SOLIDARITY: From left, AMWU organiser Phil Golby, ASU member John Holzheimer, Electrical Trade Union CQ organiser Craig Gordon, United Voice representative Shelly Holzheimer and president of the Port Curtis and Hinterland ALP branch Glenn Butcher will celebrate Labour Day despite the date change.
SOLIDARITY: From left, AMWU organiser Phil Golby, ASU member John Holzheimer, Electrical Trade Union CQ organiser Craig Gordon, United Voice representative Shelly Holzheimer and president of the Port Curtis and Hinterland ALP branch Glenn Butcher will celebrate Labour Day despite the date change. Tom Huntley

Unions in Gladstone honour Labour Day despite date change

TRADITIONALLY this weekend would be a long weekend.

Labour Day, otherwise known as May Day, has been celebrated in Queensland for more than 120 years.

It commemorates the granting of an eight-hour working day for Australians.

President of the Port Curtis and Hinterland ALP branch Glenn Butcher is not happy that it will no longer be celebrated in May.

Every year local unions gather for a friendly march to show their support for the celebration of Labour Day.

"One of the first laws Newman passed was to change the traditional Labour Day," Mr Butcher said.

"Despite all of that, we are getting all the unions together to continue on with tradition and have our march on the true Labour Day."

Mr Butcher said he understands it will be a working day but, if anyone had a rostered day off or annual leave booked, he urged them to join the march.

"The last thing we want to promote is people taking sick days to have a day off but if people are able to come down, we would appreciate it if they did," he said.

He said the union hoped to show two things.

"One is that we are still union strong and we are happy to celebrate on the traditional day, and the second is to show Campbell Newman that he has done this in spite of unions and we are totally against it.

"We want Labour Day back where it belongs."

He said the Queen's Birthday public holiday should have been changed rather than Labour Day.

"The Queen's Birthday as it stands in itself has no relation to the actual Queen's Birthday," Mr Butcher said.

"Now Labour Day has been taken to the back end of the year, it holds no traditional significance."

Members of the United Voice union will also join the march and celebrations.

Spokeswoman Shelly Holzheimer said the union represented 400 members across Gladstone - mainly teacher aides, school and shopping centre cleaners, security staff, and early childhood workers.

She said job security was a huge concern for many of the members.

"The shedding of 14,000 jobs by the Newman Government remains a huge concern for those who work in the public sector," she said.

"Add to this the recent confirmation by the Education Minister regarding the closure of schools, and job security becomes further destabilised."

She said the State Government's planned asset sale was also "frightening".

"Through confusing language and phrases with hidden meaning, the government has basically told us that more of our members will lose their jobs and vital public services will be privatised," she said.

She said these latest concerns came on top of cost-of-living pressures in Gladstone, due to the industry boom.

"Rents have sky-rocketed, yet for most of our members, their wages remain low," she said.

The march will leave from the corner of William and Auckland Streets at 10am, marching to the marina where families will gather for a fun time.

Strikes, marches and visual and vocal disputes have been frequent across Gladstone throughout the last year.

Just last week a number of GLNG workers walked off the job, following disputes over ferry times and travel arrangements between unions and construction company Bechtel.

Mid-April, union officials and fed-up locals voiced their opinions on companies relying on workers on 457 visas.