Former Prime Minister John Howard remained in high spirits on Thursday, hardly shaken as a NSW Police escort guided him through a crowd of vocal union protesters rallying against cuts to penalty rates in Sydney's CBD.
Howard had been at a conference on Pitt Street before being confronted by the protest group, who booed and shouted at him while holding up Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) banners.
The former Liberal Party leader had been shocked by the crowd before NSW Police officers "came to the rescue" and moved him away, a spokesperson for Howard said according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the harrassment of Howard by the CFMEU group, calling the union protesters "thuggish".
The CFMEU had organised multiple rallies in major cities around the nation on Thursday to protest the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), cuts to penalty rates and reduced job security, in what they call an "attack" on Australian workers.
The union later responded to the incident in a statement released on Thursday.
"John Howard walked into the Sydney rally today that was part of the National Day of Action by unions protesting against the ABCC and cuts to penalty rates. The rally was peaceful, but loud," it said.
"From the footage we have seen, it appears some protesters made their views known to Mr Howard about anti worker laws he introduced while Prime Minister as a result of which, he lost an election and his seat."
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