Big Six campaign

Three big disputes

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 10:54

Bob Carnegie

The most important industrial disputes that I’ve been involved in were the 1985 SEQEB (South East Queensland Electricity Board) dispute; the maritime dispute of 1998; and the 63-day Queensland Children’s Hospital construction workers’ dispute of 2012, after which I had a long battle against both criminal charges and litigation for civil damages.

A more important strike that I had a little bit to do with was the British miners’ strike of 1984-1985. The Seamen’s Union of Australia in those days put on a complete ban on any coal to go to Britain during the strike. Not one ounce of Australian

The political journey to Trotskyism

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 10:36

Bob Carnegie

I always had a strong underlying humanist bias. I tended not to view things not just from an ideological viewpoint, as was the rule in the SPA [Socialist Party of Australia, a “hardline” pro-USSR split-off from the Communist Party of Australia]. My moral break from authoritarian state-capitalism, or Stalinism, which still infects the Australian left and the Australian trade union movement to a much larger degree than people realise, took a long time. I would say it took from 1979, when I joined the SPA, to the final break in about 1994.

The last five years has been my great political growing

Early years in the movement

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 09:20

<b>Looking back, the watershed moment of the modern Australian labour movement was really 1975. The Governor-General sacked the reforming Labor government and put in the conservatives under Malcolm Fraser to govern instead. Workers organised a huge surge of strikes and demonstrations in response; but the union leaders limited and deflected the movement. After that, the left-wing ferment of Australia’s early 1970s subsided quite fast, thought the trade union movement remained strong. You would have been in your early teens then. Do you remember what you made of it?</b>

I remember my father

Hutchison: fighting for jobs, 2015

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 08:55

Within days of Bob taking office as MUA Queensland secretary, the union faced a major dispute. On 6 August 2015, Hutchison, the world’s biggest container operator, summarily sacked half their workforce in their Brisbane and Sydney terminals, 97 workers out of 194. The sacked workers ran a 24/7 protest line at the Brisbane and Sydney terminals, with the support of the workers not sacked, who were called in for minimal working hours but handled very little traffic.

After 102 days of bitter struggle, the workers did not win a complete victory, but pushed Hutchison back considerably. They won

Fighting for workers’ rights

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 08:37

Bob Carnegie and Martin Thomas

Below is an article from Workers’ Liberty Australia, jointly written by Bob and Martin Thomas, setting out ideas at the beginning of the battle against WorkChoices, in 2005.

In 2005, John Howard set out plans to bring in anti-union legislation more drastic than former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ever attempted in one instalment, and arguably more drastic than the sum total of the whole long series of laws introduced by Thatcher’s government through the 1980s.

The legislation — “WorkChoices” — was pushed through. A large union campaign against it limited its use and got it

The importance of democracy

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 08:12

Bob Carnegie

Bob wrote about the dispute at the Queensland Children’s Hospital construction site in 2012. The hospital is now named the Lady Cilento Hospital.


Construction workers recently won an eight-week strike at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. There’s a greater spirit of militancy in the industry now than for some years. The current Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) campaign has been met with strong employer resistance [EBAs are the main form of collective agreement in Australian industry]. The renewal of some of the four-year agreements have been met with a much stronger

Comrade Hand Grenade

Published on: Thu, 13/07/2017 - 07:48

Bill Hunt

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute by Bill Hunt to Bob Carnegie in 2008 when Bob decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites.


By now many if not most of our members will be aware that Bob Carnegie is no longer an organiser with the BLF Bob has a job with Grocon as a peggy [site cleaner] and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the rank and file.

Bob Carnegie was born to unionism. His father was a seaman who brooked no bullshit from anyone and was

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