Community anger at a proposal to cut the minimum wage from $16 to $12 an hour has fuelled large Labour Day turnouts across Queensland on May 4 and 5.
About 30,000 marchers from dozens of unions packed Brisbane streets, joining thousands of others in activities in Queensland cities and towns.
Queensland Council of Unions President John Battams said this week’s federal Commission of Audit recommendation to cut the minimum wage by 25% was a disgraceful attack on working people.
“The federal Coalition should be ashamed of how it’s letting the big end of town run Australia, with its plans to cut wages and privatise vital community services,” he told the crowd after the march to the Brisbane RNA Showgrounds.
“We don’t want a poverty level minimum wage and we don’t want people having to pay extraordinary costs for their healthcare,” he said.
He said the record turnout at Brisbane’s march reflected increasing concern among unions and community groups about the divisive and regressive policies and actions of the state LNP government and federal Coalition government.
Marches at the Gold Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba on Saturday drew record numbers. Marches and activities were held on May 4 in Bundaberg, Maryborough, Barcaldine, Cairns, Emu Park, Mackay, Moranbah, Rockhampton and Townsville.
Anger was also directed at the Newman government’s agenda to cut workplace health and safety laws.
“The Newman LNP government is arrogantly forging ahead with an ideological agenda and it refuses to stop and ask for directions from Queenslanders,” Battams said.
Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk addressed the Labour Day crowd.
She pledged to restore common law access for injured workers, removed by the LNP government, if Labor returns to government next election. She also vowed to return the Labour Day public holiday to its rightful place in May.
This was the 123rd year of observance of Labour Day, and it again recognised achievements of the union movement for wider society, including health and safety laws, compulsory superannuation, paid maternity leave, fair wages and working conditions, and many other benefits for the community.
This year the Queensland Teachers’ Union led the Brisbane march to mark its 125th year of working for members and education.