Gladstone turns out for the annual Labour Day march.
Gladstone turns out for the annual Labour Day march. Paul Braven GLA010517LABOURDAY

Gladstone workers march against slashed penalty rates

HUNDREDS of workers took to the roads this morning to stand up for what is fair.

Families, young children, union members and even their dogs marched in protest of cuts to working conditions, including penalty rates.

Australian Workers Union (AWU) member Greg Shields said the loss of penalty rates would create a dim future for workers.

"We don't want to lose penalty rates," Mr Shields said.

"Once it starts it keeps going."

Mr Shields said cuts to penalty rates did not just impact hospitality workers, but spread across all industries including tourism at Heron Island.

"Lots of people don't realise it's a lot of other things too, not just cafes and small shops," he said.

"Once we lose penalty rates, there's not much left is there?"

AWU member Dave "Rhino" Reindl said penalty rate cuts could be fair for flat rate workers who worked Monday to Friday.

"We work shift weekends, public holidays and get shift rates .... it's a big chunk of your income gone," he said.

"They don't improve the community where they're working, and they treat us like slave labour."

Electrical Trade Union (ETU) member Robert Chard said the Labour Day march was important to give all the workers a voice.

"Everything from holidays, four weeks annual leave, sick leave ... all the things people take for granted," Mr Chard said.

"Nothing was ever given to any worker just because a boss was generous."

Mr Chard said the idea Australians lived in a community where businesses were constantly open fuelled the decision to cut penalty rates.

"Now they're taking penalty rates away people are losing the distinction, everything thinks we're a 24/7 community," he said.

"There needs to be some family time there.

"Just leave (penalty rates) alone. Just leave them alone, it's as simple as that."

Queensland Senator Murray Watt, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher, Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett and councillor Kahn Goodluck all attended the march.

The march started at the Gladstone Council Chambers' car park on Central Lane and finished at the Gladstone Marina Park with live entertainment and a barbecue.

AWU member and former candidate for Flynn Zac Beers was happy with the turnout.

"It has been good given we've had a lot of workers leave town... numbers are still staying up," he said.



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