Western Sydney rallies against government's workplace reforms

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wikinews Australia has in-depth coverage of this issue: Australian industrial relations legislation, 2005

According to initial estimates by New South Wales police and unions, 30,000 people have rallied at Blacktown Showground in Western Sydney to protest the federal government's Workchoices workplace reforms. Organisers had expected around 15,000 protesters to attend.

The rally at Blacktown is one of many to be held around Australia today as part of a "National Day of Action" to "protect worker's rights at work" according to unions.

The Blacktown rally saw masses of truck drivers, construction workers, teachers and police officers carrying banners and flags signalling their discontent at the federal government's reforms.

Many of the workers were joined by their families, chanting to the federal government "Your workplace changes have to go."

Speaking to protesters in Western Sydney, John Robertson, secretary of Unions New South Wales said the federal government had stripped away 100 years of worker's rights. "These laws are direct attacks on hard-working Australians who are trying to pay off a home, provide for their kids' futures and have a bit of economic security," Mr Robertson said.

"It's in the suburbs and regional Australia that the impact of these laws will be felt - stripping away job security, penalty rates, time with family and wage rates."

The NSW Premier's department has encouraged state government employees to attend the rallies to show their anger at the workplace reforms. As such, schools are mainly providing supervision today so parents can attend rallies, with many teachers also in attendance.

Employees of Australia Post, a company wholly owned by the federal government, have been warned that unauthorised absences will result in disciplinary action being taken.

Speaking earlier today, Federal Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews said he expected most workers would not join the protests. "The reality is that most people are not going to do it because they know that we have delivered, as a government, a period of relative prosperity in Australia," said Mr Andrews.

"Part of the way we have done that has been to have the courage to engage in the reforms so we can meet the challenges of the future."

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