Chants of “Change the Rules” echoed throughout Queensland over the Labour Day weekend as union and community members joined hundreds of thousands of other Australians in a national campaign for better wages, secure jobs, enforceable workplace rights and making sure working people come before big business.
The Brisbane march on Monday attracted an estimated 40,000 people, and up to 50,000 were involved in activities across the state.
Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said the massive turnout across the state showed the support of Queensland communities for unions and the movement for change.
“This weekend’s record numbers shows people are sick of the top one per cent of the population owning more than the bottom 70 per cent of the population, and wage growth being at record lows,” she said.
“People across Queensland are ready to take action to change the rules and win more secure jobs and fair pay rises,” she said.
“They know big business has too much power, and today’s march shows that working people joining together are serious about changing the rules,” she said.
The QCU, accompanied by ACTU Secretary Sally McManus, were at the front of the 2.3km march, which started in Brisbane city and finished with a family fun day and speeches at the Exhibition Grounds.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told thousands gathered that the State Government would launch a Parliamentary inquiry into wage theft, in light of Fair Work Ombudsman inaction on an issue that affects thousands of Queensland workers.
Marches, activities and family fun days were also held in other centres around the state including the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Ipswich, the Sunshine Coast, Moranbah, Tieri, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay, Cairns and Thursday Island.
Ms McLennan said all events focused on changing the rules so people have more secure jobs, fair pay and a better quality of life.
“But instead of addressing the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the community, the Turnbull Government is persisting with $65 billion in corporate tax cuts for big businesses and the banks,” she said.
Queensland’s 127th year of observance of Labour Day again celebrated achievements of the union movement for wider society, such as stronger health and safety legislation (including industrial manslaughter laws), compulsory superannuation, parental leave, decent work conditions, mandatory licensing of labour hire operators, paid domestic violence leave, and many other benefits for the community.
The Maritime Union of Australia were the lead union for this year’s march, marking 20 years since the Patrick dispute.
The Plumbers Union was awarded best contingent at this year’s Brisbane march.