SYDNEY — Hundreds of thousands of workers rallied in cities and towns across Australia Oct. 23-24 to defend union rights and back demands for higher wages. The slogan for the nationwide rallies organized by the Australian Council of Trade Unions was “Change the Rules!” ACTU is campaigning to change the federal government’s workplace laws, which are used to lock workers into insecure work, prevent them from winning higher pay, force workers to work longer hours for less and under worsening conditions.
The biggest protest was in Melbourne, where over 150,000 workers brought the city center to a stop. In Sydney, more than 7,000 marched, led off by construction workers, members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. These striking crane drivers who had been on the picket line for a week took the stage at the end of the rally. They are fighting for their first wage increase in over five years.
“Enough is enough,” Paul Magyar, a mobile crane operator driver at Boom Logistics in Singleton, told the crowd. “We’re fighting for our rights, for our children, for our families.”