August Astromusings – Jupiter in Virgo – Workers of the World Unite! UK Labour Party Candidates Vye for Position of Labour Party leader

Hi dear friends,

Good news for the Virgoans – now that lucky Jupiter has entered into Virgo where it will reside for one year. Virgo rules the 6th house of work and health and so we can expect to see issues to do with the workers, trade unions and the Labor party in the ascendancy.

Justice Dyson Heydon

Justice Dyson Heydon

The Royal Commission into Trade Unions has been front and centre in the news with the recent grilling of Labor opposition leader, Bill Shorten, by Commissioner Dyson Heydon. Now there is even more controversy with Justice Dyson Heydon’s perceived conflict of interest of having had to pull out of addressing the Sir Garfield Barwick oration for a Liberal party fundraiser. Jupiter or Zeus, his Greek counterpart, was king of the gods so Jupiter magnifies anything it touches. Labor has written to the prime minister, Tony Abbott, calling on him to reveal how much former high court justice Dyson Heydon is receiving to head up the royal commission into trade union corruption. In February it was revealed that the government was paying the lead lawyer in the commission, Jeremy Stoljar, $3.36m for less than two years’ work.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) may take Heydon to the high court over his decision to speak at the event. The president of the ACTU, Ged Kearney, has called on Abbott to sack Heydon. It has been revealed that Justice Dyson Heydon was on the panel that awarded Tony Abbott his Rhodes Scholarship so Justice Heydon has had a long association with the Liberal Party. Even Julian Burnside said that Justice Heydon should do the honourable thing by resigning from the Commission. We have yet  another disastrous captain’s pick by Tony Abbott coming close on the heels of the ignominious dismissal of Bronwyn Bishop, the speaker of the house, after her profligate spending at taxpayer’s expense was exposed by the media. Reminiscent of another disastrous captain’s pick awarding the Duke of Edinburgh the Knight of the Order of Australia – all calling into question once again Tony Abbott’s poor judgment.

Bronnygate

Bronnygate

Arise Sir Phil!

Arise Sir Phil!

Penalty Rates

Penalty Rates protestAnother focus on workers and workers’ rights has been the Liberal government’s ongoing attempt to abolish penalty rates. The release of the Productivity Commission’s issues papers into the workplace relations framework is reigniting the industrial relations (IR) debate. And given the minimum wage looks to be in the commissions’ firing line, low paid workers should hope that along with productivity and competitiveness, terms that are often used when talking about IR, inequality is also given priority. Greg Jericho of the Guardian points out that In the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, the minimum to median wage ratio in Australia has fallen the most of any OECD nation. If our high minimum wage is hurting our competitiveness, it is doing so much less now than it did in the past. If the Liberal government gets its way in abolishing penalty rates we risk going down the slippery slope of America’s working poor, as President Obama acknowledged in a recent speech, referring to the 43 million workers in America who were not entitled to sick leave, and he repeated his call for the Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, arguing “If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than US$15,000 a year, try it.”

There is an article in the Guardian where a single mother makes an impassioned plea not to cut her penalty rates. She said she had to sacrifice time with her kids to work weekends in order to lift her wage from poverty level to subsistence level. She claims that it is the only way she can pay her bills and feed her kids.

Parliamentary Cleaners on Strike

Male toiletThere is another issue to do with workers’ salaries that has come into sharp focus with the cleaners who clean Parliament House in Canberra striking for a week from Monday 17 Aug to Saturday 22 August. As one wit put it MPs and senators returning to Canberra this week will have more than just their electoral seats to worry about, as parliamentary cleaners begin a week of industrial action refusing to clean toilet seats and bathrooms throughout Parliament House.

United Voice said the number of cleaners in Parliament House had dropped dramatically since the building opened in 1988, from about 100 to just 40. Given the group is in charge of keeping standards up across the building’s 4,700 rooms, Ms Ryan said the cleaners deserved a pay rise. She said the cleaners wages had been frozen since July 2013. “To add insult to injury, we start hearing all the reports of politicians’ entitlements, we hear about ‘Bronny-gate’ and the general excesses around the use of their entitlements,” Ms Ryan said.”It’s really tough if you’re on minimum wage, or close to, to hear about how other people live, what they expect to receive, what they expect the public to fund, and then the cleaners to be left so far behind.

Hutchison-Ports-Workers-Continue-Protests-Despite-Orders-to-Cease

Solidarity for Ever – Wharfies strike to protest dismissal by text

Hundreds of union members gathered at the Port of Brisbane to protest the sacking of more than 40 workers by text message at 11.30 pm Thursday 6 August. Hutchison Ports informed 41 permanent staff by text message to check their emails on Friday evening. The email outlined their contracts had been terminated. Protest organiser Paul Petersen said it had been a distressing weekend for those involved. “They went and read their email and it said they weren’t welcome to come back and pick up their personal belongings,” Mr Petersen said. Hutchison Ports claimed it’s incurring substantial financial losses and is downsizing, but the MUA believes it’s trying to increase automation at its ports and is using excuses to lay off staff. To add insult to injury the federal Employment Minister Eric Abetz said that it’s OK to sack workers via text message,

Federal Court judge Darryl Rangiah ruled in favour of the MUA in its “urgent” petition against the sacking of 97 workers at the two ports. The ruling said Hutchison had failed to properly “consult” with its workforce and had ignored a dispute resolution clause in its EBA when the company suddenly imposed forced redundancies by text message and email at midnight on August 6. The court will now hear the union’s full case against the sackings on August 31, including a claim for penalties and damages.

A Hutchison delegate told the rally: “We stuck solid and have had a win. Thanks to all the other maritime workers and other unionists who have supported us so strongly.

“This is just the first round of the battle. The fight has just started.”

Corporate Tax Avoidance

Dodging Corporate taxOn the other end of the spectrum the Federal Labor MP Sam Dastyari is leading a charge against the big end of town by advocating naming and shaming companies who are dodging tax. The parliamentary committee, chaired by Labor senator Sam Dastyari, had been investigating multi-billion-dollar tax avoidance by some of Australia’s biggest companies, as well as multinationals that operate locally.

Senator Dastyari said, “You have a series of Australia’s most powerful companies fighting against any transparency measure to actually reveal what goes on behind closed doors between them and the [Australian] Tax Office. What you have is a handful of multinational companies who have been gaming the system for years. Tax evasion, tax avoidance, tax minimisation has real human consequences, because it means the money that needs to be there to support the services we all believe in, isn’t there.” Tech giants Apple, Google and Microsoft were amongst several companies which appeared before the inquiry examining the adequacy of Australia’s current tax laws, the work of the ATO and whether more transparency was needed to deter profit shifting and tax avoidance. Australian mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto also came under the spotlight, as did the pharmaceuticals sector. A whistleblower revelation has exposed that ten foreign multinationals shifted $31 billion in revenue in one year to dodge Australian tax.

It draws into stark contrast the plight of workers in fear of losing their penalty rates and the parliamentary cleaners fighting for a small rise in their salary as compared to the wealthy corporations getting away with paying their fair share of tax by the practice of tax minimisation and the recent scandal of rorting by politicians of their parliamentary entitlements.

UK Labour Party candidates

UK Labour Party candidates

UK Labour Party Candidates Vye for Position of Labour Party Leader

Jeremy Corbyn's natal chart

The UK Labour is also in the spotlight after the devastating defeat of the Labour party in the recent UK elections when the Tories lead by David Cameron had a resounding victory defying all the pundits. There are candidates jostling for position as the leader of the Labour opposition. Recent polls show that Jeremy Corbyn is the front runner. Jeremy Cobyn is an old style leftie born 26 May 1949 in Chippenham Wiltshire UK (time unknown). With a stellium (a cluster of planets in Gemini – Sun, Venus, Mercury and Uranus he has the gift of the gab. I listened to a youtube clip of him addressing a concert in which Billy Bragg played, held to honour the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Corbyn has a grand trine in air with his planets in Gemini trining Jupiter in Aquarius and Neptune in Libra so he would tend to live in his head and be quite idealistic. He could also be quite stubborn and volatile with his Mars probably conjunct his Moon in the sign of Taurus squaring his Pluto in Leo. At first people dismissed him as a viable proposition for the Labour leadership but suddenly, the fact that he has never held power or even had the ear of anyone in power is working in his favour. He is not tainted with New Labour brand of Tony Blair or Ed Milliband as are the other three candidates, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, and Liz Kendall. What distinguishes Jeremy Corbyn from the other Labour leadership candidates is that he says he wants a “fundamental shift” in economic policy and for Labour to be a “credible alternative” rather than “Tory light”. Jeremy Corbyn said he could work with Andy Burnham should the latter win the Labour leadership contest. In turn Mr Burnham had earlier said that if he won he would offer Mr Corbyn a role.

We are in a period of Venus retrograde — a time to reassess values, or, in the case of Corbyn, to return to old values. He is more in the mould of the younger generation of leaders in Southern Europe, lead by Tsipras in Greece or Italy’s Matteo Renzi or the founder of Spain’s Podemos party, Pablo Iglesias.  For those old enough to remember Corbyn from the 1980s – he was active during the miners’ strike, anti-apartheid, fighting for justice for the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu,  he opposed Labour PM Tony Blair”s decision to go to war against Iraq. and campaigned for the extradition of Chilean ex-dictator General Pinochet — not to mention his campaign against the infamous Poll tax. In fact Corbyn has consistently championed many left wing causes for years including animal rights, nuclear disarmament, Palestine, Chechnya, anti-austerity, the Chagos Islands.

The platform that Corbyn is currently campaigning on is in synch with UK public opinion polls that includes an anti austerity policy, anti privatisation of NHS, renationalisation of the railways and utilities, abolishing University tuition fees, a national education service following the NHS model, rent control and higher taxes for the wealthy and protection for people on welfare.

It is interesting to note the current transits to Corbyn’s natal chart which have catapulted him into the limelight. The most obvious and striking transit to activate his chart was the conjunction of Jupiter and retrograde Venus in the first week of August, which was right on his natal Saturn at 29° Leo. That seems propitious. It has also activated another natal planet which is at 29° – Uranus in Gemini. So he has both planets Saturn and Uranus in a perfect sextile. as well making an out-of-sign Yod to Jupiter in Aquarius.

This pattern conjures up some archetypes, the stubborn, old (Saturn) the rebel (Uranus) and the optimist (Jupiter). And this is the pattern that’s been activated by that lucky conjunction in Leo during August. A Yod or finger of God as it is commonly called breaks things open. This one may cause a split in the Labour Party, and it has certainly broken open the debate about the politico-economic model to which successive British governments have been wedded for three decades – an entire Saturn cycle. The results for the ballot for Labour leader will be known on 12 September. Time will tell – who will be the next UK Labour leader.

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