The crowd gathered yesterday morning in Carlton, where they proceeded to march to Federation Square, causing several major intersections around the CBD to come to a standstill.
Protests are the result of union anger over the Productivity Commission’s impending review
into Australia’s workplace relations system, which is set to examine areas such as penalty rates and the minimum wage.
However, unions have been accused over scaremongering in regards to the inquiry, particularly since the government seemed to rule out radical overhauls of penalty rates and the minimum wage.
Employment minister Eric Abetz said in a statement recently that unions were embarking on a “scare campaign” over penalty rates, stating that certain unions had been making “outrageous” and “immoral” claims.
"The government will leave the responsibility of setting modern awards, including penalty rates, and the minimum wage with the Fair Work Commission
," said Abetz. "That's the way it remains under the Coalition."
“Around 70% of businesses in Australia are family owned or small businesses,” Martin Nally, managing director at hranywhere previously told HC
. “Yet it appears that as a nation we are driven by the big end of town. I’d suggest that we leave penalty rates as they are, but introduce a Modern Award for small to medium businesses, with penalties for working a sixth day rather than a specific day such as weekends. This would provide an extra day incentive.”
“None of the major parties seem to understand that small businesses are the driving force behind our economy,” he added. “We need to change the paradigm so that we are supporting fair rates for fair work.”
This is not the only backlash the government agenda faced, with protests being staged in every capital city across the country as well as regionally, with workers across several industries in attendance.
Dave Oliver, the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, told Melbourne’s crowd yesterday that the inquiry is being used as a “Trojan horse” to revert to Howard-era industrial relations
“The community will not stand by while the Liberals take Australia in the wrong direction,” he said.
Official review of Australian ‘workplace relations framework’ due in 2015
How will Productivity Commission’s inquiry affect employers?
Can’t afford pay rises? How to keep employees happy when times are tough
Thousands of workers rallied in Melbourne yesterday in protest against the government’s workplace relations agenda,