LABOUR exploitation and penalty rates were the main issues raised during the first Labour Day march in Maryborough since 2002.

Together Union member Ian Barber helped organise this year's march and the first one held in 15 years was to increase awareness of unions in the area.

"People still need the unions as much as they did 100 years ago," Mr Barber said.

Labour Day marchers make their way along Bazaar St. in Maryborough.
Labour Day marchers make their way along Bazaar St. in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

About 200 union members from different industries marched from Wharf St to the Maryborough bowls club on Sunday morning, stopping outside the Maryborough City Hall to listen to addresses from Minister for employment and industrial relations Grace Grace and state member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders.

Minister Grace said despite a 15-year gap of the march in Maryborough, the march was still relevant to those in the area.

"Today is a day to think about all of the great stuff that unions have achieved for workers entitlements…and making sure we protect those achievements such as penalty rates," Ms Grace said.

"We also want to be sure we do something about labour hire... to ensure the exploitation stops."


Mr Saunders said exploitation of workers was a "massive issue" in Maryborough.

"We get people through our doors every day who aren't getting paid superannuation… they're getting sacked or getting told not to come to work through text messages," Mr Saunders said.

"How insulting, to be sent a text messages."

During Mr Saunders' speech, he addressed recent comments made about him on social media, calling him a "union thug".

"I'm proud to be a union bloody thug," Mr Saunders told the crowd.

"I'm proud to be a thug because we stand up for workers' rights."