Showing the way against rail fare hikes

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Seven Socialist Alliance members descended on Wollongong train station from 6.15am on the morning of November 10 to publicise Saturday's "No rail fare hike; no service or job cuts" rally. We wanted a large team because we expected trouble with CityRail guards and police. Last Saturday two comrades were "warned" for putting up posters and told they would be charged next time — obviously Wollongong Police are responding to Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione's appeal to crackdown on bill posters (because they make people feel "unsafe"!).

However, the station assistants obviously made a conscious decision to not kick us off which is the first time ever. After an hour of leafleting, one worker came out and told us his boss had seen us on the security camera and asked if one of us could move over the road. We complied, leaving six comrades to hand out, and didn't get hassled any more. Makes sense, I guess, given we are organising a rally in defense of their jobs. Eerily a big "Local Area Command" police van turned up and parked in front of the station. An officer hung around for about an hour and then left — what's all that about.

We got a really good response from commuters and rail workers, with pages of petitions signed, nearly 1000 leaflets handed out and plenty of good discussions. A rail union member we work with in Wollongong Against Corruption took a stack of leaflets and spoke to his union meeting about the event. The President of the South Coast Labour Council took a stack to hand out on her way to Sydney too. We plan to hit the station again on Wednesday, but with the blitz issue of Green Left Weekly in hand too. This campaign is definitely striking a chord with people, for economic but also environmental reasons. We've got David Campbell, Transport Minister, worried. He's responded to us three times in the media so far, including an appeal to not protest outside his office, but to target the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART)!

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