More than 2000 people are expected to rally in Cairns on November 30 against Work Choices, according to the Cairns Provincial Council of the Queensland Council of Unions. This would be the largest such demonstration yet in far-north Queensland.
Stuey Traill, the council's president, told Green Left Weekly, "There's increased interest in the campaign. The local union movement and community have been getting active and the impact of the laws has been growing."
Traill said there is increasing cooperation between unions in the campaign, and that more unions are now affiliated to the CCU than ever before. In the past, he explained, the Cairns unions worked alone but now "the unions are not just in fights by themselves".
The November 30 rally is an "important day in the campaign, in the lead-up to the next federal election", Traill said. Given the September 29 High Court decision on Work Choices in favour of the federal government, he argued that the protest "is more important than ever" because "the only avenue to oppose and change these laws is at the ballot box next year". Organisers hope many of those who come will join the list of those willing to campaign in the year ahead.
"What we're doing here is grassroots campaigning. We're rallying outside the offices of government MPs ... making them accountable", Traill explained.
The rally will march to the office of federal Liberal MP Warren Entsch. Two-thirds of workers in Entsch's electorate of Leichhardt are on low wages and many have casual employment.
"We've had several 'Where's Warren' rallies to attempt to get him to publicly debate the laws. To date, despite all attempts, he denies even being invited and refuses to debate the laws. For a federal member to refuse to publicly debate laws he votes for is a disgrace." Traill told GLW that unionists were more determined than ever to "get rid of the Howard government and get fair and balanced laws".