The region’s employees were told to march “loud and proud” – and they did just that when the Hunter Workers staged its annual May Day Parade on Hamilton’s Beaumont Street this morning.
To coincide with International Workers Day on 1 May, hundreds of locals, representing many occupations from teachers to nurses, hairdressers to electricians, recognised and honoured those who have been on the frontline during COVID-19, risking their lives and health.
Hunter Workers, formerly known as the Newcastle Trades Hall Council, regularly campaigns to improve the livelihoods, wages, working conditions and social services for all employees and their families.
“I’m very happy with the turnout,” secretary Leigh Shears told the Newcastle Weekly.
“There are strong numbers here, which is pretty pleasing.
“And, I’m expecting more throughout the proceedings, too.
“It’s a really good day.
“It has been a while since we’ve been able to come together as a group.
“Our first march took place in the late 1800s, so we’ve hosted this [May Day Parade] for a long time.
“Understandably, we missed out in 2020 due to the pandemic.”
Nationally and internationally, May Day boasts a rich history of union action and workers’ rights wins.
But, Mr Shears acknowledged it had been a tough year.
“In the past few months, healthcare personnel have been working hard to distribute and administer vaccines to our frontline workers, so they can continue carrying out the work that keeps Australia running,” he said.
“In Australia, our essential workers have braved floods, bushfires and droughts, all while providing us with the necessary services we need to function as a community.
“Hunter Workers represents all working people around this region and in all industries.
“So, we cover a broad cross-section.
“There’s not a workplace that you wouldn’t have coverage from one of our affiliates.
“However, today [Saturday] is all about celebrating our frontline and essential workers.
“We’ve always known employees have been vital to our economy and important to the fabric of our society.
“And, we will continue to campaign for the things that matter for all workers across the region.”