Union members across the state turned out in their thousands during the Labour Day long weekend, 28 April to 1 May 2023.
Members proudly carried corflutes, waved flags and donned T-Shirts emblazoned with the Unions for YES message in a strong display of support for a successful referendum on an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
QCU Acting General Secretary Jacqueline King said Queensland unions had thrown their support behind the campaign because inclusion, reconciliation and social justice were core union business.
“Unions have always fought for social justice; it’s in our DNA,” she said.
“Union members understand the importance of having a voice; they know the best outcomes are achieved when people have a say about the matters that impact them.
“Unions are standing shoulder to shoulder with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in supporting the Voice and sending a clear message that voting YES will move the country forward.”
Referendum a chance to “walk together”
Dr Robert “Uncle Bob” Vincent Anderson OAM, a Ngugi Elder from Mulgumpin in Quandamooka, who joined the Labour Day celebrations in Brisbane, said the upcoming referendum is an opportunity to recognise the First Peoples of Australia in the Constitution.
“In 1967, I campaigned for the referendum; the results were remarkable…and brought favourable winds of change where Australian people started to walk together,” he said.
“Now, we are asking people of goodwill to support our campaign for a Voice to Parliament so we can be acknowledged and have a say in the policies and laws that impact on our lives.
“I encourage all Australians to join with me in saying ‘YES’ to a Voice to Parliament and seal this commitment in the Australian Constitution.
“Let us talk together and walk together; let’s celebrate and be proud of our oldest continuing First Nations culture and together we will share a common destiny.”
Further industrial relations reform in sight
Ms King said repairing Australia’s industrial relations system was back on the agenda after a series of reform implemented by the Albanese federal government.
“The Secure Jobs, Better Pay laws have paved the way for an improved industrial landscape for workers, one where unions can begin addressing a decade of flat wages and growing insecure work,” Ms King said.
“We enjoyed hearing from Minister Tony Burke on Labour Day about further reforms expected this year to close the loopholes that allow employers to undercut wages and working conditions.”
Sex workers march following decriminalisation push
Ms King said sex workers from advocacy group Decrim QLD proudly marched alongside the Queensland Unions contingent during the Brisbane Labour Day march.
“With the Queensland government announcing its intention to fully decriminalise the sex work industry, we were proud to march alongside sex workers from Decrim QLD who have been calling for decriminalisation for decades – and have been instrumental in securing this reform,” Ms King said.
“Sex work is real work and sex workers deserve the same health, safety and legal protections that apply to all other workers.”
Over the long weekend, Labour Day celebrations were held in Brisbane, Bowen, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gold Coast, Gladstone, Ipswich, Mackay, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville.