A surging procession of multicoloured union flags and big umbrellas marched through the Wollongong CBD on Saturday morning as workers and advocates united against government funding cuts.
Led by the Illawarra Pipe Band and the sound of their bagpipes and with a fire truck and a van emblazoned with posters protesting cuts to the health sector bringing up the rear, the annual May Day march made its way through the streets, to finish in front of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.
There was much on the agenda this year, with speakers addressing the potential privatisation of TAFE, universities and hospitals, current climate-change policy, the possibility of increasing the pension age to 70 and cuts to education funding.
The march came just two days after the Commission of Audit recommended the federal government introduce a series of harsh reforms across various sectors in the upcoming budget.
South Coast May Day committee president and Maritime Union of Australia southern NSW branch secretary Garry Keane said the report had bolstered numbers at the march as people voiced their displeasure with it.
"To get the roll up we did when it was a heavy cold snap is indicative of the fact people are concerned and did come out," he said. "It's a workers' day and a chance to protest with our feet."
"[The audit] definitely led to the numbers we had and people are scared. It may not have been the budget, but it's the roadmap to where they intend on going."