Thousands of workers have joined Labour Day marches around the country to protest looming cuts to the minimum wage.
Workers angry at any cut to the minimum wage have taken to streets around the nation.
Thousands joined Labour Day marches on Sunday, buoyed by a poll saying the federal coalition would be kicked out of office if an election was held now.
But with the next one not due for more than two years, unionists fear the minimum wage will be slashed as recommended by the recent national commission of audit.
Queensland’s Council of Unions president John Battams said if the recommendation to cut the wage from $16 to $12 an hour was adopted, Australian wages would moved into United States territory.
“That would result in a huge pool of working poor in Australia,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
“About one-and-a-half million Australians depend on the minimum wage to actually make ends meet.”
Queensland organisers estimated more than 25,000 people from dozens of different unions took to streets around the state.
State Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said numbers were up and it sent a strong message to the state and federal governments.
“We can sense the winds of change. People are not happy with this government,” she told reporters.
In Brisbane thousands of workers in union T-shirts held placards and chanted slogans as they walked from the CBD to RNA Showgrounds,
Many of the chants were directed at Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, whose government’s huge public sector cuts have put many offside.
“Teachers, cleaners, teacher aides, childcare workers, they’re all being penalised,” said teacher aide Collin Morris, who was concerned about a state plan to outsource school cleaning contracts.
“If they can do it to the cleaners they’ll be getting us on the chopping block next,” he said.
Thousands taking to Sydney’s streets called for premier Mike Baird to back away from privatising NSW’s $30 billion electricity infrastructure.
Marchers chanted a variety of messages but the loudest was a warning to Mr Baird to: “Stop the NSW power sell off”.
Paul Lester from The Electrical Trade Union’s (ETU) was Among those gathered outside parliament house in a show of solidarity was Electrical Trade Union member Paul Lester.
His insistent war cry, “Mike Baird is his name, privatisation is his game” could be heard above bagpipes.
“We all know what you’re about, come next May we will throw you out,” he hollered.
Mr Lester said the march had garnered the best turnout the union movement had seen in years.
“We want to show Mr Baird that no, we do not want power privatisation,” he told AAP.
As treasurer Mr Baird supported privatising the state’s $30 billion worth of electricity infrastructure and has flagged, since becoming premier, seeking a mandate on the issue at the next election.
Among the other issues highlighted at the march were the recent watering down of workers’ compensation and the push to privatise TAFE.
In Melbourne, the cold and wet failed to deter about 5000 protesters.
Organiser Len Cooper said most were expressing fears about the future of their pay and work under the federal government’s current program of change.
“People are pretty edgy about the future of pay, conditions, social conditions, work conditions everything’s up in the air in their minds,” he said.
Protesters also spoke out about the treatment of refugees, changes to Victorian laws concerning protest rights and the dangers of the free trade deals.
The May Day march commemorates the events of May 4, 1886 when trade unionists calling for the eight-hour day in Chicago came under fire, with four demonstrators killed.