Bust the Budget II – 12 June 2014.

Bust the Budget banner leads march

The surge of protest that followed the May budget is far from subsiding, and it seems our plan to retire may be on hold for a while longer – which would no doubt gladden Tony Abbott in the unlikely event of his ever getting to know of it. This time it was the unions that took to the streets in Melbourne – construction workers, teachers, nurses, plumbers, firefighters, ambos, postal workers, public servants, students and individuals – and in numbers hardly less than the general rally in May. (Various media reports – see links below – quote a figure from Trades Hall of twenty thousand.) At both the assembly point outside Trades Hall, and again at the end of the march, outside Parliament House, it was next to impossible to get close enough to hear the speakers, and there will be no attempt here to report what was said (again, see reports linked to below). The photos here should be pretty much self-explanatory and only a few are captioned. Some video is in preparation and will be posted shortly.*

Some media reports that have appeared so far:

The Age

The Herald Sun

Channel Seven news




International Women’s Day 2011 in Melbourne – 8 March (and Jenny Macklin picket)

Main banner - 'Pay up Now!'

Pay Justice Action, ‘a grassroots initiative of the Freedom Socialist Party‘ organised a rally and march to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. At about the same time, Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, was due to address an IWD cocktail party at the Victorian Trades Hall …

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective organised a snap picket of the Trades Hall event, taking the view that ‘the hypocrisy of the Minister of Indigenous Affairs speaking at this event, whilst administering a program that is continuing the oppression of Aboriginal women, is not something we can let go without criticism…and action!’, and some participants in the rally and march later joined them. A police detail ensured protesters were not able to enter the building, but they made their presence heard, and there was a confrontation when the Minister arrived. See further below.

MC at the rally was Alison Thorne, Public Sector unionist and member of the FSP, who began by acknowledging the First Peoples of Australia and especially the ‘long line of women Aboriginal leaders.’ Having outlined the history of the Day she handed the microphone to Debbie Brennan, also of the FSP and an ASU delegate, who took up the theme of equal pay for women, and its implications – the bottom would fall out of the profit system if big business had to pay for women’s at present unpaid work.

Alison Thorne speaking

Alison Thorne

Debbie Brennan speaking

Debbie Brennan

Jasmine Ali speaking

Jasmine Ali

Jasmine Ali of the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective spoke next, attacking the Basics Card (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5nrW8sA6_Q) and particularly discrimination against Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory faced by the Intervention; she also read from an open letter sent to the Prime Minister from Indigenous women at the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010:

Jasmine reading the letter

Reading the letter

Sally Goldner speaking

Sally Goldner

Last speaker before the march set off was Sally Goldner (see http://www.3cr.org.au/outofthepan), focussing on discrimination faced by transgender people, especially in the context of Centrelink, where absence of federal anti-discrimination legislation meant that outcomes were in effect a lottery dependent on the personal attitudes of staff.

More at the rally:

"Let the ruling classes tremble ..." banner at one of the stalls

At one of the stalls

Placards demanding equality for women in Iran

An Iranian contingent

Placard - Community sector wages stink!

One of many placards

The march set off down Swanston Street on its way to Parliament House, where there were to be more speakers…
Main banner at head of march

Behind the sound truck

In the meantime, at Trades Hall members and supporters of MAIC had been picketing the entrance and handing leaflets to people arriving for the cocktail party. As already mentioned, police were on hand to prevent any unauthorised entry, and protesters were forced to resort to chanting beneath the windows of the bar, but ironically after a while the party-goers were themselves forced out of the building by a fire alarm, and were then exposed directly to the protest. (It appears there was no actual fire, but a damaged sprinkler in the bookshop triggered the alarm, as well as causing considerable flooding in the basement.) Jenny Macklin herself had not arrived at this point, but was confronted when she did. Regrettably,there was no-one on hand with a camera at this stage.*

Picket at the entrance to Trades Hall

Copy of alcohol and pornography ban notice from NT

Closeup of one of the notices posted around the entrance

Handing leaflets to people arriving

Protesters shouting up to the open windows

Confronting the party-goers evacuated from the building

*A comment posted to Melbourne Indymedia describes what happened later, with some pointed observations on ‘the sorry state of the Australian union movement’ …

International Workers’ Memorial Day – 28 April

At Trades Hall - the march forming up

At Trades Hall - the march forming up

“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”.

See also the Rights on Site website and the websites of the CFMEU, the MUA; there was also a report in The Australian.

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:

Father Peter Norden of Melbourne University Law School led a minute's silence

Father Peter Norden of Melbourne University Law School led a minute's silence

Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division

Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division

Dean Mighell, Victorian State Secretary of the ETU

Dean Mighell, Victorian State Secretary of the ETU

Anti-ABCC placard

Anti-ABCC placard

Angry workers on the march

Angry workers on the march

Bill Oliver, Victorian Secretary of CFMEU Construction Division, declares the start of the industrial campaign

Bill Oliver, Victorian Secretary of CFMEU Construction Division, declares the start of the industrial campaign

Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA

Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary of the MUA

Toby, OHS rep at the West Gate Bridge - sacked

Toby, OHS rep at the West Gate Bridge - sacked

Workers defiant at the MBA

Workers defiant at the MBA