Daily Archives: August 15, 2011

Construction industry to face a wave of wildcat strikes

[From Site Worker]
The UK construction industry seems set for an autumn of strikes. 500 rank & file construction workers from around the country voted unanimously to organise a series of unofficial wildcat strikes in opposition to the 35% pay cut proposed by the construction employers. Major projects such as the Olympics, Media City Manchester and large power stations could be disrupted by the unofficial action.

The main issue is the pay cuts announced by 8 major contractors set to take place in March 2012, following their decision to pull out of the nationally negotiated industry agreement. The proposals would mean 3 new grades for electricians: metalworker £10.50 per hour, £12 for wiring, £14 for terminating. At the moment, electricians Joint Industry Board (JIB) rate is £16.25p per hour across the board. For the worst hit this amounts to a 35% pay cut.

The historic meeting held in Conway Hall London was organised by union activists from London and the South coast linked to the rank and file Site Worker magazine. The assembled electricians and pipefitters sent a clear message to JIB/HVCA employers and UNITE the union that they will not accept the deskilling of their trade or the pay cuts to their national agreements. The last time the electrical contractors attempted to cut wages by de-skilling the electrical trade in 1999 it provoked a series of wildcat strikes on the Jubilee Line, Royal Opera House, Pfizers and power generation projects across the UK.

Conway Hall was packed standing room only. The meeting heard excellent speeches about the attacks on wages and the attacks on union activists because of the notorious Consulting Association construction industry blacklist. The meeting agreed that it was time for everyone present to stand up and fight these attacks all the way to spread the word on sites and in their workplaces. It was not about blaming overseas migrant workers, it was our fight it we must be united, disciplined and determined. The battle begins right here right now, we must win this fight future generations are depending on us.

The meeting made is clear that the idea of forming a new union should not be considered it had had been tried in the past with EPIU, now we are back in the same union we are far stronger.

The crowd chanted and the mood was electric biggest meeting since the days of the Jubilee Line.

A motion was passed unanimously that unite must ballot members who are working for JIB firms who have been told that the terms & conditions will be changing in March 2012 immediately and a campaign must be set up by unite distributing leaflets to all sites around the country opposing these attacks on our industry and to have regular feedback to the members.

It was agreed to call for unofficial action asap on large sites and that other sites should come in solidarity, rather than wait for a ballot , this would put the whole issue out in the open.

A national rank and file committee was elected

Moving forward there is a UNITE stewards meeting in Leeds 17th August and delegated leaders from the newly elected national rank and file committee will be going armed with the motion and a mandate from 500 people.

Further rank and file meetings will be held around the country in the coming months in Manchester and Liverpool and also other areas next year. This new movement is on a high and we can spread the mood around the country and throughout construction, there will be attacks on other trades too we should try and build things involving UCATT and GMB members as well.

for more info contact:

siteworkers

yours in solidarity

Alan Keys

Gallery

Refugee Poll SMH/Age…majority oppose offshore processing but support detention

This gallery contains 1 photos.

CHILDREN and Young People interrogated for 13 hours upon arrival at Christmas Is. This contrasts with treatment of people arriving on the island of Lampedusa off the Sicilian coast. Reception on Christmas island chillier than Reception on Lampedusa near Sicily … Continue reading

Yindjibarndi may appeal mining leases

[Aboriginal News]

Media RELEASE 15 August 2011

YINDJIBARNDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION, Roebourne, WA

On Friday 12 August the Full Federal Court handed down its decision rejecting a challenge by the Yindjibarndi People against the grant of three mining leases to Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) for its Solomon Hub project.

YAC advises that it is seeking advice about appealing this decision by the Federal Court to the High Court of Australia.

“We are disappointed with the decision but it comes as no surprise. This confirms what we have known all along, that the Native Title Act is a bad piece of legislation that consistently works against the interests of the first Australians. What is worse is that the system gives us no chance against the teams of company lawyers, land access managers and FMG’s unlimited war chest. The deck has been stacked against us,” Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Michael Woodley, said.

Mr Woodley said that while some companies are at least attempting to give the appearance of honouring the spirit of the Native Title Act, FMG is giving industry a bad name by using the NTA for their own profit. He said the NTA is gravely flawed because it has no power to oblige FMG to fairly compensate for the massive damage of their Solomon Hub project while a native title determination on the Yindjibarndi #1Claim is pending; and that FMG is cleverly using this to convince the poorest of Yindjibarndi members that they should sign up to a whole-of-country agreement that will forever subordinate Yindjibarndi rights to FMG’s interests in the much larger area of their original determination.

Mr Woodley said that it should be absolutely clear, this agreement is not just about the Solomon Hub, it will lock the Yindjibarndi People out of any part of Yindjibarndi country in which FMG wants to mine, now and at any time in the future; and it allows FMG to economically benefit from the on-selling of these ‘cleared’ tenements to third parties without further reference to the Yindjibarndi people.

“On the promise of a one-off, half-million dollar signing fee – ‘mining welfare’ at its worst – the breakaway Wirlumurra (WYAC) group have been conned into supporting FMG. They have simply swallowed the FMG line that if Yindjibarndi don’t accept what’s offered now, they will get nothing. However the Full Court of the Federal Court made it clear that FMG remains liable for compensation. If Mr Power believes that by continually repeating the lie, ‘Fortescue has an agreement which the majority of the Yindjibarndi community overwhelmingly supports’, that it will become true, he is mistaken,” Mr Woodley said.

“There is no ‘close co-operation with the Yindjibarndi’ as Mr Power claims. They have invaded our community and divided our families by promising cash to the weakest of our countrymen. They have wrecked any possibility of trust. In a modern business landscape, tactics such as those being employed by FMG have no place,” said Mr Woodley. “FMG shareholders would be ashamed if they knew what their company is doing in our town.”

“Far from supporting our community to become independent,” said Mr Woodley, “FMG’s ruthless drive to be the lowest cost producer, for its own benefit and that of its shareholders, means Yindjibarndi will pay the price. This agreement locks us into a deal that falls far short of industry standards and deprives Yindjibarndi of the opportunity to benefit from the vast wealth that will be extracted from our traditional lands. We need an income capable of establishing our own sustainable economic, cultural and environmental enterprises, so we can have meaningful control over our future.”

“We have no choice but to continue to defend our country against greed and against those who disrespect our beliefs and customs. YAC would be in dereliction of its fiduciary responsibilities if we bound our people to a third-rate agreement that steals the cultural inheritance of all future generations of Yindjibarndi people. We should never forget that this resource will be mined only once, and that this agreement is open ended – it runs for as long as FMG wants. We will get no second chances.”

Mr Woodley said it is important for all Australians to understand that both the NTA and the actions of FMG contravene both the guarantee of religious freedom laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the right of self-determination enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was endorsed by Australia in 2009.

“UNDRIP in particular recognises the right of all indigenous peoples to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples; and to not be subjected to forced assimilation or the destruction of their culture. It also requires redress for any action which has the effect of dispossessing us of our traditional lands or resources, or deprives us of our cultural values and integrity as distinct peoples.” ICCPR http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm
UNDRIP http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/drip.html

As it stands, the 60 million tonne, $10.2 billion per annum ‘Firetail’ mine proposed by FMG, lies wholly within Yindjibarndi country; the agreement FMG has made with WYAC can not be registered with the NNTT because WYAC have absolutely no legal authority to sign any deal on behalf of the Yindjibarndi Nation; by law, the right to conclude any binding land use agreement falls to YAC, as the Prescribed Body Corporate (PBC) for the determination area, and to the named applicants for the Yindjibarndi #1 Claim area; YAC and the clear majority of the Claimants – five to two – have repeatedly stated that they will never sign the agreement currently proposed by FMG; and without a registered land use agreement, FMG will not achieve certainty and stability over its operations on Yindjibarndi country because it will remain liable for proper compensation.

“The recent Federal Court decision will not ‘dispose’ of Yindjibarndi challenges, as Mr Power hopes,” Mr Woodley said. “In 2009 YAC resolved to take our fight for justice all the way to the United Nations if necessary, because there are fundamental issues of human rights at stake here and we are determined to get a fair and just outcome. But it is terrifying to think that while government turns a blind eye, Yindjibarndi heritage and culture may be wiped away forever from the history books of our country.”

MEDIA CONTACT:
Michael Woodley, CEO Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation 0419 097 130 mwoodley@juluwarlu.com.au
For background & research materials please visit: http://www.yindjibarndi.org.au=

FMG Solomon Mining Lease: Fact Sheet

From: “Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation” <media>
Date: 9 August 2011 11:04:30 PM
Subject: FMG Solomon Mining Lease Fact Sheet

Dear Madame/Sir,

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has made a number of statements in recent weeks regarding the status of their Solomon Hub project.

The news service, AAP, has reported variously that FMG “insists it has all the approvals needed to proceed with its Solomon iron ore project”; that FMG’s new chief executive, Neville Power, claims “construction is advancing rapidly and first ore production is slated for the March quarter of 2013”; and that “Fortescue had obtained all of the legal clearances it needed to proceed with Solomon”.

Also, in their June 30 2011 Quarterly Report Fortescue announced that the “final piece of mining tenure for Solomon has been granted following the favourable ruling from the Native Title Tribunal”.

Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation would like to clarify that FMG has not concluded a land access agreement with the Yindjibarndi people; that the Full Federal Court is now considering the validity of both the Firetail and Valley of the Kings Mining Leases, and either way, the validity of these leases may well be the subject of a further appeal to the High Court; the fourth mining lease comprising the Solomon Hub has not been granted at all; Miscellaneous Licences for infrastructure (an airport, roads, power lines, accommodation village, etc.) in the same areas of Yindjibarndi Country as these three Mining Leases (M47/1409, M47/1411 and M47/1413), and in excess of 100 Miscellaneous Licences, to develop a railway to transport ore from the proposed ‘Firetail’ mine to the proposed Anketell Port, have not been granted. YAC has objected to all of these Miscellaneous Licences.

YAC’s POSITION: Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, as the chosen representative body of the Yindjibarndi People, a Prescribed Body Corporate under the Native Title Act, and the corporate trustee for the Yindjibarndi People, will continue to oppose FMG’s project in Yindjibarndi Country until such time as a fair and just agreement has been negotiated between YAC and FMG.

The lack of such an agreement means that FMG will not have the certainty and stability over its operations on Yindjibarndi country, which a properly concluded land access agreement (registered with the Native Title Tribunal) would provide. Another consequence is that without such agreement, uncertainty in respect of FMG’s future liability for compensation remains.

A DETAILED FACT SHEET IS ATTACHED. Also downloadable at:
http://yindjibarndi.org.au/yindjibarndi/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/FMG-Solomon-Mining-Lease-Fact-Sheet-04-08-11-v3.pdf

Regards,
Michael Woodley
CEO Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation
0419 097 130
mwoodley
media

NEWS & INFORMATION ARCHIVE: Articles regarding Yindjibarndi and FMG plus background & research
http://www.yindjibarndi.org.au/

FACEBOOK
http://yindjibarndi.org.au/facebook.html

YINDJIBARNDI ABORIGINAL CORPORATION
I.C.N. Number 4370
A.B.N. Number 97 456 543 455

THE FACTS ABOUT FMG’s PROPOSED ‘SOLOMON HUB’ IN YINDJIBARNDI COUNTRY

Background 4 August 2011

FMG has applied for 43 exploration licences, 4 mining leases and more than 100 miscellaneous licences in Yindjibarndi Country. The proposed “Solomon” project, which would be authorised by the grant of all these mining tenements, will have a massive impact on the exercise of native title rights in both the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Area and the area covered by the Yindjibarndi #1 Native Title Claim. It will also prevent the continuation of particular religious observances by the Yindjibarndi traditional owners.

Collectively FMG’s mining tenements will cover 4,475 square kilometres of the Determination Area and over 1,800 square kilometres of the Claim Area. FMG’s proposed railway will also affect both the Determination Area and the Claim Area.

The Native Title in the Determination Area is held in trust by Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC), for the benefit of the Yindjibarndi People – a distinct society of Aboriginal people, united under and bound together by a traditional system of law. As the legal owner of the Native Title, YAC alone has power to negotiate agreements which affect the exercise of native title rights in the Determination Area.

The Native Title of the Yindjibarndi People in the Yindjibarndi Claim Area is yet to be determined by the Federal Court. In the interim (because the Claim has been ‘registered’ under the Native Title Act) it attracts the ‘right to negotiate’ agreements in respect of proposed developments that will affect the exercise of native title rights in the Claim Area. This right to negotiate is held by seven Yindjibarndi persons who, jointly, comprise ‘the Applicant’ for the Yindjibarndi #1 Native Title Claim. In 2007 those seven persons jointly authorised YAC to lead all negotiations that affect both the Determination Area and the Claim Area.

Given the magnitude of FMG’s proposed Solomon project, YAC tried to negotiate an agreement that would deliver substantial economic benefits for the society of the Yindjibarndi People – an agreement not dissimilar in outcomes to those in the agreement between FMG and Cazaly Resources over the Rhodes Ridge project, which conferred a royalty of 2% FOB revenue pa.

FMG rejected YAC’s approach and instead negotiated an agreement with the splinter Wirlumurra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (WYAC), which has no legal right to negotiate anything that affects Native Title in Yindjibarndi Country. YAC will not execute that agreement and neither will the Applicant. This means that instead of having certainty and stability over its operations on Yindjibarndi country, which a properly concluded land access agreement registered with the Native Title Tribunal would provide, FMG will be compelled to make applications for native title approvals in relation to each of its tenements against the objections of YAC. Another consequence is that it creates uncertainty in respect of FMG’s future liability for compensation – for loss of the use of the land affected by the proposed project; and for any social disruption caused to the Yindjibarndi People by FMG’s activities. YAC will continue to oppose FMG’s project in Yindjibarndi Country until such time as a fair and just agreement has been negotiated between YAC and FMG.

The current position in respect of the mining tenements required by FMG for the Solomon project is set out below.

FMG’s “Firetail” Mining Lease (M47/1413)

• The proposed 60 mtpa ‘Firetail’ mine site is to be developed on Mining Lease M47/1413. This mining lease is situated in the Yindjibarndi #1 Claim Area – in a part of Yindjibarndi Country where Yindjibarndi people have always enjoyed a right of exclusive possession. The area is used, among other things, for religious ceremonies; and contains sites that are sacred under the religious beliefs of the Yindjibarndi People.

• YAC objected to the grant of M47/1413; however, in mid-2009, the National Native Title Tribunal (Tribunal) made a determination that it could be granted.

• The Tribunal’s determination was appealed (on religious and Constitutional grounds) to a single Judge of the Federal Court; and, then to the Full Court of the Federal Court.

However, a legal technicality prevented an order staying the Tribunal’s determination until such time as the Full Court determined the appeal. Accordingly, the State Government granted the lease. The Full Court is now considering the validity of that grant.

• Because the appeal raises issues under the Commonwealth Constitution, the decision of the Full Court, one way or the other, may well be the subject of a further appeal to the High Court.

FMG’s “Valley of the Kings” Mining Leases (M47/1409 and M47/1411)

• The proposed “Valley of the Kings” mine site is to be developed on Mining Leases M47/1409 and M47/1411, both of which partially affect Yindjibarndi country (74% of the former and 5% of the latter fall within Yindjibarndi Claim Area). Again, these leases affect areas where Yindjibarndi people have always enjoyed a right of exclusive possession; and are used, among other things, for religious ceremonies. These areas also contain sites that are sacred under the religious beliefs of the Yindjibarndi People • These two mining leases were granted under identical circumstances as those surrounding the grant of M47/1413, and the validity of M47/1409 is likewise the subject of an appeal to the Full Federal Court, which raises the same religious and constitutional arguments as the appeal against the grant of M47/1413.

• This appeal likewise raises issues under the Commonwealth Constitution; and so the decision of the Full Court, one way or the other, may well be the subject of a further appeal to the High Court.

FMG’s Application for Mining Lease M47/1431

• This mining lease has not been granted.

• The application is the subject of an Objection lodged by YAC in the Mining Wardens Court under the WA Mining Act. That Objection has been heard but has not yet been determined by the Wardens Court; and, one way or the other, the Wardens’ Court determination may well be the subject of an appeal.

FMG’s Applications for Miscellaneous Licences

• FMG has applied for eight Miscellaneous Licences, to develop infrastructure (an airport, roads, power lines, accommodation village, etc.) in the same areas of Yindjibarndi Country that are affected by the three Mining Leases (M47/1409, M47/1411 and M47/1413).

However, these Miscellaneous Licences have not been granted because YAC lodged Objections against the grant of each of them in the Mining Wardens Court under the WA Mining Act. Those Objections have been heard but have not yet been determined by the Wardens Court and, again, one way or the other, the Wardens’ Court determinations may well be the subject of appeals.

• FMG has applied for in excess of 100 Miscellaneous Licences, to develop a railway to transport ore from the proposed ‘Firetail’ mine to the proposed Anketell Port.

• YAC has objected to all of these Miscellaneous Licences and those Objections have not yet been heard.

Yindjibarndi Heritage Issues

• FMG has obtained conditional consent, under the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act, to disturb ‘for the first time’ an area of ground, which is situated in the Firetail M47/1413 lease area. However FMG is required to work through those conditions with YAC and this has not yet occurred.

YAC’s Position

• Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation is the chosen representative institution of the Yindjibarndi People, a Prescribed Body Corporate under the Native Title Act, and the corporate trustee for the Yindjibarndi People.

• YAC will continue to oppose FMG’s project in Yindjibarndi Country until such time as a fair and just agreement has been negotiated between YAC and FMG.

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