What are you doing on Labour Day?
“This is what it must be like during a war!” said a bucket and spade wielding young man as he climbed aboard the bus. Indeed the sea of people standing around with their gardening tools and gloves, waiting to fill an army of buses, did seem like something very different from everyday life. In Brisbane twenty three thousand people volunteered to help the Council organised cleanup after the floods. A similar number simply walked around the flooded suburbs and offered help where it was needed.
What has often been missed in commentary on this outpouring of assistance for those in need, is the critical role that the labour movement has played in building that spirit of collective support. We are told that only 20% of workers are members of unions. Yet the majority of workers realise the importance of achieving improvements together – surveys of workers routinely show that the majority appreciate the role that unions play in improving conditions and supporting those in need of assistance.
This collective spirit is at the heart of unionism – and it was this collective spirit that was very much in evidence when the floods devastated so many lives in Queensland (and other states too of course).
Not only should we be helping to further build that collective spirit by building our union, the NTEU. We need to celebrate that spirit as one of the most important parts of our Australian identity. Labour Day is fast approaching – and that is the ideal day to take part in that celebration.
NTEU members have another reason to be celebrating then. For most of our Queensland branches new enterprise agreements have finally been achieved which provide significant improvements in working conditions for staff in universities. Labour Day is the ideal time to celebrate these gains!
If you have not attended previously, think about coming along this year. Join together with other NTEU members in the Labour Day march through Brisbane streets, and then share a story or two with each other in the NTEU tent at the ekka grounds after the march. In Brisbane this march is a truly unique event - unmatched by marches in southern cities – when more than ten thousand workers from every occupation bring a real feeling of camaraderie. It does make you feel proud to be a union member!
We shall be sending out details closer to the day. For now, take out your calendar and mark down Monday May 2nd