Unions warn about penalty rates as thousands mark May Day

Thousands of workers from across the State have taken part in the annual May Day march, with numbers swelling due to the threat a potential Abbott Coalition Government poses to basic rights such as penalty rates.


Today’s march in Sydney is the largest May Day rally the union movement has seen in a decade.


Unions NSW Secretary, Mark Lennon said working people in Sydney had already seen what life was like under a conservative state government and didn’t want to see a repeat at the federal level.


“In the same week that Tony Abbott began preparing the ground for an assault on penalty rates we have also seen Barry O’Farrell chip away further at public sector wages,” Mr Lennon said.


“Attacking jobs, rights and services is core business for Coalition governments.


“Having the Coalition in power at both a federal and state level would be a disaster for working people in this state, and that’s why we’ve seen such a surge in numbers for this year’s May Day.


Organisers estimate around seven thousand people marched in today’s Sydney parade, with all major unions participating.


May Day marks the beginning of the eight-hour day marches in Australia in the 1850s. It also commemorates a violent clash between workers and police in Chicago, in 1886 when police opened fire on workers at Haymarket.


“While May Day is historically important it also serves as an important rallying point for trade unionists now, as today’s rally demonstrates,” Mr Lennon said.

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