On Friday 6 December 2019, I was awarded honorary life membership of the Queensland and Northern Territory Electrical Trades Union (ETU) for a working life which has at several critical moments intersected with supporting the ETU, its members, and their families.
It is the first time in the branch’s 104 year history it has awarded honorary membership to anyone other than an ETU member.
In 1985, I was arrested nine times for supporting the ETU after 1,007 members working in the state owned electrical distribution network were sacked by a reactionary state government and replaced by scabs.
I spent 22 days in maximum security prison as I refused to sign bail conditions that stated I could not go within 200 metres of a SEQEB [South East Queensland Electricity Board] workplace.
I was charged and convicted of four counts of assaulting police on picket lines. That included a bodily harm conviction after a cop broke his hand punching me in the head!
I think also in 1985 I was the last trade unionist in Australia who had bailiffs storm into his home demanding confiscation of personal goods, a TV, lounge, bed, etc., to pay fines relating to an industrial dispute.
It happened at 6am on a Friday morning, I’ll never forget their eagerness to take a few possessions from a young worker. F...king scum!