PUBLIC SECTOR workers rallied in Brisbane on September 30 to protest over the state government’s paltry 3.25 per cent wage offer. Over 3000 workers participated in the rally.

It was part of state-wide action called by the Queensland Council of Unions with rallies also being held in Cairns, Gold Coast and Townsville, calling for a wage increase that at least matches inflation, running at over 5 per cent in Queensland.

The Brisbane rally drew hospital staff, cleaners, rail workers and administration officers from across the city and coincided with industrial action at every major hospital in the state.

Ron Monaghan, general secretary, of the Queensland Council of Unions, told the rally that a recent poll showed overwhelming popular support for the public sector wage claims.

One Australian Workers Union delegate, Joanne, spoke passionately about the need to defend the workplace rights that previous generations had fought for, saying “our fathers, our mothers…fought too hard for this, and now [the government] want us to give them up. No way”. Joanne concluded by alluding to need to escalate the growing industrial action campaign urging the assembled workers to “… hit ’em where it hurts”.

The rally was the “first time in twenty years that public sector workers, across all unions and across all departments have come together” over a dispute, announced Alex Scott, from the Queensland Public Sector Union. Labor Premier Anna Bligh’s failure to award a fair wage increase had forced many workers into industrial action, he told the rally.

A resolution rejecting trade-offs and demanding that any increase be backdated to the expiration of the last agreement was carried by the rally.

The 3000 unionists then marched to the government executive building in support of a union delegation meeting with government officials. After another two speakers, the workers stayed outside the building chanting defiantly. Eventually, Australian Services Union state secretary Julie Bignell had to urge the mass of workers to disperse to conclude the protest.

Union leaders met with government ministers after the rally to discuss the pay dispute.

By Carl Taylor

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