Rail, Tram and Bus Union Queensland branch organiser Ross Schimke, with his son Quinn, will lead Ipswich’s Labour Day march.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union Queensland branch organiser Ross Schimke, with his son Quinn, will lead Ipswich’s Labour Day march. David Nielsen

Asset sale tension mars Labour Day

LABOR politicians and Ipswich union members will gather at the Labour Day march this Saturday, amid tensions over the State Government’s contentious asset sales.

Leading the march will be the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, which celebrates its 125th anniversary in Queensland.

The Queensland Railway Employees’ Association, the union’s forerunner, was formed in Ipswich in 1886.

Branch organiser Ross Schimke said the RTBU was the largest rail industry union in Australia with 29,000 members.

“The beginning of the union was “hard yakka” as wives and children travelled with rail workers and lived in tents to construct the state’s first railways,” he said.

“Back then unions were formed to improve conditions, as there were no awards or agreements in place, only the bosses’ rules.”

Today the RTBU is fighting privatisation of State Government assets and further job cuts.

“(Premier) Bligh and the previous Transport Minister told us the privatisation of the Redbank Workshops would create more job opportunities,” Mr Schimke said.

“In Ipswich we’ve lost almost a fifth of the overall redundancies introduced by QR National, that equated to just over 120 workers from Redbank Workshops.”

Mr Schimke said his union believed the State Government was going away from the foundations and principles the Labor Party stood for.

Member for Ipswich Rachel Nolan said there had always been tensions within the labour movement about “true Labor values”.

“There’ll always be a debate in the party. I’ll always be on the side that’s going forward,” she said.

“I am part of a party that delivers fair industrial relations and the public health and education systems working people need.”

The Ipswich Labour Day march and celebration on Saturday starts at 9.30am at Timothy Molony Park, Mary St.

A family fun day at the park will follow the march from 10.30am.

Emergency services workers will also be at the front of the parade, in recognition of their work during the floods.

The theme for the day is “Working for a Better Life”.



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