10 April, MELBOURNE – Tens of thousands marched for better work conditions and higher wages in Australia Wednesday, bringing the city of Melbourne to a standstill, ahead of national elections in May.
The opposition Labor party wants to make stagnant wages a focus of its election campaign, with its union allies claiming “Australians have seen the largest fall in their living standards in 30 years”. The governing conservative Liberal-National coalition has argued the best way of boosting wages is through company tax cuts. Many demonstrators wore fluorescent “hi-visibility” workwear and carried banners with “Change the Rules” written on them. State premier Daniel Andrews said the rally should remind Canberra that Australians are demanding a proper “living wage”. “People are angry. They are out in the streets. They are out in force but they are campaigning for something very simple: ‘a fair go’,” he told reporters as he joined the mass rally.
City commuters endured a second day of disruption in less than a week, after animal rights activists blocked busy streets Monday during a surprise peak hour demonstration. Some Labor supporters have argued for a slew of workers to receive higher minimum wages and a cap on the number of foreign workers entering the country.
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