APAP, George (1939 – 2019)
Trade unionist. Educated Gharb Gozo Public School. Came to Australia August 1953. At the age of 20 began working on the Melbourne wharves for ANL , job delegate. When the first 20 tonne crane was introduced to the docks in Melbourne in the 1960’s he refused to allow a demonstration for the Minister of Transport (Menzies government) for safety reasons. In late 1950’s there were weekly strikes due to the Hurses (father and son wharfies who were DLP members who refused to pay union levy) – all the wharfies walked out when they went on a ship – case eventually went to High Court where unions won right to levy members – he had to organise the local Melbourne strikes. In 1967 ANL upgraded the exhaust systems and wanted to get rid of the ‘puffer man’ (tested in holds of ships for fumes from cars and trucks) – he addressed the workers on the safety aspects and this led to strike which delayed ships – he won the case. Joined ALP in 1960, 1965 President of the Young Labor at Broadmeadows sub-branch, helped in election campaigning and fund-raising – organised a dance that got attendance of 1,000 a week. November1969 became organiser for the Storemen and Packers Union. During a 6 month period there were 32 stoppages at SeaTainer, he successfully resolved this dispute. In January 1973 went to SA for 2 weeks to review the operation of the SA Branch and sort out their financial problems’ was asked to stay on by the Committee of Management – refused appointed but went to election for position of Secretary and won with 84% of the vote; increased membership from 1,200 to 3,000 in 18 months; started with debts of $12,000 which increased to assets of $1million when he left 20 years later. 1974 campaigned for 35 hour week at Ad Oil Refinery Port Stanvac, on strike for 3½ weeks and SA ran out of fuel – he had to have a 24 hour police guard; won dispute and were first group of workers to get 35 hour week. Led 1976 wool store dispute that went for 6 weeks, ran a 24 hour picket for duration of dispute – farmers threatened to do work in the wool store; dispute won. In 1973, with Ron Barclay (q.v.) started the May Day Committee with the first march taking place in 1974. In August 1975 was part of a five person delegation for the ACTU to visit Athens for 3 weeks – this was 12 months after the junta had thrown out trade unions and they were helping to rebuild trade unions in Greece, he marched with 500,000 workers in Athens against Franco’s political killings in Spain. Joined the Peace committee in early 1980’s. From 1980 was union rep for Correctional Services Board on Community Orders. In 1985 went to the Philippines for a 5 day visit to trade unions, donating money and giving Australian support to the Nestles strike where workers had been on strike for 12 months – he organised Australian wharf workers to ban containers being unloaded and helped to win the strike – he was carried on the shoulders of workers throughout the Philippine factory. On ALP Executive 1978-87, held positions of Junior VP (1986), Senior VP (1987) – he was the only person never to be President from the position of Senior VP – he was expelled from the ALP in 1988 for challenging Premier Bannon for not doing enough for workers and for criticizing the Hawke leadership. In 1995 stood for a Federal seat for the Greens. Member of the UTLC Executive 1975-83, President UTLC 1981/82. Retired December 1992 and hhe was very active in community until his death on 3 May 2019.