The Guardian 14 December, 2005

Worth Cycling For

Pedal power joined the Your Rights At Work campaign on a 350km journey to take a message to Canberra's politicians. Sydney bus driver Narelle Sinclair was so worried about the Howard Government's industrial relations reforms that she got on her bike and rode from Sydney to Canberra.

She was joined by over 50 other riders on the road; taking the message to the nation's capital: rights at work are worth fighting for.

Ms Sinclair is no stranger to riding long distances for a good cause.

In May 2005, she organised a bike ride from Sydney to Melbourne to raise money for CanTeen, a national support organisation for young people living with cancer.

"I have become more and more anxious about the proposed reforms to our industrial system", she said before the riders departed from Parramatta on a steamy Saturday last month. "If the Howard Government is successful in dismantling the industrial system who will then protect our conditions and who will ensure there is a fair safety net in place for Australian workers."

Battling 35 degree heat, the riders headed off for the first stage, travelling 150 kilometres on the steady climb to Moss Vale.

They were accompanied on the road by a support team in the distinctive, orange Unions NSW Your Rights At Work tour bus.

"The bus kept me honest", says Dan Walton, who at 22 was one of the youngest riders on the tour.

"I remember riding up a hill about 80 kilometres out of Sydney and another rider came past and asked how old I was.

"When I told him I was 22 he said 'I'm 68, you'll be all right' and then he powered on past!"

For Dan Walton, everyone helping each other out embodied the spirit of the ride. The Your Rights At Work slogan "Stronger Together" became a living motto shared by all the participants.

"If a rider stopped for any reason no one passed without offering help", said Bob Carcary from the Electrical Trades Union. "It was a pleasure to be able to support the cause and to help others who needed support.

"It was such a good ride I wished we could keep going."

The riders came from a wide range of unions and occupations, including electricians, construction workers, police officers, teachers and fire fighters, even being joined by federal Labor member for Parramatta, Julie Owen.

They were greeted along the way by union activists at stopovers in Moss Vale, Goulburn and Queanbeyan and received support from passing motorists.

After four days the riders arrived at Parliament House in Canberra.

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