Let’s Make Unions – and History – Everyday
Dr Howard Guille
Alex Macdonald Lecture 2021
Wednesday 26 May 2021 5.30pm for 6.00pm
Making unions’ needs an organising model. And so does making history. The better organising models promote self- organisation, self-reliance, self-initiative, respect, participation and activism. The most effective models will include the political lessons of mobilisation. History comes into all of these; history is a big snowball of stories of the past that roll into the present.
The practical purpose of the lecture is to ask how community and civil society organisations including unions might marshal to organise history and what kind of assistance public agencies such as education, cultural and planning institutions can best provide. One question is whether there is an opportunity for a Public History agency to orchestrate everyday debate, mourning and celebration of the past to inform the struggles of the present.
The approach stems from disaffection with the ‘official’ Heritage framework. The failure of the Queensland Heritage Council to protect the University of Queensland Student Union Complex deepened this. Official Heritage seems most concerned with the safe and the respectable and has, by and large, failed to encompass the stories and memories of those who are structurally and socially less powerful. Moreover, the cultural heritage of First Nations is considered entirely separate and separately. An authentic “popular history” needs to be participative, inclusive and progressive and to unite not divide.
Howard Guille worked and taught in Europe and New Zealand before coming to Australia in the mid-1970s. He was the foundation appointment in industrial relations at what became Brisbane CAE. He worked at the Trades and Labour Council of Queensland from 1988 to 1992. He was involved in major projects in restructuring, award restructuring, industrial policy and in trying to combat corporatisation, privatisation and national competition policy.
Howard was the Queensland Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union from 1992 to 2006. He was involved in enterprise bargaining, the Indigenous Stolen Wages Campaign and three Papua New Guinea National Minimum Wage Cases. He was a member of the TLC Executive from 1996 to 2006.
He has undertaken research and written on a wide range of topics. He is an editor of Australian Options and of the Queensland Journal of Labour History. In 2016 and 2017 he co-wrote with Emeritus Professor Roger Scott two monographs for the TJ Ryan Foundation on the performance and prospects of the Palaszczuk Government. Howard’s most recent publication is A Paltry Paradise: a History of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum (2019).
Level 2 TLC Building, 16 Peel Street, South Brisbane