Labour Day marchers call to keep penalty rates

AS far as weddings go, Mark Cowan and Debbie Ellis's nuptials drew one heck of a crowd.

The couple married in front of 25,000 people on Sunday.

The Electrical Trades Union delegates kicked off Queensland's Labour Day March by tying the knot in front of a bunch of strangers and some familiar faces including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Education Minister Kate Jones, Health Minister Cameron Dick, Police and Emergency Services Minister Jo-Ann Miller, Leader of the House Stirling Hinchliffe and Federal MP Wayne Swan.

The march kicked off at the corner of Wharf and Turbot streets in Brisbane about 10am and ended at the RNA Showground two-and-a-half hours later.

Participants used the event to call on the Federal Government to keep weekend penalty rates.

The event - the first Labour Day since Ms Palaszczuk's Labor team gave Campbell Newman's LNP Government the boot - was especially symbolic for organisers.

Queensland Council of Unions president John Battams said the previous state government tried to "shut down" Queensland's union movement.

"The LNP government attacked a lot of people in Queensland including the union movement and they tried to shut us down," he said before the march.

"They tried to shut our anti-privatisation campaign down ... so we are going to celebrate long and hard today with our families that we got rid of a really bad government."

Mr Battams said Sunday's event was a chance to celebrate past employment victories like minimum wages, penalty rates and worker's compensation.

It is 99 years since the first Labour Day march was held in Barcaldine in 1891 and organisers are expecting a massive turn out for that event which will be held on Labour Day in May.

Labour Day events have been held around the state over the past week.

- APN NEWSDESK


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