100,000 People Just Filled Melbourne’s Streets To Demand Better Pay And Working Conditions

"Crumbs are no longer good enough... we want the whole cake."

union protest

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An estimated 100,000 people took to Melbourne’s streets today for a massive union protest demanding better pay and working conditions. This protest was so big it blocked streets and trams in the area for hours, forcing commuters to listen to the sweet sound of workers demanding their rights.

I mean, just look at it:

The rally was part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ #ChangeTheRules campaign, which aims to (you guessed it) change the rules so that workers get a better deal. They’re campaigning for better pay and more job security, and opposing the increasing casualisation of the workforce, wage theft, and tax evasion by big business. They’re also calling for a $50-a-week increase in the minimum wage.

Union members have been attending rallies in cities all around the country over the past few weeks, but today’s Melbourne event knocked it out of the park, possibly because yesterday the federal budget was released.

As Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Luke Hilakari told the assembled crowd, “last night’s budget did nothing for working people.”

“Malcolm Turnbull threw crumbs to Australian workers,” he said. “But crumbs are no longer good enough for working people. We want the whole cake. We want our penalty rates back, we want equal pay for women.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus slammed slowly rising wages, pointing out that “at the moment, profits are going up and so is productivity. But wages aren’t”, and calling on the government to change that.

As workers marched, they chanted “hey hey, ho ho, these broken rules have got to go”, and “Malcolm Turnbull thinks we’re fools, vote him out and change the rules”. And who knows, maybe with this many people making that kind of threat, Malcolm Turnbull will sit up and listen.