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Issue #1643      June 18, 2014

Thousands rally against budget

The Bust the Budget Rally in Melbourne on Thursday June 12 sent a loud and clear message to PM Tony Abbott that his anti-people, pro-big business budget is inhumane and must be scrapped.

Photo: Victorian Trades Hall Council

Workers and their unions, community groups, health workers and students rallied outside the Victorian Trades Hall Council before heading off in a “Bust the Budget” march through the city to Parliament House.

The march through the city was the biggest this year, with an estimated 40,000 protesters filling Bourke Street between Spring and Swanston Streets.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver said the budget was cruel and an attack on ordinary people.

“Generations of Australians have fought hard to establish working conditions and dignity at work. They have struggled hard to build a better life and a decent society, to educate our children and to care for our sick and to look after our elderly,” Oliver said.

“Why should the people who can least afford it be forced to take the hit?”

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary Michael O’Connor said the federal government was attacking jobs. ”We have never before seen a government try to destroy the jobs of Australians like this government has.

“They are trying to change our commitment to a fair go, our commitment to justice, our democratic right to organise. They think they are going to get away with it. We say they aren’t,” O’Connor said.

If passed the budget would cause pain and suffering, drive millions of Australians into poverty, boost the ranks of the unemployed and homeless and drive the economy into recession. The budget must be defeated and replaced by a progressive program of spending and revenue raising that protects our planet and improves the life of the people.

The main thrust of the 2014-15 federal budget is the transfer of wealth from working people into the pockets of the rich and big corporations, in particular to the mining and banking/finance sectors.

People are angry and this is a start of a long campaign. Rally organisers pledged to hold further protests.

Delegates meeting

On the same day as the VTHC rally in Melbourne, job delegates’ meetings were held in Sydney and several regional areas of NSW. The Sydney meeting heard reports from Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon, rank and file unionists and a pensioner (retired union member) who spoke about the impact the budget would have if passed.

The main issues raised were the GP co-payment, $80 billion cuts to health and education, the cuts to the age pension and unemployment benefits, increased uni fees, and the increase in the petrol tax.

Lennon expanded his coverage to state issues and the need to defeat the conservatives at both state and federal levels. The meeting passed a resolution condemning the federal budget “for specifically targeting those least able to afford cuts including, those accessing the health system, pensioners, young people seeking employment and training opportunities and the most vulnerable in our community.”

It also condemned other measures being considered by the government and big business – cutting the minimum wage, weekend pay rates and your rights at work.

The meeting was lively, with feelings strong and delegates determined to defeat the budget. Spirits were lifted by a video produced by the union movement’s aid agency APHEDA, bringing solidarity greetings from around the world. “Bust the Budget” messages came from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and New Zealand.

Many delegates were looking to Unions NSW for strong leadership in taking whatever action is necessary to defeat the budget. The focus of the meeting was on defeating the conservative agenda.

The meeting decided to continue the campaign against the budget and federal government’s agenda, including the lobbying of MPs and Senators. A mass rally will be held on Sunday July 6 with the community. Local Union Community Councils will be used to mobilise community support for the trade union campaign.

Next article – Business agenda to sink Australian shipping

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