The Rally from my perspective – A proud day for Unions, a proud day for the FBEU
FBEU Union officials and staff made our way to St Mary’s Cathedral, and started staging the fire appliances in College St as they arrived. Off duty members turned up in hoards, and the crowd of FBEU members grew.
At around 11.30 the contingent of approx 20+ off-duty members from City of Sydney fire station arrived under the FBEU banner too.
State Secretary of the FBEU, Jim Casey, and I were able to do lots of media during this part of the rally, and much of that went to press that afternoon.
Soon, around 200 on duty members on strike were in attendance, and another 400 off duty members were ready to go.
FBEU member ‘The Prof’ prepared the green Barry O’Farrell “lowest wages are just the beginning” banner, having been made up by the FBEU earlier in the week.
Jim Casey and myself addressed the FBEU rally from the top of one of the fire trucks, and formally resolved by democratic vote to endorse the stop work action, and join the other Unions at Parliament.
We then marched up College St toward Parliament House, to the chant of ‘Workers United’.
As we approached the many thousands already at the main rally, our chant got louder, and the sea of unionists parted. The FBEU, led by the Green “lowest wages” banner, marched straight into, and through, over ten thousand unionists and community group members, to the cheers and claps of the crowd, and to the announcement of UnionsNSW speakers.
It must have been quite a sight from the steps of parliament house, where many members of parliament stood, to see 600-700 firefighters in full firefighting uniform march into the crowd to a warm reception.
From there the main rally started, and the main speeches occurred.
Rank and file members of each Union gave a personal account, including Comrade Marty Dixon for the FBEU.
The rain soon fell, but the spirits of those in attendance lifted. The NSW Parliament was in no two minds as to how the public sector felt about what was occurring, and the warnings of continued action were made clear.
This rally, and in particular our involvement, was a huge success.
I had to find a rank and file member for a final media grab with channel 10 at the end of the event. I grabbed a good mate of mine, and solid Comrade, Paul Camilleri, and his statement was on TEN news that night. It went something like this:
“If Barry was in a house fire, I’d probably rescue him, I care about Barry, I just want Barry to care about us.” Nice one PC.