SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Who's the Monkey? Tunnel Picket Tuesday

Encaged

It occurred to me this morning, that preoccupied as I am with the picketers and the police, I have given little thought to a crucial element at the centre of this drama - the drillers. We picketers have suffered so many insults over recent months that I want to make it clear that comparing the drillers to monkeys is not meant as an insult.
When I was a child, the Melbourne Zoo - 'The Monkeys' as it was called back then - was a very different place. The monkeys were housed in tiny, concrete cages, where conditions were shocking. Observing the drillers today that image sprang to mind.


Just like the monkeys, the drillers too are stuck in a small, crowded, exposed space, whatever the weather. And on occasion it has been around 40 degrees. Their working conditions are appalling, surely a Health and Safety hazard. There are no toilets on site. They get no break from the workplace; once they have crossed the picket line in the morning darkness, they are encaged for the rest of the day. They are constantly open to observation and occasional taunting by the curious. Requiring a bodyguard to keep working, they live with the ongoing stress of drilling in a war zone.
Who would want their job?


Today our spirits were buoyant. The poll published yesterday, in the Herald Sun of all places, identifying that a mere 15% of Victorians favour the East-West Link over other transport options fuelled our guarded optimism. The Age also featured a poll the previous day that had the approval rating for the project running at only 24%. These low figures might be one explanation for the increased number of toots this morning and the increased friendliness and even murmurs of dissent among police.

Having a chat

The picketers decided to disperse early, and take a well-earned rest.
Wandering home through the shimmering light of the Edinburgh Gardens, I concluded that the main contender for monkey status is Premier Napthine himself. He is practised at beating his chest and trumpeting his supremacy. He counters challenges with aggression. But perhaps even he is beginning to realise that, especially if he can find a way to save face, the time has come to limp off into the jungle.

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