Public sector workers across Queensland demonstrated in large numbers on September 30. Public servants are seeking a minimum 5.1% annual pay rise, simply to keep pace with inflation.
The Queensland Labor government has not budged from its offer of 3.25% a year for three years, which represents a pay cut in real terms.
Rallies were held in Toowoomba, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and Brisbane. Fifteen unions have joined forces for the first time in 20 years on a state issue. Protesters included administration staff, health workers, firefighters, road and construction crews, cleaners, teachers and paramedics.
The lunchtime rally in Brisbane attracted 3000 workers. They assembled at Queens Park and marched to the Executive Building in George Street, chanting "Workers united will never be defeated". At the Executive Building, the crowd chanted "Shame, Anna, shame!", targeting Queensland Premier Anna Bligh.
A hospital staffer brandished a placard that read, "With friends like Anna, who needs enemas?". Another read, "Unelected premier will remain unelected: Bye Bligh", highlighting the fact that Bligh had been appointed premier after the resignation of the previous premier, Peter Beattie.
A health administration worker addressed the crowd: "I am the first point of contact the public has when they need medical attention, but I am the last priority for Queensland Health."
Queensland Public Sector Union general secretary Alex Scott vowed to damage the Labor Party's election chances if the pay claim was not resolved fairly. The rally was also addressed by the state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Andrew Dettmer.
A Courier Mail investigation has revealed that Queensland Health has appealed for church "volunteers" to fill staff shortfalls due to the industrial action being taken. Church members were being asked to act as strikebreakers. The QPSU's Alex Scott said that Queensland Health had done this because it had failed to get its own staff to "volunteer".
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has served notice on the Department of Main Roads that its members will call stoppages "of an indefinite nature", beginning on October 9.