Workers’ Liberty supporter Bob Carnegie has been elected to the Queensland Branch Secretary position of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) in this year’s Quadrennial elections. Bob assumes office for a four year term on 1 July.
Bob was one of four challengers for the position vacated by retiring incumbent Mick Carr. Bob was defeated at the last MUA Quadrennial elections of 2011 by Carr by only two votes (504 to 506).
This time around, Bob won easily with a margin of fifty votes. The final tally was Bob with 315 votes, former Queensland Deputy Secretary Trevor Munday with 265 votes, seafarer Brian Gallagher with 170 votes, and “wharfie” (docker) Steve Cumberlidge with 116 votes.
Bob’s running mate Paul Petersen, who ran for the Queensland Assistant Branch Secretary spot, was not so fortunate. Paul, an outspoken delegate who was sacked by stevedoring company Patrick in 2009, was beaten by Paul Gallagher (446 votes to 319) with the other challenger Mark Maguire running a distant third.
The Queensland Assistant Branch Secretary position was easily won by current MUA Gladstone organiser Jason Miners, who beat his opponent Mark Keech by 588 votes to 277.
Bob started his campaign early on March 7, just one day after nominations had opened, with visits to worksites in the north of Queensland. Bob’s campaign saw him make several visits to numerous workplaces dotted up and down Queensland’s 2,000 km (1,250 mile) long coastline.
Bob also published a four-page newsletter which was sent to every MUA member in Queensland. The newsletter outlined his policies for turning the MUA Queensland Branch into a genuine rank-and-file organisation.
Policies included more regular visits to job sites by elected officials.
Full and effective defence of any MUA delegate faced with the sack; an unwavering fight against casualisation; pushing for a 30-hour week with no loss in pay in the stevedoring sector (which is facing massive job losses due to automation); and genuine union democracy, including the rotation of elected officials so that they serve no more than two four-year terms in the same position.
Bob’s sense of working class internationalism saw him interrupt his election campaign to take part in a speaking tour of Britain. Bob spoke in mid-May at over a dozen public meetings and union conferences, including national conferences of the Fire Brigades Union and the Public and Commercial Services Union, along with numerous public meetings with Dave Smith from the Blacklist Support Group.
The employers have already taken note of Bob’s victory. “Workforce Daily”, an employers’ news service from the Thomson Reuters group, has already spoken to Bob. Its 25 June edition refers to Bob as coming from a “lost time of union working-class militancy” and a “very solid revolutionary socialist background” that he is proud of.
The article concluded by saying that Bob believes that “society should be based on human need not human greed”.
Grounded in the working class
Today, Wednesday 1 July, sees me take up office as the Secretary of Maritime Union of Australia Queensland Branch.
My campaign relied on a strong left-wing campaign platform, a 4 page campaign leaflet, a running partner of great integrity in Paul Petersen, and my long time reputation as a fighter for working people’s rights in my home state of Queensland.
I was also fortunate that my political opponents could not contain their desire for office and fielded three candidates against me. The Stalinists could not organise their forces against a single Trotskyist. Ironic don’t you think?
On Friday 26 June at the union’s branch committee I explained that for me, in my life, the single greatest political influence comes from the man I consider the most outstanding of the 20th Century; outstanding political organiser, thinker and revolutionary, military genius, literary critic, and journalist to name just a few of his achievements... I am of course talking of Leon Trotsky.
I would like to thank many people but in particular my partner Melissa, a brilliant and beautiful woman who has been with me through some very tough times. Shane Bentley and Lucy Honey for all their work and support.
Last of all I want to thank Workers’ Liberty’s Martin Thomas. Over the past dozen years Martin has had an enormous influence on my life.
So as I enter my first day in office I will do my very best for MUA members and the working class movement.
I will try to stay grounded in the working class revolutionary movement and strive against opportunism and the dreaded “Big Headitis” many trade union officials fall prey to.