Monday, 4 May 2015

Solidarity Forever

It's no secret to any of you following the blog that I have more than a bit of pinko in me and sometimes put it out on display. Last weekend saw Labour Day marches across the country and the world, reminding everyone that the work entitlements we take for granted were actually hard fought for and won by workers, and we won't hesitate to fight for them again if and when necessary. 

It's probably no secret either that I'm studying industrial relations, which goes hand in glove with my obvious interest in social justice and union and political connections. This study has opened up a whole new world for me, especially delving into the theoretical approaches behind the ongoing debate between radicals and conservatives and all the iterations of those in between.

The Brashness and I took part in Saturday's march here on the Gold Coast in Queensland so I've illustrated this blog with a selection of images from the morning setup, the march as it worked its way through the streets of Southport and down into Broadwater Parklands, and the great day of family fun afterwards. 

The Brashness had a choice of two hats to wear for this march - his Labor Party hat or his Queensland Nurses' Union hat. Brash is a nurse at our local public hospital, frequently working in wards like nursery special care and emergency, and he also works at his union providing advice to members about issues. See if you can spot him in any photos!

Australian Council of Trade Unions President Ged Kearney is right when she says that at the heart of it the industrial relations debate is about people: 'At the most fundamental level, our workplace system is based on a broad and enduring social consensus: that workers’ rights must be protected and there is a role for policy intervention to ensure they are rewarded equitably for their efforts'. And yes, the ACTU President is a woman, which was news to one of my classmates who discussed her in a forum as 'he' not 'she'. Mental note to my classmates - check your facts. I'm guessing this person was a liberal :).

There seems to be a lot of misinformation in the community in general about unions - the word means simply the 'action of joining together' or 'an association formed by people with a common interest or purpose'. Unions are simply made up of like-minded people - or as the slogan says, WE are union. 

Do you enjoy a five day week, eight hour day, annual leave, sick days, penalty rates, overtime, a safe workplace or any combination of the above? If you do, thank a union. In fact, you should thank the union movement for most of our modern day worker's rights and entitlements including the minimum wage. The Labor Party itself arose out of the union movement in the late eighteen hundreds and is Australia's oldest political party. 

So the next time someone says 'what's the union ever done for me?', feel free to give them a list.

Here's a short video of the march coming into the Parklands:

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