Justine Armin, Pelin Ersoy, Declan Maher and Michelle Picone
Memories of May 68 are being rekindled in France as students and workers have, over recent weeks, taken to the streets to oppose the dismantling of labour protections that would see workers be subject to the whims of their bosses. These reforms will allow bosses to increase working hours over the offical 35 a week and give them greater ease to fire workers, amongst other attacks. Strikes, high school pickets and street rallies with participants numbering 450,000 occurred across the country on March 9, against these reforms being pushed by a so called Socialist government. Subsequently on March 31, a national day of strikes and protests involved over a million participants.
Elsewhere, the leak of the Panama papers has revealed the depths of greed and corruption of the global elite – while workers and the poor face austerity worldwide, the parasites at the top of society get richer still. However, the immense power of ordinary people to fight back was shown in Iceland, where their Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who was implicated in the scandal, was forced to resign after a whole 10% of the nation’s population came out in protest.
Closer to home, 30,000 people marched to the Australian embassy in Dili in Timor-Leste against Australia’s theft of Timor’s oil resources. Rallies were also held in several cities in Australia to demand an end to the theft of the resources of one of the world’s poorest nations by one of the richest. I attended the demonstration in Melbourne at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can find out more about the campaign on the Timor Sea Justice Campaign Facebook page.
As usual, our own government, in tandem with governments around the world, continues to attack education – Liberal minister for education Simon Birmingham has announced that fee deregulation never left the agenda, the threshold for the repayment of HECS debt will be lowered, and that the government will pursue the debt of deceased students. The Global Solidarity Office will be partaking in the speak-out against attacks on education on Wednesday the 13th of April at Fisher Library.