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May Day March, Sydney 1st May 2023

Written by: Jed J. on 14 May 2023


Sometimes when participating in a May Day March it pays to look, listen and learn and on this march learn I did just that.

The march was noisy. There was an aura of power and militancy in the air as unionists from a diverse range of unions marched together in solidarity.

There was a sense of unity and a comradely atmosphere. Even the police sent to deal with any disturbance that might arise were friendly and some even mixed freely with those they were sent to keep an eye on.

When the chant “the workers united will never be defeated’ was aired it was clear that the chant and march were on the same page.

The fact that the march was taking place on May 1 was also significant. It linked the workers of Australia with those of other countries who would over the next 24 hours also be marching.

That workers all over the world were marching on the same day reinforces the call for workers of the world to unite.

No doubt in many places the same grievances will be aired as living standards are under threat due to the attack on workers wages and conditions by capitalists the world over.

While most unions didn’t join the strike, many sent contingents to express solidarity. 

At the Sydney rally one speaker pointed out that over 90% of the economic growth that has been achieved in the last period has been gobbled up by 7% of the population. 

Workers are clearly not getting the benefit from the creation of wealth their labour power has been responsible for.

Without the labour power of the workers there would be no economic growth. The capitalists are parasites on the working class. 

Those who spoke at the rally pointed out how the industrial laws that prevail in Australia clearly favour capitalists and at the same time they make it very difficult for workers to struggle for better wages and conditions.

It was made clear by those who spoke that they expect changes to the industrial laws and they want them changed now.

Some laws were singled out. Workers are concerned that although the ABCC has been abolished, as Labor promised before the federal election, key ABCC leaders have been shifted to the Fair Work Ombudsman and boast about “continuing ABCC methods” there. 

In reality, Labor’s promise has been broken.

It was made clear that as far as the organised working class goes, it’s not good enough.

Speakers said the “Fair Work” Commission is anything but fair and needs to be replaced.

The new Labor Premier of NSW was also put on notice to deliver on promises, including changing industrial relations laws and repeal of anti-protest laws. Unions present fully support a mass rally to be held in June to put pressure on them to do so.

It was clear from the march that some key unions are increasingly united, militant and deadly serious.  Just helping to bring about a change of government is not enough.

There is every indication that workers are coming to a realisation that they need to continue to struggle no matter which party is in government if they are to achieve laws that recognise their rights.

If there is one lesson to be learnt from the march, it is that there are unions up for the fight and are prepared to play a leading role.


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