Bill Marklew

Interviewed by
Rodney Sullivan and Robin Sullivan
Jun 25 2013
Bill Marklew, 2013
Time Summary Keywords

Bill Marklew recalls his childhood and education, including his childhood in a Catholic orphanage in Largs Bay, South Australia, moving around to many different primary schools and expulsion from his first year of high school.

Catholics, South Australia

Bill Marklew discusses his early work experience in an assembly line assembling fluorescent lighting, as well as in a bakery in South Australia.

South Australia, work experience

Bill Marklew discusses his earliest experience with unionism during his time in the Army in Townsville, Queensland. He explains how he received training in crowd dispersal to combat student and union protest.

civil disobedience, Gough Whitlam, John Kerr, protest, student activism, union activism, unions

Bill Marklew speaks of his work experience prior to joining the Army in bakeries and a foundry. He describes his motivation for joining the Army at 18 in 1972.

armed services, Vietnam War, work experience

Bill Marklew recalls his reasons for joining the Public Sector Union (PSU) when working in the telecommunication sector in Townsville. He describes how his Army background and a pay dispute lead to him becoming a Workplace Delegate for the PSU in 1994.

pay dispute, Public Sector Union, telecommunications, Telstra, union delegate

Bill Marklew comments on union membership in Townsville and notes an ongoing decline.

declining union membership, Public Sector Union, Townsville, union membership

Bill Marklew recalls the union positions he has held over his career including Deputy Delegate, Assistant Branch President, State President, Assistant State Secretary and State Secretary. He comments on the circumstances that lead to him being elected State Secretary in 2000.

Claire Moore, Public Sector Union, union positions

Bill Marklew discusses the issues associated with being elected Assistant State Secretary while being based in Townsville rather than Brisbane. He comments that he was the only elected official in far North Queensland and describes how he was able to achieve this through his connections with the Australian Council of Trade Unions Queensland (ACTUQ) of which he was the President.

ACTUQ, North Queensland, Public Sector Union, Townsville, union affiliation

Bill Marklew lists the main industrial issues he encountered throughout his career including the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) dispute and the 'Your Rights at Work' issues during the Howard Government.

Howard Government 1996-2007, industrial disputes, MUA dispute, union campaigns, Your Rights at Work

Bill Marklew describes his involvement with the MUA dispute including coordinating the picket line at the Townsville wharves in his capacity as regional president of the ACTUQ. He mentions that dealing with the National Farmers' Federation was important in regional areas.

ACTUQ, MUA dispute, National Farmers' Federation, Public Sector Union, Townsville

Bill Marklew talks about his impressions of the outcome of the MUA dispute. He describes the dispute resolution as a win despite the loss of many jobs. He explains the importance of the dispute in creating solidarity between the community and various unions which was important for the Your Rights at Work dispute.

industrial disputes, MUA dispute, Public Sector Union, union solidarity, Your Rights at Work

Bill Marklew speaks about job cuts in the federal public service under the Howard Government in 1996-97. He describes the Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) and the Queensland Workplace Agreements (QWAs) and how they created pay discrepancies between workers.

AWAs, Borbidge Government 1996-98, Howard Government 1996-2007, Public Sector Union, QWAs

Bill Marklew describes how he assisted members during the early Howard Government years in his capacity as the President of the PSU. He describes the uniqueness of Queensland, having to organise multiple regional conferences to allow maximum participation.

AWAs, Public Sector Union, QWAs

Bill Marklew describes the Your Rights at Work Campaign. He describes the wide base of support for the campaign.

Greg Combet, Public Sector Union, Your Rights at Work

Bill Marklew comments on the increase in union solidarity during the Your Rights at Work Campaign.

Public Sector Union, union solidarity, Your Rights at Work

Bill Marklew talks about the effects of the Your Rights at Work Campaign on Union membership. He describes a growth in support that did not translate to a growth in union membership.

union membership, Your Rights at Work

Bill Marklew describes his experiences with demarcation disputes. He explains how these disputes arose and how the PSU dealt with them.

demarcation disputes, Public Sector Union, telecommunications, Telstra

Bill Marklew lists the union personnel who have made an impression on him and describes why.

Claire Moore, Doug Cameron, Greg Combet, Jenny George, Stephen Jones

Bill Marklew comments on his increasing political involvement and the union movement. He describes his involvement with council politics in Thuringowa, Townsville. He comments on the CPSU affiliation with the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

CPSU, local government, Townsville, union affiliation

Bill Marklew describes the relationship with the the CPSU and the ALP and its involvement with proposing ALP policy.

abortion, CPSU, LGBTI issues, marriage equality, policy development

Bill Marklew comments on CPSU involvement with environmental issues.

CPSU, environment issues, Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN), workplace safety

Bill Marklew discusses CPSU membership density.

CPSU, declining union membership, union membership

Bill Marklew comments on the decline in union membership. He suggests that more education about union achievements is needed.

declining union membership, Eddie Mabo, industrial disputes

Bill Marklew describes his experience with Indigenous members and issues. He comments that more needs to be done on Indigenous issues. He describes the ongoing relationship between unions and the Indigenous community.

Indigenous issues, union membership

Bill Marklew describes the differences in workplaces in North Queensland and in the cities. He comments on the influence this has on the role of unions.

North Queensland

Bill Marklew comments on the greater militancy of the grass roots level of unions. He describes the financial and political implications of militancy on the union and individuals.

grass roots unionism, union militancy

Bill Marklew reflects on his biggest disappointments with his union involvement. He describes his disappointment with being unable to help grass roots members promptly.

grass roots unionism, unions

Bill Marklew comments on his most satisfying moments in the union movement. He mentions the MUA dispute success in 1998 as a moment of euphoria.

MUA dispute

Interview ends