June 28 in Sydney

Reports vary on the numbers that attended the Blacktown Rally. Labor Tribune carries comments from a selection of attendees...

June 28 Blacktown rally
"The June 28 rally at Blacktown in Sydney's west was a real success. Up to 40,000 workers representing dozens of unions rallied as a part of the national day of action against the WorkChoices legislation.
"For the Fire Brigades Employees Union the day went well, with 300 members and 10 fire appliances in attendance. It was a good show of strength for our new union leadership, and was an excellant opportunity for us to identify new potential station delegates.
"The question now becomes: what next? The government is weak on the IR reforms, and actions like June 28 are terribly important in giving some expression to the groundswell of opposition to WorkChoices. There will be another national day of action in November, and it is important to begin building for this as soon as possible.
"But rallies alone will not be enough. The government ignored mass rallies around the Iraq war, and they'll ignore them around industrial relations as well. What they cannot ignore is industrial action to defend workers who are attacked. The campaign needs to be looking toward this - as individual workplaces are targeted we need to bring the weight of the labour movement behind them. There is no guarantee that we will win if we pursue this course. But if we do nothing, or if we rely simply on propaganda campaigns, we can be guaranteed of a loss."
Jim Casey
Senior vice-president
NSW Fire Brigades Employees Union

"The June 28 day of action sent a clear message to John Howard and his local lackey Louise Markus that working people across Australia are being hurt by their repressive laws.
The fact that 300,000 workers defied threats, intimidation, fines and government backed watchdogs to take action and protest is encouraging for the trade movement and a warning to the Howard Government.
Our campaign has proved that it is not only surviving but growing under WorkChoices and we will be ready to defeat the Liberal Government at the next election."
Andrew Ferguson

"The turnout was well beyond what I expected. Originally I was more in favour of holding a central rally in the city. But as long as Unions NSW is committed to holding more mass protests (which seemed to be the indication from John Robertson's speech), then holding this rally in Blacktown wasn't such a bad thing in the end. Overall the mood at the rally reflected the belief that our message would be hammered home to every worker in Australia, that it would make a difference and that this government's time is running out."
Andrew Fattal
Sydney University Labor Club

"It was a great atmosphere. We need to follow up by making life difficult for those employers who sack workers or try to use AWAs to reduce wages and conditions by naming, shaming and disrupting their business.
"These new laws need to be made unworkable"
Hazel Blunden
Greens member