By Chris Perkins
WOLLONGONG — Throughout the Illawarra region, an estimated 50,000 workers took part in protests against the Greiner government's Industrial Relations Bill on September 17. Participants included public sector, health and welfare workers, miners, steelworkers and fire brigades.
A mass meeting, held the same day at the Wollongong showgrounds and organised by the South Coast Labour Council, was attended by 4000 workers.
A comprehensive report by Steve Quinn from the metalworkers' union detailed the attacks on workers' rights entailed in the legislation. Bob Graham from the United Mineworkers Union added some pertinent comments, placing the attacks in the context of the capitalist economic crisis and the increasing willingness of big business to go on the offensive against workers' organisations and job conditions.
A delegates' recommendation was passed unanimously condemning the bill and supporting a continuing campaign against the NSW Liberal-National government.
Following the meeting, a large number of those present travelled to Sydney via rail and Labour Council-supplied buses to join the rally held outside the state parliament.