Occupy Sydney activists organised a protest outside the Qantas shareholders conference on October 28 at the University of New South Wales in support of Qantas workers struggling for decent wages and job security.
Peter Somerville, the general manager of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, which is embroiled in a battle with Qantas management over job outsourcing and a new enterprise agreement, had addressed Occupy Sydney’s rally in Martin Place on October 22.
Somerville told the crowd: “Thanks very much for the invitation and we’re only too happy to be here and let you know what’s happening from our point of view and also to be part of Occupy Sydney and lend our support to what you are doing.”
The night before, Occupy Sydney adopted a statement of solidarity with Qantas employees.
The statement said: “Occupy Sydney declares its support for the courageous struggle of Qantas and Jetstar workers against their greedy bosses.
“Ours is a movement of the 99% of humanity against the obscene wealth and power of the 1% of corporate profiteers.
“Qantas workers, many struggling in low-waged, casual positions, are asking for a 5% per year pay rise that will barely keep up with the spiralling cost of living.
“But CEO Alan Joyce is receiving a 71 % pay increase — taking his total salary package to $5 million per year.
“We support the demands of Qantas unions. We welcome all workers and representatives of the struggle to join us in Martin Place.”
Somerville told the crowd: “We’ve been in the middle of an industrial dispute since last year. It’s a year this has been going on and we’ve been trying to negotiate our way though this. But Qantas is interested in conflict, not resolution. That’s our problem …
“In these circumstances, we know we have to fight. We know it’s going to be a hard fight, but we also know it’s a fight that we have to win. These are good Australian jobs. This is a company that is focused on short-term bonuses to its managers and not the welfare of its workforce.”
Video: Occupy Sydney Day 8 - Peter Somerville. indymediakam.
Video: Occupy Sydney protesters support Qantas workers. Peter Boyle.