May Day celebrations
The main themes in May Day actions around Australia were calls to stop the GST, support for public education and Medicare, opposition to privatisation and anti-union laws, support for East Timor, reconciliation, shorter working week, and the need to defeat the Coalition Government. In most States there were relatively good attendances and evidence of a renewed working class fighting spirit. FREMANTLE: This was the case in Fremantle where large union contingents with colourful floats carried slogans against government political pressure on unions, and against individual contracts. Teachers demanded better pay and more money for schools. Community organisations were outraged at the WA Court Government grab to sell heritage sites, such as the old military barracks in Fremantle. International issues were more to the fore with slogans and leaflets exposing the New World Order, IMF and World Bank. BRISBANE: Around 4,000 to 5,000 people took to the streets in Brisbane on May 1, the the rain failing to dampen fighting spirits. The change of venue for the rally to Musgrave Park proved very successful. The main theme of the day was defence of Medicare and the public health system. There were also banners with slogans opposed privatisation, national competition policy, the attacks on unions and the GST. The Communist Party contingent distributed around 2,500 "Repeal the GST" Guardian liftouts which were well received. ADELAIDE: May Day celebrations began on the Monday, May 1, with around 220 trade unionists and friends packed into the May Day Dinner. May Day posters calling for the Repeal of the GST adorned the walls. United Trades and Labor Council Secretary Chris White paid tribute to special guest, retiring ACTU President Jennie George, tracing her life from humble beginnings as a migrant child to President of the ACTU. On May 6, some 400 people joined the march through city streets filled with Saturday morning shoppers. Motorists honked their horns in support of anti- GST placards. The CPA again had a stall, selling Guardians, Marxist literature and T-shirts. SYDNEY: A warm and sunny day provided perfect conditions for the around 3,000 people who marched from Town Hall to First Fleet Park. Many marchers wore red head bans in solidarity with the South Korean car workers who are fighting for their rights. As elsewhere, the GST, privatisation, anti-union laws, attacks on teachers, reconciliation, a shorter working week, Telstra and indigenous rights and East Timor were amongst the most prominent themes. The Communist Party held a highly successful social function after the march. The function was addressed by a sacked teacher from Seaforth TAFE College which has been closed by the Carr Labor Government. A 24-hour picket is being maintained at the College as the teachers and community fight to have it reopened. MELBOURNE: Around 5,000 people marched on May 7. The main themes included privatisation, the Workplace Relations Act, Aboriginal land rights, the demand for a bill of rights, the right to free public education and public health services. There was also a considerable focus on specific issues relating to Victoria, such as the demand to reform WorkCover and common law rights for injured workers, the restoration of public utilities, and a call for May 1 to be gazetted as a public holiday. Monica Morgan from the Yorta Yorta nation spoke on the Howard/Herron attack on the Stolen Generations, mandatory sentencing, black deaths in custody, the mortality rate of Indigenous Australians, land rights and self- determination.