'Green Light' To Climate Strike: Victorian Public Servants Allowed To Walk Out
Public servants across Melbourne will be able to attend this week's climate strike, upping the already massive number of protesters expected at rallies across the country.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday followed the lead of thousands of businesses, schools, and universities with the decision to let government employees attend Friday's protests, which form part of a global movement demanding climate change action.
In an email to staff from Industrial Relations Victoria -- seen by The Age -- management said "a number" of the state's public servants were expected to join the protest, and could apply for leave or seek "flexibility around hours" to attend.
The Premier's department has also signalled support for school students who intend on striking.
Friday's event, just days out from the United Nations' emergency climate summit in New York, will see ordinary workers and adults join the huge School Strike For Climate.
Rallies are planned for countless cities worldwide; in Australia, there will be major events in all capital cities, and nearly 90 smaller cities and towns.
In Melbourne, protesters will gather at Treasury Gardens at 2pm, marching from Collins Street towards Exhibition Street, before making their way down Flinders Street.
The Greens last week called on Andrews to ensure no public servants would be penalised for taking part in the strike.
“The Government should no longer be under any illusion – we are currently in the midst of a climate emergency," Leader of the Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam said in a statement.
On Tuesday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was asked if she was planning on following Andrew's lead and allow public servants in her own state to attend rallies.
In a long-winded way of saying 'no', Palaszczuk told Parliament while she supports the right of workers to protest, strikes should be held "after hours or on your lunch break".
Australian employers have turned out in droves to support their workers' right to attend local rallies during business hours.
More than 1,800 companies across the globe have signed up to the Not Business As Usual campaign, where firms pledge to give their employees the opportunity to attend local events as part of the global climate strike.
Numerous universities have taken the same stance with their students, with some Sydney cohorts -- including the University of Notre Dame and Sydney University -- even complaining about "politically unfair" pressure from academic staff to attend the strike.
Across the ditch in New Zealand, the University of Auckland is the only university in the country not supporting the strike.
The School Strike for Climate initiative has three key demands for parliament: no new coal, oil and gas projects, including the Adani mine; 100 percent renewable energy generation by 2030; and funds to help workers from fossil fuel industries transition into new jobs.
The last strike of this kind saw 1.6 million hit the streets around the world in March.
At the time, a 16-year-old Sydney student Daisy Jeffrey told 10 daily she and her classmates would continue to protest until the government adhered to their demands.
"I would love to be able to stop doing this, I'd love to not cut class, I like doing well at school," she said.
"We'll stop when we feel appropriate action has been taken and we feel our politicians are adequately meeting our needs for the future generation, for our generation."