ASU Equal Pay rally and march – 8 June 2011

Demand Equal Pay in 2011 - banner on wall of Trades Hall
8 June was a National Day of Action, with rallies across Australia demanding pay equity for workers in the community and health sector. The rally in Melbourne was held in wet and wintry conditions, but as one speaker said, these did not dampen workers’ resolve to pursue the pay increases that Fair Work Australia had just announced they were entitled to. Several thousand gathered outside Trades Hall to hear speakers before marching through the CBD to Parliament House to make their voices heard there.
Video of the three stages can be seen on YouTube, including the speech delivered at Trades Hall by veteran campaigner Zelda D’Aprano, who way back in 1969 chained herself to government buildings to reinforce just the same demands for equality which have still not been met.

Other speakers at Trades Hall were Brian Parkinson, Branch Secretary of the ASU, Vikkie Robinson, a Community Services student at Victoria University and Student Member of the ASU, Linda White from the ASU National Office, who presented a number of member who had submitted witness statements to the Tribunal in the recent wage case, as did Mary Bluett of the AEU and Lloyd Williams of HACSU, and finally ASU member Pia Cerveri. (See video below.)


At Parliament House there were more speakers, including Cath Smith and Micaela Cronin, CEO and President respectively of the Victorian Council of Social Services, who presented a statement of support on behalf of VCOSS, ASU delegate Cecilia Judge, and finally Lisa Darmanin, ASU Assistant Secretary (whose speech comes at the end of footage of the march in the video below).


MC for the rally was ASU Lead Organiser Wil Stracke (not Strache as unfortunately misspelled in the video caption).
See coverage in The Age and ABC online, as well as the campaign website.
The VCOSS statement reads as follows:

The Presidents and Treasurers of the Victorian community sector stand alongside the ASU in support of equal pay for community sector workers.

The Presidents and Treasurers of community sector organisations are volunteers of all ages who come from across the community – we are CEO’s, accountants, bureaucrats, business owners, service users. While we are volunteers our employees are not! They should be paid fairly and equitably for the work that they do. Fair Work Australia has recognised that they currently are not.

It is time for Government to stand up for the workers and the organisations that support the most vulnerable in our community. The community sector deliver services on behalf of all levels of Government – it is now time for them to step up and fund us for the actual cost of our services!

So far we’ve heard all the right noises from politicians. In Victoria, Community Services Minister, Mary Wooldridge, committed to funding the outcomes of the case in an interview with VCOSS in the lead up to last year’s election. Likewise, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services, Bill Shorten, committed the Government to funding the outcomes of the pay equity case in an episode of the ABC’s Q&A earlier this year.

It’s time for all politicians to put their money on the table. Community sector workers have waited long enough to be properly valued for their work. We have an opportunity to finally do so. It is an opportunity our nation cannot afford to miss.



Say ‘Yes’ to Action on Climate Change – rally in Melbourne, 5 June 2011

Overview of part of crowd at end of rally

Part of the crowd at the end of the rally

As the photo shows, the lawns of the State Library were jam-packed for this morning’s Climate Action rally, with estimates of ten thousand being quoted in the media (see, for example, The Age), and there were similar rallies in other capital cities around Australia (see ACF online and Say Yes Australia on Facebook). The Melbourne event, organised as were the others by Say Yes Australia, featured as speakers Don Henry of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Peter Marshall of the United Firefighters’ Union, and climate activist Jenna Farrington, with music provided by Blue King Brown, and was certainly a success as a rally, but it was obvious that at least many had come prepared for a march to follow the speeches, and were disappointed when it was announced that no march was planned. Some did indeed take up the MC’s suggestion to march on their own, and no doubt it would have seemed that the elaborate arrangements for the band would have gone for little if no-one had stayed around to listen, but it did look like an opportunity missed…

Peter Marshall speaking
Peter Marshall was the first speaker, dealing with the costs of fires and natural disasters of the last few years as something that had to be taken into account when politicians were weighing up the costs of taking action of climate change, specifically the question of a fair price on carbon. There should be no debate any longer about the need for action, it was clear that something was happening in the climate that was implicated in these events. (See also an opinion piece by Peter Marshall in The Age, 12 Feb 2009.)

Jenna Farrington speaking
He was followed by Jenna Farrington, introduced as ‘a mother and climate activist’, who focussed on the future faced by children: she wanted the best for her children, for the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu to be there for them, they should not have to worry about water security and so on. She saw a sell out to the big polluters; politicians needed to have guts, the battle could still be won, solar, wind and clean energy sources could meet all the country’s needs, and other countries were in fact leaving Australia behind. She wanted to be able to answer ‘yes’ when her children one day asked her if she had done anything to combat climate change, ending with the reminder that ‘we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’

Don Henry speaking
Third and final speaker was Don Henry, Chief Executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who amongst other things quoted from the recent report of the Federal Government’s Climate Commission – The Critical Decade (summary here, the full report available here.) He listed the main things that had to be done now, a price a pollution, given that while pollution was free the polluters would go on polluting, assistance to households and industries to cope with the changes, a start now on building a safe economy, protection of the environment, noting the vast amounts of carbon held by the forests of Tasmania, for example… and ended by leading a chorus of ‘yesses’ to a list of demands. (Don Henry’s speech was quoted at some length in the media reports, such as the Age item already mentioned.)

Blue King Brown played both before and after the speakers, and were enthusiastically received:

Band playing

Band in action

Band in action

Lead singer

Part of crowd listening to band

Another part of the crowd

Amongst the crowd there were those who had themselves come prepared to make music, as these members of Unite:

Members of Unite with instruments

And there was wide range of placards and banners, some of which can be seen in the photos below, in no special order:

People arriving at rally with 'Yes' banner

Young woman with 'Say yes' placard

Stop HRL banner

Anti-coal placards

Milk Sucks - part of vegan contingent

Detail of vegan placard

Placard - How much are your grandchildren worth?

CPSU banner at edge of rally

Placard - No Desalination Plant

Climarte banner

Placard - Carbon footprint: size does matter

Banner of Darebin Climate Action Now

Darebin Greens with banner

Placard - less fuel for a crazy world

Placard - Australia, Don't be a pissant

Placard - Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share

Placard with pro-solar quote from Thomas Edison

Turtles against Climate Change

Closeup of turtle

Swear-in against Swear Laws – Friday 3 June 2011

Not as many attended as the Facebook page had promised, but there were still a good many voices on the steps of Parliament House raised in protest at the legislation before the House designed to make permanent the power of police officers to issue on-the-spot fines of $238.90 for swearing. The Swear-in was organised by Renegade Activists Action Force (RAAF), with Jacob Grech MC. Apart from three pre-arranged speakers – Colleen Hartland MLA of the Greens, Ali Hogg of Socialist Alternative and Equal Love Melbourne, and Sue Bolton of Socialist Alliance – some members of the rally also took the microphone at the end, including a representative of the members of Melbourne Anonymous who were present, and Emily, a teenager voicing disgust at being potentially penalised for simply being one, since virtually everyone she knew regularly swore… Another was Tanya, whose contribution figures on the accompanying YouTube footage.

Media were present in force, whether hoping for police intervention or simply drawn by the novelty of the occasion, but there was no trouble. Reports can be found on The Age website and ABC online. The footage given here is unfortunately not of the best quality, there being very little light except when the TV crews used their spotlights, but hopefully gives the essence of the protest. As Jacob said, it was possible to have some fun with the idea of a swear-in, but the implications of this kind of legislation were serious….

There is to be another protest on 25 June, this time taking the form of a ‘F***walk’ modelled on the recent SlutWalk.