Ignoring threats of fines for taking part, thousands of workers, many with their children – it being school holidays – rallied at Trades Hall in Melbourne on Wednesday 26 September, before marching through the CBD to Flinders Street, under the banner “Don’t give Howard another shot! – Protect your Kid’s Future.” Estimates of numbers varied, as always, from the ‘official’ 15,000 to a perhaps rather optimistic 40,000. As an indication of the size – the march down Swanston Street took more than 15 minutes to pass my vantage point.
Not all unions supported the callout, whether from fear of sanctions or anxiety about rocking the ALP boat before the upcoming elections, and once again it was construction and manufacturing workers who demonstrated why they are the Government’s prime target – though they were strongly backed by the health and education sectors, and a contingent on Young Unionists, not to mention Union Solidarity. The ALP itself was invisible, if present, the Greens easily putting them to shame, along with the Socialist Party and the ubiquitous Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance. According to the Government, the whole thing was only a stunt, with Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey saying the march had been ‘orchestrated by the Labor Party’…
Speakers at the start included Brian Boyd, Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Jeff Lawrence, newly appointed Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Father Peter Norden SJ, Associate Director of Jesuit Social Services and Parish Priest of St Ignatius Church in Richmond, with Ann Taylor, President of the VTHC, acting as MC. Both here and after the march there was also a chance to hear from workers – mostly young – who had been victims of the new climate created by the Howard Government’s anti-worker laws, and the whole event was framed by music – the Trades Hall choir and “Union Maid” at the start, Cathie O’Brien at the end.
http://www.vthc.org.au/index.cfm?section=5&category=101 (Young Unionists Network)
There is some rough-cut video footage of this event on EngageMedia: