UNITED, NEVER DEFEATED: Around 2000 protesters marched through Lismore?s CBD yesterday as part of the National Day of Action ag
UNITED, NEVER DEFEATED: Around 2000 protesters marched through Lismore?s CBD yesterday as part of the National Day of Action ag

Thousands rally in Northern Rivers against IRlaws

By RENEE REDMOND and AAP

TWO thousand people took to the streets of Lismore yesterday as hundreds of thousands across the nation marched yesterday to protest against the Howard Government's industrial relations laws.

The noise from the crowd resonated in the central business district where the protesters marched while waving their provocative placards high.

'Workers united will never be defeated' was chanted as the group made its way around the CBD from Carrington Street through Keen, Woodlark and Molesworth streets and back to Carrington Street.

The National Day of Action protests were held across Australia, with national crowds estimated at more than 300,000.

Other meetings on the Northern Rivers also proved successful, with about 400 people at the Brunswick Hotel, 350 at the Ballina Jockey Club, 110 at the Casino RSM Club and 150 to 200 at the Illawong Hotel in Evans Head.

The Australia-wide protests coincided with this week's Senate inquiry into the Federal Government's contentious WorkChoices Bill.

Under the Bill, State IR systems will be virtually abolished in favour of a single national regime, awards will be stripped back to basics and more workers will be forced on to individual contracts known as Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs).

The changes will also scrap unfair dismissal laws for companies employing up to 100 staff and cut penalty rates for weekends and public holidays.

Yesterday, Barkers Vale woman Silvana Todorovic marched in the Lismore protest in support of the National Day of Action.

"I came to the protest to say 'no' to John Howard's proposals. I don't want to relive the past. We already have workers' rights in place and to have them undermined is a gross indecency," she said.

Ms Todorovic believed protesting would make a difference.

"We are representing the solidarity amongst Australian workers, and we're letting everybody in the community know what's really going," she said.

"Howard will destroy the workforce of Australia and make us second best."

Prime Minister John Howard said opposition to the workplace reforms could not be measured by the turnout at such protests.

He added: "There have been absurd exaggerations, scaremongering claims, made about these changes which in the fullness of time will be proved wrong."

The Senate inquiry's report will be submitted to the

Upper House on November 22.

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