11 June 2017


Many pieces of media have written eulogies and obituary items on the death of Peter Bonsall-Boone - Bon to all and sundry - talking about his activism and things he was involved in during his long activist life - he died on 19 MAY 2017 aged 78.

I have not yet come across one, not even the AIDS Council of New South Wales - ACON - who have mentioned Bon's involvement with Community Support Network and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

Community Support Network circa 1990


"Bon did something about AIDS today"

- Bon walked the dog, then cooked a meal for Stewart. Stewart can't do all the things he was strong enough to do before. Stewart has AIDS. Bon visits Stewart as a volunteer of the Community Support Network. CSN volunteers learn many skills at our FREE course which enable them to assist a person living with AIDS to live with dignity and choices in their life.
It doesn't take much to do something about AIDS: ring today to find out about one of our information sessions.

Bon was involved with the training of volunteers who did the training course allowing people to care for people living with, and dying from HIV/AIDS.

Over the years Bon not only looked after people who were very ill, but often those who had been abandoned by friends and family because they were gay/lesbian and or had AIDS.

These were terrible years and they exacted a heavy toll on those who were carers - and cared!!! - and left many traumatised and in a worn-out emotional state.

Bon, who did so much, and cared so much, was not immune to the ravages of these times and abused his health many times, leaving him susceptible to all sorts of health problems, which no doubt created problems for him as he aged.

09 June 2017


Retail giant Aldi faces claims of wage theft and breaking the law

When Nichole McLaughlin asks her partner Paul Joyner what time he will be home from work, he often cannot answer.

With no finish time on his roster, Mr Joyner - a permanent part-time worker, not a casual - does not know what time he will leave work at Aldi's Stapylton distribution centre.

Paul Joyner said Aldi's work arrangements causes disruption to family life: "The school pick-up time would be the ...

Paul Joyner said Aldi's work arrangements causes disruption to family life: "The school pick-up time would be the hardest thing." Photo: Bradley Kanaris
The father-of-three also said he had worked for free for the retail giant to pay off "negative hours" accumulated because he was not given enough shifts to complete the hours he is contracted to work.
"I was at minus-78, and now I work extra to pay back those hours," Mr Joyner said. "And I don't get paid."
His claim is "categorically rejected" by Aldi, which said in a statement: "The enterprise agreement provides for an averaging arrangement of hours and employees receive payment for every hour worked."

Mr Joyner, who used to coach his son's soccer team, said the uncertainty caused disruption to his family life. He said it also made it difficult to make commitments such as taking his children to sporting events and leisure activities.

"The school pick-up time would be the hardest thing," Mr Joyner said. "We get it drummed into us 'You don't have a finish time'."

This lack of certainty created other worries for workers with children, he said. "Childcare's until 6 o'clock and then you start paying $2 every minute. So 10 minutes – there's 20 bucks. You do that a couple of times a week and it soon adds up."

Aldi is celebrating its one year anniversary this year. 
Aldi is celebrating its one year anniversary this year.
  Tim Gunstone, an organiser for the National Union of Workers, said Aldi's "peculiar employment arrangements" were stressful for workers.

"Workers are sent home early when it suits Aldi, but when the work is busier, or poorly planned by management, workers are told they have to stay at work until everything is finished," Mr Gunstone said.

"The lack of any finish time on rosters makes it impossible for workers to refuse the overtime they are being required to do."

Mr Gunstone said the NUW believed Aldi's employment practices were against the law because permanent part-time workers should be provided with the hours described in their employment contract in each pay period.
When a worker is required to work without pay to work off "negative hours" this is in effect wage theft.
Tim Gunstone, an organiser for the National Union of Workers.
"The second is that Aldi are requiring employees to work without payment when they are "paying off" the negative hours," he said. "The third is that permanent workers must be provided with a start and a finish time for their rostered shifts."

Mr Gunstone added: "When a worker is required to work without pay to work off "negative hours" this is in effect wage theft."

However, an Aldi spokeswoman said: "The suggestion that employees work unpaid overtime is categorically rejected."

She said workers received payment for their "contract hours" even if they do not work the required amount of time.

"They are then rostered to work additional hours above their contract in subsequent fortnights, to complete the hours for which they have already been paid," she said. "The Fair Work Commission has examined and approved this work arrangement as being lawful and suitable."

But the NUW is vowing to renew the fight and lodge a dispute with the Fair Work Commission if Mr Joyner's concerns cannot be resolved with Aldi.

"We would expect that such a dispute would be resolved by arbitration, and expect that a Commissioner would find that Paul was owed money for every hour he worked without payment while 'paying off negative hours'," Mr Gunstone said. "This could create a substantial underpayment affecting thousands of Aldi workers."

Associate Professor Angela Knox, from the University of Sydney Business School, questioned whether the arrangement was "good practice"
"There is a difference between a practice being legal and it being good, especially for workers," she said.

"This type of practice has been used in large chain hotels for over a decade but there are more 'checks and balances' in place, normally."

But Associate Professor Knox said caps were usually imposed to prevent workers accruing a debt as large as 78 hours.

She questioned whether Aldi's workers understood the ramifications of the provision, which created large "negative hours" balances.

"The specific details that would explain how the system operates are not outlined, hence managerial prerogative is maximised," she said.

​Aldi's spokeswoman said salaries were above market rates, while staff turnover was low: "Our working conditions are also considered to be some of the best in the industry, with independent employee satisfaction surveys returning consistently high scores."

​Mr Gunstone said he had spoken to more than 100 Aldi workers who had concerns about the company's practices but "they felt they had no choice but to accept it".

He said Aldi also tried to prevent its workers engaging with the union - a claim contested by the company.

"Aldi routinely place managers in lunchrooms when union organisers visit sites – for the explicit purpose of monitoring the unions engagements with workers," he said. "At Paul's workplace managers have repeatedly interrupted organiser conversations with employees."

Mr Joyner, who is a union delegate, said many of his colleagues shared his concerns about Aldi's work practices but feared the consequences of speaking out.

"They'd like to say stuff too but they're scared," he said.

With the impending arrival of retailers such as Amazon, Mr Gunstone said the conditions for warehouse workers were at risk.

"Aldi's work practices are one example of the ways in which these jobs are increasingly becoming insecure, and how many major retailers are increasingly involved in a race to the bottom when it comes to job security and casualisation," he said.

"Amazon – which is setting up in Australia – are known for their low wages and anti-union attitude."
Larissa Andelman, a barrister who practices in industrial law, said the Australian labour market had a very high level of casualisation, and the line between casual and permanent employment was often blurred.

"However the rise of 'zero hour' contracts in England has caused a significant financial hardship to those affected and there has been political and legal action to limit and cease these kind of arrangements," she said.

"It would be most unfortunate if these kind of arrangements were found lawful in Australia as they impact adversely on the most low paid and marginalised workers who are often young people and women."

08 June 2017


7 JUNE 2017
A '$47 million development' is about to force two elderly men out of their retirement village. Sign the petition to keep Richard and Stephen in their community: 

Stop Richard and Stephen from becoming homeless!

Retirement Village Residents Association
ASQUITH NSW, Australia
                                              The Castle Mk II
This is a script that appears to be similar to The Castle movie. However at this moment, it is more of a tragedy than a comedy. Unfortunately there is nothing “that is going straight to the pool room,” in this tragedy.
It is taking place at the Parkview Village in Waitara, where the residents were informed in mid 2014 that the village would be demolished by the owner, Vasey Housing Association, and replaced by a $47m 12 story building containing 117 units. This was the start of a drive to get all residents to vacate the buildings. They were successful in that there are only two residents left, Richard Best and Stephen Baume. 
At a Tribunal on the 9 June, Mr David Elkins the CEO of Vasey, has engaged one of Australia’s largest law firms to terminate the lifetime resident contract and evict Richard and Stephen, who will then be homeless.
Richard and Stephen are the only two souls left in the village that housed 55 residents. There was a lot of pressure on the residents to leave, which included bullying by way of a threat. At a budget meeting in late 2015, the residents were informed that due to the closure of the village, there would be an increase of $500 per quarter in their charges for residents remaining in the village. The oldest person to leave was a 92 year old lady; a terrible age to be forced to leave her home, friends, doctors and other support systems she had relied on for years.
Richard and Stephen are in their seventies and have lived there for 7 and 10 years respectively. They had been told that they had lifelong leases and could stay there until they died!
Have they been too demanding in their negotiations, which have caused this impasse? All they are asking for is like accommodation, but it must be in close proximity to where they are staying. They chose this village because it was ideally suited for their needs. Richard grew up and lived in this area for most of his life. There are extensive medical facilities close at hand with a variety of specialist doctors in the fields of oncology, cardiology which are needed. They have been using these services for years and would not like to change any of this, at this stage of their lives.
They do not want to change homes but if they have to, it is essential that they do not change their local environment and support systems. Walking around this deserted village without knowing if or when this matter will be resolved is extremely stressful and is potentially damaging to the health of a senior citizen. The anxiety caused has manifested itself in changes to their normal sleep patterns.
Richard and Stephen have been engaged for almost a year in fighting their cause, mostly on their own. However, as a result of the Tribunal proceedings to evict them, the RVRA (Retirement Village Residents Association) has started this petition on their behalf. Peter Hill, Hill & Co Lawyers, the RVRA honorary solicitor has agreed to defend these disadvantaged residents in this case, on a pro bono basis.
This is a very worthy cause, which we hope you will support by voting for this petition. 
Your one vote could easily turn to three, if you share this with two friends. Please do so; it makes an enormous difference to how soon we will be able to present the petition to the CEO of the Vasey Housing Association.
Thank you for your support!
For more information, come to our website: RVRA- www.rvra.com.au

07 June 2017


The improbable rise of Jeremy Corbyn

In late 2015 I had just arrived in London on sabbatical and was staying in a scruffy part of the city's north – full of cultural diversity and social disadvantage. On the first morning, as I emerged from my basement flat in search of the Sunday papers, a woman came towards me brandishing a greeting card and pen.

"Would you like to sign?" she asked. Just up the road was the strangely incongruous sight of a group of photographers pointing lenses at a modest '60s maisonette. "It's a congratulatory card," she explained, "from his neighbours to Jeremy. He's won."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn greeting supporters on the final week of the election campaign.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn greeting supporters on the final week of the election campaign. Photo: Getty Images
And then it dawned on me. I was lodging just along from the newly elected leader of the British Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn. I signed the card, explaining I was only a temporary neighbour, but was overjoyed at his victory.

Corbyn's rise is a most improbable political story. A complete outsider more at home marching with the comrades than debating in the Commons, he fought against apartheid, welfare cuts, privatisation and successive Gulf wars. He was on the progressive side of every major vote in his long parliamentary career.

In this week's election Corbyn is pledging to create a million new jobs and to scrap zero-hours contracts. 

 In this week's election Corbyn is pledging to create a million new jobs and to scrap zero-hours contracts. Photo: Getty Images

 The grim technocrats who ran Labour for a generation despised him or, at best, saw him as a sort of harmless beatnik curio. In the era of spin, a man who bought his clothes from the co-op supermarket and spent weekends tending cabbages on his allotment was never going to be taken seriously as a politician.

He made it onto the ballot paper only because a few MPs with no intention of voting for him signed his nomination form. They wanted to broaden the debate, but Corbyn's candidature prompted thousands of supporters to join the party. Under a system where the votes of ordinary members carry considerable weight, he won by a large margin.

Corbyn took up the job as leader of the opposition with the support of only a handful of the MPs who sat behind him. Most were convinced he was unelectable: the complete opposite of the polished, poll-driven sound-bite savvy politicians they believed themselves to be. But these disgruntled parliamentarians sat on their hands for a year until a challenge could be mounted.

Then a second ballot produced another emphatic Corbyn victory despite the fact Labour MPs had lined up to deliver withering public denunciations of a sort that would have sent most of us under the doona, sobbing. He responded to these attacks with an almost saintly forbearance.

Corbyn's equanimity comes from a sense that his constituency is beyond Westminster; that it is possible to cut through the white noise of public life – and the bilious scorn of the tabloids – by speaking directly to working people in the old-fashioned language of redistribution and social democracy. When radical MP Tony Benn retired from parliament in 2001, he declared he now intended "to devote more time to politics". Corbyn too, sees politics as a vocation, not a career.
Like Bernie Sanders he has thrived on the campaign trail, delivering passionate stump speeches to adoring crowds, with plenty of spontaneity, warmth and popular engagement. Theresa May, by contrast, appears wooden, remote and scripted.

The media paint Corbyn as a hard left ideologue, but Labour's manifesto simply revives the Keynesian tax-and-spend politics of social democracy, an approach Tony Blair jettisoned in favour of neo-liberalism. There is nothing frightening or outrageous in promising more resources for public health, transport and education. The nearly 30-point opinion poll lead the Tories enjoyed early in the campaign has narrowed to just a few points in the lead up to polling day.

But to win the election Labour must court the sort of voters who preferred Trump to Clinton last year. Those from the rustbelt towns are suspicious of the inner urban cultural elite members, which are well represented among Corbyn's constituents in Islington. As Simon Kuper wrote in the Financial Times the poor and disenfranchised don't believe those who "talk equality while living privilege".

Although Corbyn has been described as looking more like a geography teacher than a leader of the working class, he nevertheless has the common touch. When asked whether he would move into Downing Street if he became Prime Minister, he said, "I did not become leader of the Labour party to get a new house. There are going to be pressures. Security issues, no doubt. But I like where I live.

My neighbours like me being there as well, most of the time." I can vouch for that.

George Morgan is associate professor in the Institute of Culture and Society and the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University.


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm