SRC President’s Report
Last week workers from across NSW came together for the annual May Day Rally. The history of May Day is born in struggle and for the achievement of justice and peace for the working class. And this is more relevant than ever when the attacks from the capitalist ruling class have been coming thick and fast. The SRC had a strong contingent at May Day which centred the right to strike as the key to how we will #changetherules.
In Australia, decades of legislative and structural changes have put workers and our trade unions on the defensive. Employers are tearing up legally binding Enterprise Agreements. Unions that exercise their right to strike face massive fines. Workers face cuts to penalty rates. Wage growth is at historic lows and 40% of Australians are in insecure work.
It is time to turn this trend around and make changes that will allow us to secure better wages and conditions and safer workplaces. This will be achieved by bold action by workers themselves along with support from affected communities – including students.
The ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign deserves support, but it is not enough. There is no prospect that the rules will change in any significant way without a serious industrial campaign by the union movement. That is the lesson of the entire history of the union movement. We cannot just rely on an incoming Labor government to improve the rights and conditions for workers. Both sides of parliament have consistently restricted the fundamental right for workers to withdraw their labour.
The right to strike has never been a “legal” right in Australia but workers have exercised their ability to take industrial action to advance their industrial interests. However, this ability has been seriously undermined by repressive laws that protect employers’ interests and criminalise workers collective action. Workers and their unions are now threatened, criminalised and fined if they fight for their rights in the workplace.
So stay in touch with the SRC Facebook page and follow the left intervention into the ACTU #ChangeTheRules campaign through The Right To Strike NSW who are petitioning for mass delegates meeting and week-day stop work rally in NSW (following the lead of Victoria Trades Hall).
Finally, next Saturday on May 12 there will be a protest at Sydney Town Hall to ‘Stop Black Deaths in Custody’. We know the disproportionate way in which Aboriginal people are targeted by the criminal justice system. Today, Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated group in the world, making up 27 percent of prison inmates while only 3 percent of the population. The SRC will be hosting stalls this week to promote the rally and we urge all students to attend this upcoming protest and call for real justice that will end these killings in custody. See event here – https://www.facebook.com/events/502574550136176/.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or email@example.com.
Education Officers Report
Lara Sonnenschein and Lily Campbell
Last week, we took part in a speak out organised by Students for Palestine against Israel’s massacres in Gaza. In five weeks of protests, 46 people have been killed, and hundreds more have been badly wounded. The action aimed to raise awareness of the issue and encourage solidarity with Palestine amongst the student body. The day was a success, with both of us speaking and drawing pertinent links between Palestine solidarity and our ongoing books not bombs campaign.
Our recent collective meeting agreed to take on building for the Black Deaths in Custody rally as a priority – we will be postering, leafleting and dropping a banner in the coming weeks to build for the protest. Please contact us if you’d like to help with this work and be a host of the student contingent Facebook event!
In terms of political developments, it’s been revealed that the University is planning on running an Arts course in Western Civilisation with the Ramsay centre – an organisation whose board includes Tony Abbott, John Howard, Kim Beazeley and Joe de Bruyn. We will be looking for opportunities to protest this in the future.
Last Tuesday, during a graduation ceremony, graduate Jodie Pall dropped a banner that demanded the university cut its ties to weapons manufacturers. This was an excellent action and one of many to come from Disarm Universities which ties in with the books not bombs campaign. In light of this, the SRC voted unanimously at council (minus the Libs) to support disarming USyd meaning 1) supporting divestment from weapons manufacturers 2) advocating for no new partnerships with arms companies and 3) condemning Belinda Hutchinson for her role as Chairwoman of Thales Australia and Chancellor.
The latest budget is soon to be released by the Turnbull government – whilst it will definitely be a classic class war budget from the Liberals, continuing to gut social services, especially welfare, it looks unlikely to include significant attacks on education. Thus, our capacity to organise a large demonstration similar to years past is somewhat limited. Regardless, we will be planning an action on campus following the budget in order to continue flying the flag for free education and against the militarisation of universities. Watch this space!