Anti-privatisation protest at Brisbane May Day rally

Anti-privatisation contingent at the May Day rally in Brisbane. (Photo: Julia Hocken.)

The biggest Labour Day march in Australia took place in Brisbane on May 5, as thousands of unionists marched through the city in celebration.

More than 30,000 took to the streets across the state over the past weekend, expressing their anger towards the Campbell Newman government.

Workers from a wide range of trade unions proudly participated, with large contingents from the Builders’ Labourers Federation and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union.

They carried the chant “Hands off Bob”, in support of victimised unionist and strike organiser Bob Carnegie, who is being persecuted for standing up against construction company AbiGroup and the Liberal-National Party (LNP) government.

Another notable contingent was that of the Australian Services Union, some of whose members carried a large banner against racism and in support of refugees’ rights.

Many left-wing community groups were also involved in the march, from equal marriage campaigners, to Latin America solidarity activists, to those opposing uranium mining in Queensland and members of the Indigenous community.

A new addition to the rally this year was the organisation of a united “anti-privatisation contingent” which involved the largest number of people in the community section of the rally outside of the Labor Party.

Members of Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance marched alongside each other in this joint contingent. It was the loudest and most vibrant contingent of the march, calling for a real fightback against the devastating attacks on social services and the public service by the LNP.

Since the LNP won the state election early last year, over 14,000 public sector jobs have been cut and millions of dollars stripped from non-governmental organisations, denying Queenslanders of many essential services.

More recently, the government has announced a brutal program of asset sell-offs and privatisations including public hospitals, ports and railways — continuing in the footsteps of the Bligh Labor government it defeated last year.

The fightback contingent acted as a loud, visible and vibrant point of attraction for those wanting to take the fight up to Newman and the LNP. On the march one of the most popular chants was “privatisation — no way! Make the mines and bosses pay!”

The joint contingent was part of a national initiative of Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative and similar joint “fightback” contingents were held at May Day rallies in all major cities around the country.

It was a great step forward in the process of unity that both organisations are undertaking.

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