Hundreds turn out for Change the Rules rally
GLADSTONE workers raised their voices alongside thousands of others across the country today, calling for fair pay rises and more secure jobs.
The nationwide Change the Rules rallies started in Perth on October 18 and will be held at various locations until November 20, with Gladstone having its turn on Tuesday.
Hundreds gathered at the Marina Parklands to hear from union representatives with the main consensus being a lack of balance in the system.
"It's quite clear the industrial relations laws in this country are broken, it's oppressing the rights of workers and their chance to have their fair lot in life," said Rohan Webb, honorary president of the Queensland Council of Unions.
"We're sending a clear message to all persuasions of government that the industrial relations system is broken and we need to fix it."
Workers from a wide variety of occupations took part in the Gladstone rally.
"All workers are feeling some sort of pressure at this particular juncture," Mr Webb said. "We need to bring some balance back in because the pendulum has swung too far to the employers' side and we need to bring that back in the centre."
Mr Webb said the challenges for Gladstone workers had been lingering for years.
"There's absolute oppression in Gladstone. We saw the big highs with the Curtis (Island) LNG, the local economy boomed for a little while, we saw wages go up, rentals go up and then all of a sudden when that work finished what we've now seen is downward pressure on wages, downward pressure on terms and conditions of employment," he said.
"Casualisation, especially labour hire, is a scourge and we've seen a rapid and rampant growth of that within Gladstone and there's a lot of hard-working men, women and working families looking for a secure job.
"There's a lot of people in precarious employment."
Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said the recent activities of unions was "political protesting in disguise".
"It's not trade union activities - it is political protesting in disguise, for which unions want employers to pay," he said.
"Reforms introduced by John Howard and Peter Reith on the Liberal side of politics, including freedom of association, simplification of awards and effective remedies against industrial action, weren't backed by Labor, but were retained by Labor governments.
"This is now at risk with the ACTU's Sally McManus' pitch to Bill Shorten that the rules need to be thrown out."