Bob Carnegie has been at the heart of every major workers' struggle in Brisbane, Australia, for more than three decades
By trade, he is a seafarer. In 1985 his activities in solidarity with the South East Queensland Electricity Board workers, sacked en masse by the right-wing state government in a dispute over privatisation, got him arrested nine times and jailed for three weeks.
From 1984-92 he was co-chair of Queensland Unions Against Apartheid, and from 1995 to 2009 convenor of the Workers' Civil Rights campaign. From 1994 and through the 1998 dispute, when one of Australia's two major port employers, Patricks, sacked all its port workers in a bid to break the union, he was South Queensland full-time organiser for the Maritime Union of Australia, which covers seafarers and port workers.
In 1998 he resigned from his full-time union job because he could not support the deal to end the dispute, which saved the union but made it complicit in large-scale job losses and casualisation.
He found work in construction, then from 2004 to 2008 worked as a full-time organiser for the Builders Labourers Federation.
In 2008 he resigned his full-time job to go back on the sites. In 2010 he was excluded from a job on a gas exploration rig off Western Australia (by the company putting him on a "no-fly" list for air transport to the rig) because of victories he had won on the rig over safety at work.
In August-October 2012, while off work because of back injuries, he was asked by workers on the Queensland Children's Hospital to help them in a strike (for a site agreement, to level up pay and conditions and protect employees of sub-contractors who went bust) in which all their union representatives had accepted court orders to stay away from the site. He helped lead that strike to victory; then the main contractor brought 54 separate criminal charges against him, and a civil case for damages.
The contractor dropped the charges and the civil case only after a long campaign, in which big building sites in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne stopped work several times.
Bob, unable to work in his trade because of his back injuries, has recently worked for the National Union of Workers to help cleaners, catering staff, and other civilian workers in military bases in northern Queensland organise.