Thousands of disgruntled workers have marched through central Sydney and Melbourne as part of a national protest against Tony Abbott’s industrial budget cuts.
Workers in capital cities across Australia united from a range of unions to promote fairer wages and rights for workers. The unions represented included: the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union; the Australian Nursing and Midwifery and Australian Services Union; and the Community and Public Sector Union.
In Melbourne the protest, organised by the Trades Hall, Started in Carlton and finished up at Federation Square. In Sydney the protesters marched past State Parliament in Macquarie St. Some were dressed in gladiator outfits. Police were present at both protests.
Workers told the Newsroom they were furious over taxed penalty rates, threatened living standards and the lack of funding for health and education. Union members said they are feeling the extreme pressure of the government reforms.
Nurses Tara Nipe and Stephanie Cooper said they feeling the effects of the changes to the penalty rates.
“We’re protesting on the government’s attack on workers and Australian people,” Ms Nipe told the Newsroom. “It starts with the proposed cut to penalty rates; they also want to get rid of unfair dismissal. We already have a workforce that is 40 percent casualised.”
Ms Cooper, also a nurse, told the Newsroom the changes would directly affect her: “I give up Christmas with my family, birthdays and weddings to work on weekends. Shift work has had a big impact on my life and I deserve to be compensated.”
Protesters hope the scale of today’s protest will make the Liberal government reconsider the reforms. – Suzanne Masri, with video presented by Natalija Antic and produced by Isis Oliver
Top photo from James Davis in Melbourne. Photo below by MD Zahin in Sydney.