Melbourne Brought To Standstill As Thousands Rally For Fairer Working Conditions

Melbourne's CBD has been inundated with union protesters demanding fairer working conditions as part of the nationwide 'Change the Rules' campaign.

What you need to know
  • Thousands of union workers gathered in Melbourne's CBD to protest Australia's workplace laws
  • The rally is part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions'  'Change the Rules' campaign, aimed at acquiring greater bargaining power for workers.
  • Less than 24 hours since the Federal budget's release, rally speakers decried the budget's consideration of the Australian worker

Melbourne CBD was all but shut down on Wednesday morning as thousands of protesters flooded the streets to demand fairer working conditions.

Less than 24 hours after the release of the Federal Budget, as many as 100,000 workers took to the streets as part of the Australian Council of Trade Unions'  'Change the Rules' campaign.

Pushing for a complete overhaul of Australia's workplace laws, the nationwide campaign calls for great bargaining power for workers and an end to workforce casualisation.

The crowd, comprised of union workers across several industries, rallied outside Trades Hall ahead of their march to the Melbourne Magistrates Court before heading towards the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets.

With protesters flooding many of the major tram corridors in the city, there are major disruptions across Melbourne's public transport network.

Ahead of the march, Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Luke Hilakari slammed the budget handed down by the Turnbull government last night, telling the crowd the system was "fundamentally broken for working people."

"Last night's budget did nothing for working people," he said.

"Malcolm Turnbull threw crumbs to Australian workers. Crumbs are no longer good enough for working people - we want the whole cake."

"We want our penalty rates back, we want equal pay for women. We want to make sure our jobs are safe."

Sally McManus, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, addressed the rally in Federation Square, decrying the budget's sweeping tax cuts.

"It means the people on the minimum wage will pay the same tax as people earning $200,000 a year," she said.

"That's not a fair tax system, it's also not fair that there's the $80 billion corporate tax cuts in there. In the end when there's less revenue it's working people who end up paying anyway."

In addition to the rally, Melbourne Port workers have reportedly walked off the job, while Melbourne University staff will strike for four hours as part of their campaign for a new enterprise agreement.