Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rise up.

Warning: this post contains a whole lot of yeast. And then I’ll talk about May Day. The connection: rising up.

After looking at a post by Katie the other day I got a big craving for Mac & Yeast. But it was early in the week and I wanted to use some veggies while they were still fresh. Plus, I didn’t feel like using a zillion pans and a baking dish. This dinner was a delicious compromise. Spiral pasta and steamed broccoli smothered in ‘All American Cheez Sauce’ from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. This sauce was really yummy and creamy, and it contains a carrot so it’s extra healthy. I wanted to eat the whole pan in one go because it was that good, but I actually had enough for two filling meals.

Of course, I only used half of the yeasty sauce on my pasta, so I’ve been coming up with creative ways to use the rest.

On the weekend I made bagels. I love bagels, and when I lived in the US I ate a ridiculous amount of them. My parents used to buy me the bakery bagels that were super big and soft and I would have them for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner. Unfortunately, Australians (or at least North Queenslanders) have no appreciation of a good bagel—there is exactly one pre-packed brand in the shops here, and that one brand is over-priced and under-good. So I have to make my own. I followed the recipe linked by Lori, and did lots of kneading, waiting (for the uprising, of course), shaping, boiling and baking to get 12 medium bagels. To keep them fresh, I stuck them into the freezer after they had cooled.

This morning I took one out for breakfast and spread it with vegemite and some leftover cheez sauce. Baker’s yeast in the bagels, brewer’s yeast in the ‘mite, and nutritional yeast in the sauce—holy yeasty!

Also! Today is May Day!! The international day of worker’s struggle. A lot of riots, demonstrations, and uprisings have happened on this day throughout history, starting with Chicago's Haymarket riot in 1886. To distance Labour Day from this history of radical protest action, the US switched to a September holiday, but there are still May Day marches in major US cities. In Australia, most states have a public holiday on May Day, but QLD and NT have the holiday on 5 May—Monday.

In Townsville, Monday will feature a May Day march which coincides with an indigenous day of action. The issue to focus on in Queensland this year is Stolen Wages. It is a very complex issue, but in a nutshell, here’s the story:

From the late 1800s through the 1970s, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived under various government acts which often moved them onto reserves and forced them to work. They were involuntarily hired out as stockmen, domestic servants, workers on farms and sugar cane plantations, and the equivalent of today’s council workers (building roads, etc). The entire indigenous population was deemed financially irresponsible, so the government ‘kindly’ took their money and deposited it into a trust fund. Indigenous workers had to apply for pocket money or special purchases, many of which were completely denied. The government used some of this money to cover food and housing expenses, but considering the poor living conditions on reserves, there was a fair chunk left over. And since it was in trust, it was gaining interest. After the dissolution of the controlling acts, the Queensland government just kept the money. Some of it was used to fund hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure around the state. We’re talking tens of millions of dollars.

A few years ago Peter Beattie, the then-premiere of Queensland, offered $58 million as reparation payments to workers who had their wages stolen. The reparation payments were not based on how much money one had actually earned during their years and decades of labour. If you were born before a certain date you were paid $4000, and after that date it was $2000. Of 16,000 to 20,000 eligible people, only 10,000 applied—many thought the offer was insulting. Of those 10,000 applicants, one third were ineligible, often because government records were destroyed during a particularly dark period of QLD government. Because there were so few applicants, there was $35 million dollars left in the reparation fund, so the government started a community consultation process to decide what to do with it. I went to the consultation meeting in Townsville, which had the same result as all the others across the state—give the money back! Loosen up the restrictions so people who deserve the money can get it. There was 100% consensus at the Townsville meeting. That’s a pretty strong message.

But, a few weeks ago the new QLD premiere announced that some of the leftover funds would be paid out to original claimaints, but the remaining $20 million-odd would go to a scholarship fund. Aboriginal elders agree that scholarships and education are vital, but they feel that should be funded by the government anyways. They want their freaking money back! There have been several protests and meetings around the state, but the big statements will be made on Monday.

Sorry, that was a really big nutshell… more like a coconut. Anyways, that’s what I’ll be doing on Monday: joining with other people who care and rising up. We’ll be like a tablespoon of yeast. I’m selling stolen wages tee-shirts. If you’re in Australia and you want one, send me an email and we’ll work something out. They’re $20, and the money goes towards the Townsville Indigenous Human Rights Group and funds things like Monday’s rally.

Happy May Day, everyone!


romina said...

Hehe, Mac and Yeast! I love it, I'm going to start caling it that. =)

It really drives me nuts that the United States changed their labour day from the first of May to the first Monday in Sept. It's ridiculous! It's supposed to commemorate an American holiday... I guess it shows you how little politicians care for unions and workers.

Happy May Day!

Vaala said...

Ooo, bagels! Cool. I'd actually never considered making them myself before. Perhaps I should. It's the same story here - bagels are hard to buy and they usually tough as old boots and expensive if you do get them.

I love the t-shirt design...very clever. Hope the rally goes well.

textual bulldog said...

Your Mac and Yeast looks sooooooo awesome! It's still April 30 here in California, but happy May Day anyway! ;)

Alice (in Veganland) said...

Happy May day!
So you like your vegemite a lot, don't you? Is it really that good? Should I try it? twice? ;-)

I hope you sell lots of t-shirts!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Mac and Yeast-- what a cute name... and much more appropriate than "mac and cheese" considering there's no cheese!

Now you have me craving it all over again!

Student Logic said...

It is highly disappointing that the Queensland government is continuing to hold back stolen wages of Indigenous Queenslanders.

How can reconciliation occur when their money is going from one fund into another?