'We want unions of our choice to represent us'

May 2, 2009

The speech below was made by Darren Vanderkaay at a solidarity picnic on April 26 at Melbourne's Yarraville Gardens. The picnic was hosted by the Western Suburbs Community and Unions Coalition. Darren is one of 39 workers unfairly sacked from the West Gate Bridge strengthening project by construction company John Holland.

For nine weeks now myself and 38 fellow workers have been protesting to get our jobs back from John Holland on the West Gate Bridge project.

We were sacked for standing up for common rights in the workplace. This is no longer about money and conditions, this is about the arrogance of John Holland to not let people have rights in the workplace.

We want unions of our choice to represent us and our conditions on the job. Our unions are there for support. We also have support from each other, support from our fellow workers telling us to keep up the fight, to "stick it up 'em".

We are also getting support from the whole community saying: "Don't let corporate greed rule workers." But most of all, we would not be here without the great support of our families which we appreciate wholeheartedly.

We are not enjoying going home to our families and telling them we still don't have a job. John Holland are trying to employ another workforce to prove that they are able to get people up on the bridge.

I'm sure you can appreciate our frustrations — of their petty actions happening right under our noses. It is a real kick in the teeth.

But I tell you one thing, I and all my brothers who are here today are a lot prouder taking the fight up to Holland the way we are. We will always hold our heads high and we can always stay proud!

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