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Issue #1547      16 May 2012

May Day 2012


This year’s May Day march had the theme, “Working for secure jobs, and a better future.”

The 4,000 unionists and their supporters who marched through the Fremantle Central Business District were orderly though colourful and friendly. There were the usual large numbers of militant workers at the front of the parade from those unions who marched under the Union Solidarity banner: the Maritime Union of Australia, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

Maritime Union of Australia State Secretary Chris Cain addressed the march on route.

The rear of the march was noisy with the Working Voices Choir and the more active and radical elements of the social and political groups in Western Australia such as the Occupy Movement, Refugee Rights Action Network and the Socialist Alliance.

Upon the return of the marchers to the Fremantle Esplanade there was a speech from incoming ACTU national secretary Dave Oliver about unions needing to be vigilant in the defence of penalty rates and other conditions against employers keen to maintain or increase their profit margins and return on investments to shareholders. Following the speech, Unions WA secretary Simone McGurk announced the order of entertainment for the afternoon for adults and children and that MUA’s Chris Cain would address his members further in the Solidarity tent.

The music played on and union solidarity, activism and militancy adjourned to the Solidarity tent.


Hundreds of unionists and workers rallied through the streets of Melbourne to mark international workers’ day. The procession, led by a team of bagpipe players, wound its way through the main streets of the city centre before concluding at Trades Hall.

The May Day march, now in its 118th year, is when workers’ wins, struggles and efforts to achieve better deals for workers are highlighted.

Melbourne May Day committee president John Speight said the traditional day was an opportunity to pay tribute to the pioneers who played a part in improving working conditions.

“This state was the first state and first country that got the shorter hours in 1856,” Mr Speight said.

“This is part of a celebration of those victories and also bringing people together for the fights coming on.”

The main theme of this year’s march was on workers’ right to strike.


Numbers were up at the May Day Rally in Adelaide on Saturday. The theme was “Workers’ rights are human rights” and was taken up by CPA State Secretary Bob Briton who spoke about his recent experiences in Colombia (see centre pages) and Western Saharan union activist, Malak Amidane. A very musical and vocal crowd marched from Victoria Square to the Torrens Parade Ground.

The May Day dinner drew record numbers to hear retired High Court Judge Michael Kirby. Long time East Timor and trade union activist Andy Alcock was the recipient of this year’s Spanner Award for services to the spirit of May Day. Arthur Mortimer’s name was added to the Workers’ Memorial in Port Adelaide at a well-attended ceremony on Sunday.


Union members from across the state gathered for the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane city.

The Queensland Council of Unions said about 20,000 people marched in the parade from the city to the RNA showgrounds at Bowen Hill.

Labour Day events were well attended across the state.


The CPA's stall at the May Day celebration in Sydney.


Next article – Public health group slams Newcastle coal loader proposal

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