“Rights on Site”
A meeting of shop stewards earlier this month called for mass rally of building and construction workers on this day, coinciding with international observance of Workers’ Memorial Day. The weather was wretched, and employers threatened reprisals, but the turnout was tremendous – between ten and fifteen thousand in Melbourne, and thousands more around the country. Apart from paying respect to the memory of workers who had lost their lives on the job the focus of the rally was opposition to the extreme anti-union laws introduced by the previous government particularly aimed at the building industry and taking the form of the hated ABCC. Speakers condemned the attacks on worker’s rights and civil liberties, stressing the impact on safety in the workplace. In the background was the current dispute at the West Gate Bridge, where workers were sacked for refusing to put up with unsafe conditions.
There is a report on the website of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, by Brian Boyd, who was MC on the day; at the end of the march, when workers massed outside the headquarters of the Master Builders’ Association, Brian Boyd read out a resolution from the shop stewards’ meeting and invited the rally to endorse it. Which was done unanimously:
“This meeting of shop stewards/delegates condemns the use of the coercive powers by the ABCC.
“We call on all Union officials and construction workers to refuse to participate in such interrogations.
“In event of any person being imprisoned or otherwise penalised for refusing to co-operate with the ABCC we pledge our full support and call for a national industrial response from the construction unions, the ACTU and all affiliates”.
Correction – in this video, the name of the CFMEU member who spoke at the end of the march is incorrectly captioned as “Tony”. It should be “Toby”. The mistake was caused by mishearing; I trust he will accept my apologies.
There are extracts from some of the speeches and footage from the march in the YouTube video above; here are some stills taken at the same time: