Unions throw support behind Occupy Melbourne protest
The Occupy Wall Street movement is an ongoing series of protests that began in New York City in September this year and has now spread internationally. Some commentators compare the occupy movement to the Arab Spring movement — particularly the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo that launched the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Unions back Occupy Sydney
On September 17, people from all over the US and elsewhere in the world came to protest the blatant injustices perpetuated by the 1% (the economic and political elite) whose actions affect all of us — the 99%.
The movement aims to protest against the economic and social inequality, corporate greed and the influence of corporations and lobbyists on government. By October 9, similar demonstrations had been held or were ongoing in more than 70 US cities, said the British Guardian.
National Union of Workers activist Jon Clarke is a member of the community working group for Occupy Melbourne, which begins in City Square on October 15. He told Green Left Weekly it was important that the occupy movement wins the support of the trade unions.
“In my experience in the UK, in movements of this nature, the trade unions failed to get
involved — and this definitely hamstrung the movements. I believe it is essential to have the support of as many trade unions as possible. Perhaps our most primary goal has been to get [the trade unions] more involved.”
Some very high-profile unions have rallied behind the movement already and support
continues to grow.
The National Union of Workers (NUW) Victoria branch officially endorsed the movement on October 13. It said it supports and endorses the movement and will have a presence at the Occupy Melbourne demonstration.
The secretary of the Communications Workers Union Victoria, Len Cooper, sent a letter to the Occupy Melbourne community outreach working group on October 12, endorsing their “real call for democracy” and advocating his union’s support.
The fast food and retail workers union, Unite, have also endorsed the Occupy Melbourne event. The organisers of the Rise Festival at Federation Square, which also begins on October 15, have said they support the protest too.
Other unions are in discussion about the movement but have not officially supported it yet. The United Voice (formerly the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union) Victorian branch has tweeted about the movement, as has Darin Sullivan, the state president of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has posted articles about the occupy movement on its website and is reportedly discussing it internally, although no official stance has been announced yet. The Victorian Trades Hall Council is talking about it; as is the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union.
Occupy Melbourne’s Nick Carson told GLW that other unions are waiting to gather more information about the protest before committing their support.
“From their perspective they probably don’t want to commit themselves to being involved with some movement that at a later stage could be negative for them in some way,” he said.
“The movement is shaping up to be massive with 4000 confirmed attendees on Facebook and around 3000 fans on the Facebook page.”