.6 hour days in sick leave. This was a battle fought by Cadbury workers, represented by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. The AMWU won this fight in the Federal Court. But Cadbury took the fight higher. The new decision will save employers billions of dollars in our wages, and costs us billions of dollars in lost wages.Read more
COVID-19 is a very contagious, and very deadly disease.
It spreads easily, it spreads through the air.
It spreads in workplaces.
Staying home will stop the spread.
But some workers can’t stay at home.Read more
Joel, Delegate for the Rail Tram and Bus Union
How long have you been a union member?
Since I commenced my first job at 15 – 11 years now.
Why did you join the union?
I’ve made signing up to the union and becoming active a priority at every job I’ve started at. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family where everyone who has joined the workforce has been a union member. It’s just been the done thing.Read more
This edition’s feature article comes from our comrades, the workers at Toronto International Airport, who have been fighting an industrial battle in light of the devastation of their workplace because of the COVID-19 pandemic
At first glance, the answer would seem to be yes. Police officers need to sell their labour power to their employer like the rest of us. Nevertheless, the position that police hold in our society and the work that they perform makes them different to almost every other worker. This separation has existed from the very origins of policing and police forces.Read more
The Capitalists Are Not United
It is now the end of May and so far, COVID-19 has been cited as the cause of death for about 350,000 people worldwide and has infected about 5.5 million people. The global response to the pandemic has been variable, but most countries have introduced some form of shut down measures, which include social distancing and business closures. The economic fallout has been severe. Many businesses will be wiped out, and some industries will take years to recover.Read more
The world is still reeling from the shock and speed of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the social and economic ruin it has brought. Whilst the impact of the pandemic has been uneven, the best outcomes in terms of saving lives have been achieved in those countries which have prioritised communities achieving effective physical distancing to stop the spread of the virus over enabling businesses to make profits. In all countries, the virus has caused considerable economic disruption, and businesses and governments have begun to push to reopen economies and to shift the crisis onto working people. While this push will not necessarily be successful, to effectively resist this move, it is important that we understand the current crisis and the attacks which are likely to be launched against workers.Read more