Profile of a union organiser

Hutchison text sacking a wharfie

In the lead up to the 2019 May Day celebrations we take a look at what it is like being a union organiser.

Paul Petersen was a wharfie for 12 years and then went to sea. He then took on the role of being a union organiser.

Listen to this explanation given by Paul of his job during the 2015 Hutchinson’s  dispute when 97 wharfies were sacked by text message at the port of Brisbane in August 2015:

Paul has followed in the footsteps of other rank and file wharfies and taken a stance on social issues like the “No Mandatory Detention” for asylum seekers in hell holes like Manus and Nauru.

Coppers pushing Paul and others off the picket line at Wilson’s who detained refugees on Nauru. Paul is holding the Shut Down Nauru poster.

At times organisers have to take positions on contentious issues within their own union. For example the MUA is a part of the CFMMEU which covers coal miners. Yet Paul recently came out against the Adani coal mine in central Queensland stating:

I see transition for workers away from thermal coal into renewable energy as the priority. (fb page). His position is not popular in some quarters.

CFMEU in Clermont

This video illustrates Paul Petersen showing solidarity with workers at a court case where Australia’s largest coal freight operator, Aurizon, has slapped a suit of $375,000 on anti-coal activists.

Paul has to represent his union on social issues like peace.

Paul Petersen for MUA at Just Peace rally.jpg
“You kept me up all night practising this speech, Paul” says yawning dog — with Paul Petersen.
Paul Petersen for MUA

MUA Qld Division elections
Contrary to what we read in the mainstream press unions are democratic institutions that have regular elections. Here is an example of Paul’s campaign for re-election as Qld Assistant Branch Secretary.

Educate, Agitate, Organise is not an easy job!

We wish you good luck in the elections, Paul.

Ian Curr
Editor, Workers BushTelegraph
3 May 2019

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