Union In The Blood For TWU Vet Clarrie
Release date: 18/01/2017
TWU NSW Branch News
Clarrie Gibbs has a 44 year history with unions and he is a veteran TWU member.
Starting with steam trains in the 1960s for NSW Railways, Clarrie was fitting signal equipment at 15 years old.
It wasn't long before he had joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union. “Virtually every trade had their own unions in those days.”
In 1971, Clarrie was unloading 28 foot pan techs – rigged single-steer bogie trucks – from Melbourne. It’s then that he joined the TWU. Work didn’t start until the trucks arrived at 10am, and they didn’t get paid unless the trucks arrived either. “It got to 10 and in those days… the guys liked to have a drink.”
Clarrie world for BHP Whyalla Steel Works before moving to work for McPhersons in Kensington as an industrial wholesaler, repairing lathes on machinery. He recalled the ‘old school tradies’ nous.
“In those days, when I look back now, some of the things we did were outright dangerous and near impossible. Everything was done by brute force. Five or six guys to break a nut under steam pressure. Five times bigger than the one on your car. No jackhammer. And when it went off, it would go like a shot.”
Clarrie joined TNT in 1984. He recalls quarterly meetings with the TWU in Goulburn. There was a dispute over road tax.
“You weren't allowed in unless you showed your badge… guys joined just so they could have a say in what was going on.”
Only 10 years ago Clarrie was negotiating directly with TNT management over WorkChoices – when 600 trucks made their way down to Canberra to protest industrial relations changes.
Clarrie suspects his grandfather was a union member too, possibly part of the TWU history, the Trolly and Draymen’s Union. He Worked with the Alex Cook Company doing “The Long Run” with six draught horses from Darling Harbour to Kent Road in what’s now Mascot.
Clarrie told NSW TWU News, “My father told me [my grandfather] got kicked in the stomach by one of the horses… they’d just strap it up as tight as they could. So long as he could put his boots on, he was working.”
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