Hundreds of public servants rallied outside Queensland's parliament on October 30 as part of a week-long industrial campaign. The rally was organised by Together Union (a branch of the Australian Services Union), also known as the "Purple Army".
The workers are facing enterprise bargaining negotiations in which the state government is refusing to offer any pay rise. The government argues that since workers have had a wage rise due to a rise in the award, they do not need to offer any rise in the enterprise agreement. The agreement will last for the next three years.
Other public sector workers have had pay rises.
Some of the workers affected are among the lowest-paid public servants in the state.
Several speakers, who have been involved in negotiations, said this is the first time in memory that it has not been possible to negotiate an agreement they could recommend to members.
The rally chairperson said that twelve months ago she had been campaigning for the re-election of the Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor government. "The government needs to respect the public servants who helped get them elected," she said.
One issue is that different sections of the public sector are on different agreements.
One worker told Green Left Weekly that she is $15 000 a year worse off than someone working at the same level in a different government department.
One delegate who works in payroll said he was tired of seeing the different rates of pay for people working at the same level in different parts of the public service.
"We don't get the shits enough," said one speaker, who argued for more industrial action while congratulating the rally on the big turn out.
Hundreds of hands went up when the crowd was asked who had been involved in work bans that week. Many kept their hands up when asked if they had taken industrial action for the first time in their lives.
The union is threatening an escalation of the industrial campaign in November if the government does not dramatically improve their offer at meetings in coming days.
There was a lot of enthusiasm expressed at the rally for continuing the campaign.
"I'm worth a pay rise," one speaker said. "I want one and I'm gonna get it."
"The Purple Army is everywhere," the chairperson said. "And we're not going away!"
[More photos of the rally can be found on Green Left Weekly's Facebook page.]