Rally Against the Fair Work Ombudsman 5th of April 2023

The rally was well attended with 10, 000 members present. The subject of the rally was that the ABCC commissioners had mostly been given new jobs at the Fair Work Ombudsman. Three quarters of the commissioners got jobs at the new organisation two levels up in the same building. The Building Trades Group were all present and sent representatives or their state secretaries. These unions were mostly from the CFMEU and with lesser numbers the ETU, Plumbers Union and the AMWU. The AMWU was more moderate than the other unions but was still supportive of the rally and its objective. Most of the members from the EBA jobs walked off the job from all over Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Ipswich attended the rally by walking from their jobs in smaller rallies or by bus. The rally was held in every state in the country.

The workers walked down the street with the police being forced to shut down the streets due to the numbers marching from Queen’s Park to Felix Street. There were many chants and plenty of spirit. The workers got to the building with the Senators from the Federal Albanese ALP government. When the workers got to the glass facade and doors they began to bang on the glass in high spirits, the glass on the door shattered by accident. Not long after this the organisers helped move the workers away from the doors and the police moved into the front of the doors. Apart from this minor damage the rally was spirited and fun. The ABC and other media outlets framed the protest about the glass door being broken and mostly ignored the message of the rally which was then picked up by various other news outlets. The rally was a positive experience for the workers present and allowed many comrades who haven’t seen each other for some time to catch up in the park, during and after the rally.

Despite the negative media attention, the rally was a fun and positive experience for the vast majority of those who attended. The fact that the media immediately went into attack mode shows the fear that mass industrial action and worker protest has on the middle class and the intelligentsia in particular who framed the rally in Brisbane being down to the old trope of union thugs and not an important protest from the workers movement. The rally showed the pent-up anger and resentment that the Coalition governments have spent 10 years trying to destroy. If the conditions of the Construction unions regarding the fear of media and political reprisal as a result of the minor damage been less feared then they are at present and workers felt empowered to go further, perhaps more pressure could have been applied. If struggle was at a higher level, then this event could not have been so easily forgotten by the middle classes and ignored by the political class. Nevertheless, the protest sent a message to the bourgeois and the political class that, along with the NSW strike wave, workers protests and mass strikes are back.

Joseph S.