Queensland ALP deputy premier Paul Lucas and other ALP leaders faced hostile chants and heckling from workers at the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane on May 3.
The main message from the union contingents, numbering 10,000, was opposition to the sale of state assets — including railways, ports, forests and motorways — by the Bligh Labor government. Premier Anna Bligh herself was overseas to promote the sell-off to North American investors.
The May 4 Courier-Mail reported: “Mr Lucas was heckled at the start by the Electrical Trades Union, in the middle by the Maritime Union of Australia and at the end of the march he faced a workers’ collective.
“Mr Lucas was also confronted with chants of 'show me the money' by disgruntled Queensland Health workers. He apologised to them, but admitted the next pay run would not be perfect.”
Health workers have faced huge losses in their pay packets in recent weeks because of the disastrous implementation of a new computerised pay system.
Contingents from the construction unions highlighted the threat to union rights posed by the continuation of legal action against union members and officials on worksites.
Ark Tribe, a South Australian building worker who faces possible jail time for refusing to speak to the Australian Building and Construction Commission.marched with the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and spoke at the Exhibition Showgrounds at the festival that followed.
The ABCC was established by the Howard government and maintained under Rudd
The Australian Services Union contingent focused on its national “Equal Work, Equal Pay” campaign. Teachers chanted their opposition to using the NAPLAN tests to create school league tables.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd marched, but avoided controversy by joining in with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union contingent. He claimed his government was committed to giving all workers a fair go.