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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

N30: Slavery on the Gold Coast by Amelia Taylor

Four thousand Gold Coast workers rallied on November 30, in one of the biggest protests ever seen in the city. Even threatening grey skies didn’t lessen the turn-out. However, threatening business owners and bosses did cause the numbers to dwindle as 9am approached and many were forced to leave for work.

A widespread campaign of fear and intimidation had been waged across the Gold Coast during the weeks leading up to November 30, and workers took the opportunity to show their support early in the day, whilst still holding onto their jobs.

Socialist Alliance members countered this by taking their own protest to the workers — in the form of a chain gang that spent the day shuffling about Southport and handing information packs to workers, community members and students from the local TAFE.

The response was unbelievable!” said slave #1 Shane Carter, who works in the hospitality industry. “We expected to get some interest from the public, but workers were actually walking out of shops and cafes to talk to us and read the information packs that we had.”

The gang hands out packs, dubbed “survival guides”, with information from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the United Casual Workers Alliance, Socialist Alliance and a variety of unions. They see this as a great way of getting information on the new industrial relations laws to members of the public.

“Many people know bits and pieces about the new laws, but it can be hard to get concrete information. This is a way of letting people go through the information in their own time — they can read the pack at home or on the bus. If they have any questions, there are telephone numbers to call contained in the pack”, Carter explained.

Many people encouraged the group to make the chain-gang a regular thing, and the group plans to be shuffling around the Gold Coast at least once a week.

From: Australian News, Green Left Weekly issue #693 6 December 2006.

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