Rallies to Change the Rules wrap up after month-long protest

Nicholas McCallum

Twice this year more than 250,000 people marched through Australian cities and towns. 

The mass Rallies to Change the Rules that had rolled around the country for a whole month wrapped up in Brisbane and Canberra on November 20.

The warm sun was shining down on the 20,000 marching workers and unionists in Brissie on that Tuesday in late spring.

ETU members were out in force with their Queensland comrades, rolling through the CBD, clogging the streets as they headed to the offices of the Fair Work Commission.


“It was a good roll-out and we want to grow that for the next one,” Ong said.

“On the day we put a motion up calling on the ACTU leadership for national day of action, with all affiliates to be involved and, of course, the general public.”

The Queensland-NT Secretary said there was an impressive showing at the rally and while the building trades had the biggest numbers there was good participation from all unions.

He said the national day of action would come before the impending federal election and unions will see even greater numbers marching in the streets.

“So you can expect to see us out on the street and at train stations once we lock in a date” he said.

Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Ross McLennan told AAP on the day that a line had been drawn in the sand and Australians needed to pick a side of either “hard hats or top hats”. 

“At its very core, the Change the Rules campaign is about fighting back against growing inequality,” she said.

“Saying, ‘no’ to the widening gulf between the haves and the have nots.”

This is why workers have been matching – to push for a change to the rules of rigged system.

At the rally in Canberra, where it was a lot warmer than when the ETU marched on Parliament House in June, ACTU President Michele O'Neil said the union message about industrial relations reform and fighting for a fairer Australia was clear, but the Tories still needed to hear it.

"This political protest is aimed at making Scott Morrison and federal politicians listen," Ms O'Neil said.

 ETU members Brad Walker and Frank D’Addario, who work on Canberra Metro ahead of the Change the Rules rally.

"Our wages are going backwards, families are struggling, and too many people are stuck in insecure work."

After the month-long protest, more than 250,000 people marched through the streets of cities and towns across Australia. It was the second time this year that the union movement drew such massive numbers

It was strong peak for a powerful year for the union movement in the lead-up to the Christmas-New Year period – otherwise known as the “Silly Season”.

In celebration on this time, here are some of the sillier and most entertaining placards from the Rallies to Change the Rules.




Ahead of the Melbourne Mega-Rally, the ETU Victoria announced it would award the best placard a $3000 travel voucher that the branch had won at a recent John Cummins Memorial Dinner. 

That went to Sarah McKenzie of the MEAA for her 'Bojack Horseman' inspired design.

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