||Issue No. 184||27 June 2003|
To the Victors The Spoils
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
The Story in General
Thinking of America
Brian Miller – Working Class Hero
Brian Miller, a carpenter by trade, became a building industry legend, respected by workers and employers, for his refusal to compromise over workplace safety. He died in Sydney on Tuesday.
When the $60 million Royal Commission, fixated by attempts to halt workplace injuries and deaths, came to town it was inevitable Miller's work would fall under its spotlight.
"The building industry is a dangerous place but Brian's tireless work made it considerably less dangerous than when he started. It's fair to say that Brian Miller's work saved many lives," CFMEU state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, said.
Miller died in Sydney on Tuesday after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
In more than 40 years as a union activist and official, Miller played leading roles in all building worker campaigns of the modern era. He cut his teeth as a site delegate in the 1960s before being elected a fulltime BWIU official in 1973.
Breakthroughs like portable long service leave, the 38 hour week, superannuation, redundancy and licensing of the demolition industry were some of the campaigns he threw his energy into.
Peace and volunteer work were other areas he made his mark in. He was a long-standing peace activist, a driving force behind 150 Sydney building sites - Darling Harbour, the QVB and the Entertainment Centre amongst them - voting to declare themselves peace sites.
He organised volunteer building workers from around the state to assist in the reconstruction of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, and backed up when floods ravaged Nyngan and bushfires tore through Sydney more than 20 years later.
Miller, though, was Mr Safety. He finished his career with the CFMEU as its safety co-ordinator and more than 500 people, from all sections of the building industry, packed a tribute dinner at Souths Leagues Club, last month.
He was the first recipient of Labor Council's occupational health and safety liftetime achievement award that now bears his name.
"Brian was highly respected by workers and employers in the building industry," Ferguson said. "But, when he went onto a site, there was never any doubt about whose interests he was acting in. For that reason he was feared by developers and builders and we make no apology for that."
Ferguson recalled his own survival strategy, starting out as a 22-year-old city organiser. He said he would tell employers Miller was waiting around the corner or, if they didn't do the right thing, that he would call Miller in.
"I did that for the first two years of my career and it worked," Ferguson admitted.
Comrades, family and friends will farewell Miller at a 10am service at Sydney's Convention Centre on Tuesday. Several building sites around the city have already voted to shut down so workers can attend his send off.
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