Street closure to send message

Absolute solidarity: Clarence Valley politicians turned out to a rally in Market Square on Saturday to show their support for local Telstra workers who may lose their jobs this week.
Absolute solidarity: Clarence Valley politicians turned out to a rally in Market Square on Saturday to show their support for local Telstra workers who may lose their jobs this week.

PRINCE Street traders will close their doors at 11am today in an act of Grafton solidarity.

The decision to take this drastic action was made to send a final message to Telstra that it must keep its Grafton call centre open.

Grafton Chamber of Commerce president Jeremy Challacombe said closing down Prince Street today was another very public way of showing Telstra it was making a bad decision.

It follows a mass rally at Market Square on Saturday in which hundreds of people turned out to show their support for the Telstra workers whose jobs are hanging by a thread.

Mr Challacombe said the Grafton Chamber of Commerce spent most of Saturday approaching all the businesses in Prince Street seeking their support – and he wasn't disappointed.

He said today's closure of the main street was an indication of strong support of the call centre's retention and would help reinforce the community's message to Telstra that it was not okay to axe regional jobs.

“If the closure of the call centre goes ahead, the multiplier effect will see even more than the 108 jobs go – that's a real concern,” Mr Challacombe said.

“Tomorrow's street closure is a show of force. We as a community will not allow this to be done to us and just walk away from it.”

Mr Challacombe said after the shops on Prince Street closed at 11am, protesters would make their way to the intersection of Prince and Fitzroy streets where the march would begin.

He said the marchers would make their way north down Prince Street toward the Clocktower, then back again to where they began.

The public is being encouraged to join the marchers.

Mr Challacombe said Telstra was expected to make a decision on the closure tomorrow and today was probably the public's last chance to have their say.

Today's march follows Saturday's Market Square rally which united Telstra workers, union officials, politicians and the general public to try to stop the call centre's closure.

The crowd heard from several speakers including four local Telstra workers.

Community and Public Sector Union assistant national secretary Louise Persse travelled from Melbourne to attend the rally.

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