Labour Day celebrated on the Gold Coast

May 2, 2023
May Day Gold Coast 2023
Labour Day march on the Gold Coast. Photos: Susan Price

Hundreds of unionists and their families attended the Labour Day march on the Gold Coast on April 30.

Strong contingents of Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union members and Electrical Trades Union members were joined by contingents of Queensland Nurses and Midwives Nurses union members, United Workers Union (UWU) members, Queensland Teachers Union and Independent Education Union members, Transport Workers Union (TWU) members, plumbers, communication, retail and other union contingents.

Green Left spoke to Jared Abbott, TWU Director of Organising, about the struggles.

He said the TWU is trying to get councils to adopt social procurement practices in the waste industry to ensure they are “looking after the community, the planet but also the workers who perform the duties”.

The union is also campaigning for a “Yes” vote on the Voice to Parliament referendum.

Abbott said all public transport on the Gold Coast is run by public-private partnerships “so the pubic pays for it and the private companies profit from it”. 

The union has been campaigning for investment in public transport “as a vital part of society”. He said TWU members “have been very active … protesting and taking strike action”. “It means bus driver and passenger safety, investment in new ideas, and investment in wages to keep people in the industry.”

The TWU is also pushing for industry reform which, Abbott explained, includes setting up a division within the Fair Work Commission to “set fair wages and conditions for all transport operators, whether they are owner-drivers, gig-delivery employees, holding supply chain clients at the top of the supply chain accountable and making sure big companies like Coles and Woolworths are responsible for their supply chains”.

Abbott said ride-share drivers were a “massive thing” on the Gold Coast. There is a huge rise in the number of delivery drivers on bikes and in small vehicles, including vans, where health and safety, as well as terms and conditions, are concerning the union.

“A lot of it comes down to wages and conditions because that’s what drives unsafe behaviour,” Abbott said. “If you have to do a 15-hour day to be able to earn enough to put a roof over your head, that’s directly linked with wages and conditions.”

GL also spoke with Kristin from the UWU, who said that access to accommodation and housing was a big problem for the teacher aides and school cleaners she works with.

“It is a massive issue for our members, because the cost of living is so high and our wages are not anywhere near where they need to be. A lot of the time our cleaners, or our teachers’ aides, are working two to three jobs to afford to live and to put a roof over their heads.”

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.