A crowd of unionists, estimated by organisers at 15,000, gathered at Belmore Park and marched through city streets to a rally in Cook and Phillip Park on November16, demanding "Stop the War on Workers".
Members of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) walked off building sites for the rally, while waterside workers belonging to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) closed down the Port of Botany for the day.
The workers chanted, "When workers rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back," and other slogans, as they marched through the city.
Rally speakers included Natalie Lang, NSW secretary of the Australian Services Union, who told the crowd: "As a proud feminist and unionist, I say that we are all here to fight to change the rules. The government has set the rules to attack our union rights. But as a fighting union movement, we are united in solidarity, and we will win.”
ACTU secretary Sally McManus told the crowd the fight to change the rules focused on good, steady jobs; fair wages and penalty rates; the repeal of anti-union laws, including abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission; the right to strike; and an end to draconian fines against unions for taking industrial action.
State secretary of the CFMEU Brian Parker said: "Congratulations to every construction worker who turned up here under threat of prosecution, and maritime workers who shut down the port to be here.
"If we're going to win this battle, we have to get bigger, stronger and tougher. Let’s organise to beat this government."