Car cavalcade demands: ‘Leave no workers behind’

A car convoy demands living wages for all workers during the COVID-19 crisis, in Sydney on April 9. Photo: May 1 Movement/Facebook

More than 60 vehicles joined a car convoy on April 9 to demand the federal government give all workers a living wage as part of its COVID-19 stimulus package. The action was organised by the Maritime Union of Australia, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Construction and General Division, the United Workers Union and the May 1 Movement. 

It was also supported by the National Tertiary Education Union NSW branch and the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union.

The #NoWorkerLeftBehind car convoy started in Chatswood and travelled across Sydney Harbour Bridge to New South Wales parliament.

Cars were emblazoned with placards supporting the rights of workers and visa holders. They circled parliament several times, blowing horns and flashing their headlights.

“The COVID-19 crisis is escalating. The impact on our livelihoods could be as severe as the impact on our health,” the groups said in a statement.

“The federal government’s emergency support payments, while welcome, are designed first and foremost to protect the rich. We are facing the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.”

Up to 3 million people do not qualify for any emergency relief payments or healthcare including: casual workers employed for less than 12 months, the informal sector and migrant workers in Australia who cannot go home.

The protesters criticised the government for “bailing out massive corporations” that avoid paying tax, while they sack workers in the coronavirus downturn.

The groups demanded an income guarantee for every worker; nationalisation of essential services, rather than bail out; a visa amnesty for all migrant workers; and for Medicare to be extended to cover everyone.

Cars were adorned with free the refugees signs and posters demanding a rent freeze.

Community radio 2SER broadcast a live feed of the protest.

Maritime Union Australia Sydney branch organiser Shane Reside told the convoy that since the union had “received assurances” from the NRMA that it is giving casual and permanent workers more hours of work and had offered more backpay and job security, “we won’t be protesting outside their office today”.

In the middle of the night on March 25, NRMA had sent emails to casual maritime workers under their employ that they had been sacked, effective immediately.