Victorian workers march for better pay

Thousands of union workers have protested for better pay and more secure jobs in Melbourne.Thousands of workers have shut down part of Melbourne’s CBD, saying the federal coalition can keep its slated tax cuts for low-and middle-income workers.
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Wednesday’s march is part of a nationwide “Change the Rules” union campaign to demand better pay and work conditions.

The latest action comes after the federal budget on Tuesday unveiled a tax offset of between $200 and $530 for workers earning up to $90,000 a year, from July.

But Victorian Trades Hall Council secretary Luke Hilakari likened the measure to throwing “crumbs” to workers.

“The $10 tax (a week) relief for poor and working people is just not good enough. They can keep that $10,” he told reporters.

“What we actually want is a large pay rise. We don’t want a tax cut.”

An estimated tens of thousands of workers began marching from Trades Hall to Flinders Street Station, disrupting traffic and public transport.

Bureau of Meteorology employee Cameron Henderson said he and his coworkers were “starving” for a fair pay deal.

“We haven’t had a pay rise in nearly five years,” Mr Henderson told AAP.

“Over that time, CPI’s gone up 10 per cent and we’re being offered a deal that would see us remain at 10 per cent CPI until the end of 2021.”

University of Melbourne employees earlier staged a rally in support of academic and intellectual freedom, and against a plan to put academic and professional staff on two separate workplace agreements.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said workers would keep fighting increased casualisation, low wage growth and inadequate job conditions.

“At the moment, profits are going up and so is productivity. But wages aren’t,” she said.