Unions support Palestine at Sydney 1 May rally

Thousands of workers downed tools to march through Sydney on 1 May, with construction and maritime unions making May Day an annual stop work rally.

This year there was also a Unionists for Palestine contingent and a Palestinian speaker who addressed thousands of workers on the situation in Gaza.

For construction workers, the focus was on the implementation of industrial manslaughter laws. Darren Greenfield from the CFMEU said, “the unions have got them to agree to bring industrial manslaughter into NSW. It is the only state in the country that doesn’t have it.”

Mel Gatfield from UWU also informed the crowd that about 100 workers had, that morning, walked off a logistics site in Eastern Creek, where, “Our members are trying to support their families on wages that have gone backwards.”

Gatfield also recognised cleaning workers fighting “to stop the casualisation of jobs and to end the two tier workforce policies”, arguing “The Labor government can make 7000 good jobs in every corner of the state by bringing those cleaners back in house.”

Jana Fayyad of the Palestine Justice Movement told the crowd, “I’ve seen incredible union support over the last six and a half months, in particular from the MUA. You hold the power, and you can say no to apartheid Israel. You can say no to any kind of work that is complicit in the genocide and occupation of Palestinians.”

Paul Keating from MUA also criticised the NSW government by calling on Chris Minns to “get rid of those anti-protest laws”, as well as demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, sanctions on Israel and arms embargoes until there is justice for Palestine.

Jana also mentioned the recent ACTU statement calling for an end to military trade with Israel and expressing concern “at evidence that Australian companies supply parts” for “F-35 fighter jets to drop bombs on Gaza”.

The CFMEU was also key to pushing for the statement on the ACTU Executive, following organising against ZIM shipping for sanctions on Israeli companies.

Trade unionists and other Palestine supporters will rally at ports around the country on 25 May to demand an arms embargo and trade sanctions on Israel, and to call for the dropping of charges against MUA members and other activists arrested during the March picket of ZIM shipping.

By Niko Chlopicki

Magazine

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