From gays at work to union pride

From the beginning, LGBTI workers knew that our rights at work not only were worth fighting for, but had to be fought for. From Gay Liberation joining the May Day Committee in 1974 to the Gay Teachers and Students Group’s formation in 1975; from the peak union body’s push for anti-discrimination legislation to the Plumbers Union statement, “Homosexual discrimination is an industrial issue and has to be fought on that basis”, unions and their members have a proud history of standing up for LGBTI rights.

Now, thanks to the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, the Council’s history project has displayed some of that struggle in a great set of illustrations on the walls of the new council annexe.

Featuring the Victorian Gay Trade Unionist contingent marching on May Day along with details of CFMEU action supporting students at Deakin University, the early stand of the Teachers Union (now AEU) and a number of blue collar unions, the display is a fitting tribute to those early struggles.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council and ACTU also took a principled position over the AIDS epidemic – taking a strong stand against AIDS hysteria and opposing discrimination in the workplace.

Also reminding us that the struggle hasn’t ended, it details the union contingents that march in the annual Pride March and union support for the Equal Love campaign, as well as LGBTI contingents marching against Howard’s hated WorkChoices legislation.