More than 1500 workers, trade unionists and concerned community members have rallied in the central Queensland coastal town of Gladstone to protest the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Police shut roads as a peaceful march wound its way through the streets to the offices of Liberal MP Ken O’Dowd, who was not in town to address the protestors.
Speakers including QCU secretary Roslyn McLennan, ETU national secretary Allen Hicks and CMFEU Queensland secretary Michael Ravbar told the assembled workers and their families that the China Free Trade Agreement was not in the interests of working Australians.
“We’re not opposed to trade liberalisation or trade agreements in principle,” said Mr Hicks. “But this is a dud deal.”
“It allows companies to undercut the wages and conditions of Australian workers by exploiting overseas labour, and it takes opportunities away from Australian workers and food off the table of their families,” he said.
“It undermines out safety, our prosperity and our standards.”
Mr Hicks said the strong turnout was indicative of community concerns about the impact of the agreement.
“The Abbott government negotiated this agreement in secret behind closed doors. They thought they could put one past the Australian people.
“But as working Australians around the country find out what the government has signed away they are rightly horrified.
“I encourage everyone to go out into the communities – to the universities, the pubs and clubs, their workplaces and their sports clubs – and speak about this rotten agreement.”
The rally is one of a series of events that a coalition of unions has planned around the country. The next will take place in Darwin on Sunday August 23, followed by Perth on August 25.
For photos of the event go to: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/DHi861
Media contact: Lachlan Williams – 0447 682 027 [email protected]