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Issue #1637      May 7, 2014

May Day Fremantle WA

With a background of the National Audit Commission Report and the looming federal budget it was the perfect time for workers to make a statement about the need to organise and the value of collective action.

The 4,000 people who turned up this year was down on last year; however those who turned up were the most enthusiastic representatives of the working class. The march was lead by the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association with a theatrical theme involving Emperor Colin Barnett being pulled along on his chariot by his “slaves” i.e. public servants.

The CPSU/CSA is locked in negotiations with an intransigent Liberal government for an improvement of their wages and conditions.

The CPSU/CSA contingent was followed by members and supporters from other white collar unions which make up the bulk of the membership of unions in the state.

However, by the sheer weight of numbers, most of the rally was made up of members of the blue collar unions including the CFMEU, AMWU, MUA and ETU whose members on the day are easily identified by their black shirts with their SOLIDARITY logo.

At The Esplanade in Fremantle, Unions WA secretary, Meredith Hammat, spoke of the attacks on workers, their unions and communities by conservative governments lead by federal Liberal leader Anthony Abbott and locally under Premier Colin Barnett.

Hammat emphasised that action by community and workplace groups was not enough and that unions and their members also needed to take political action in support of their demands for a fair go and a decent life.

The main speaker, assistant secretary of the ACTU, Tim Lyons, spoke on the ethical and historical messages of May Day, of working people coming together as a collective to defend and promoting the need for a decent life and on how the Commission of Audit initiated by the Abbott government to promote the interests of capital, sought to trample on the hard fought rights and conditions of workers.

Lyons also spoke of the Commission of Audit’s recommendation to cut the Minimum Wage every year for ten years to reduce it by $136 from $622 to $486, making it one of the lowest amongst the developed countries.

Lyons said the solution was for workers to come together as a collective to bring about a better society for all.

Members of the Communist Party of Australia were present at May Day, manning a stall and selling Guardians and merchandise as well speaking with a number of people about the history and purpose of the Party.

Next article – May Day in Cuba

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