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Show of solidarity: Hundreds march for workers' rights

The Queensland Teachers Union was one of many unions marching in celebration of Labour Day in Mackay city centre.
The Queensland Teachers Union was one of many unions marching in celebration of Labour Day in Mackay city centre. Tony Martin

HUNDREDS of Mackay residents marched in celebration of worker's rights on Labour Day, many emblazoned in stark union colours.

The public holiday - also known as May Day - recognises the eight hour day movement.

It advocated for the benefits of eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest, with the first march occurring in Melbourne on April 21, 1856.

Without the movement's advancement of worker's rights, it's likely Mackay employees would be forced to slave away for hours longer each week.

Standing president of the Queensland Council of Unions in Mackay, Ron Simon, said the march on Monday was a show of solidarity for all workers in all lines of work.

"It's about celebrating the year we have been through and also being progressive and thinking forward to the next year to try and prevent (negative) things happening in the workplace," he said.

 

"It's about saying we are not alone and we can make a difference.

"Compared to last year if it's not as same it's a bit better (attendance-wise), and that's really exciting, given we just had Cyclone Debbie and people tend to go away over the long weekends."

Although the movement's success in improving workers' rights was front and centre yesterday, there's more to be done, according to Mr Simon.

Defending penalty rates was a hot topic at the Mackay march, alongside other workplace issues.

"We are always fighting bullying, rates of pay and this year we are focusing on the big picture that is defending penalty rates," he said.

Mr Simon said there was widespread concern over the Fair Work Commission's recent decision to cut Sunday rates.

"We're looking after people who are just paid over the minimum wage and the weekend rate is a significant amount of money that they can only earn over the weekend to give themselves a decent lifestyle."

The march started at corner of River and Gregory Streets at 9.45am and finished at Goldsmith St, where a Family Fun Day was held. It included food and drink, music and rides.

Topics:  employees fair work commission labour day mackay march may day penalty rates public holiday queensland council of unions rights workers


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