Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CD: Remembering John Cummins

John Cummins was a friend of mine.

More importantly, he was your friend if you were a working person. The thousands who turned out to his funeral last year (below) were eloquent testimony to that.

John was a as game as Ned Kelly in taking on the bosses and the cops, and his stints behind bars meant that he knew what the consequences could be every time he defied the powers that be.

They called John "one of Norm's boys" when he started organising for the Builders Laborers Federation in the early 70s, and the General taught him well.

Comrade Norm Gallagher, the 13 year-old who left school to go labouring, and became Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) and General-Secretary of the Builders Laborers Federation, was indeed probably the toughest trade union leader this country has produced.

John had that toughness, but not to the exclusion of endearing personal qualities that always ensured he never took himself too seriously. That was why we loved him.

John was an internationalist. He was involved in the Australia-China Friendship Society just as he was cutting his teeth as a BLF organiser. They were two sides of the same coin to him. John and I were the babies on one trip to China, in 1974, that included prominent working class veterans like Clarrie O'Shea (Tramways Union) and Ted Bull (Waterside Workers Federation), both from Victoria, and Syd Clare (WWF) from Sydney.

"Who's Vicky Vercka," I once asked John after I'd been caught only half-listening to what he'd been saying.

Another bloke who was with us kindly interposed: "I think John means vice versa."

John just smiled, as if to say "Got you that time!"
You can love a bloke like that.......

On the first anniversary of John's death, musicians Martin Doherty and Leigh Birkett have released a musical tribute to our comrade.

Titled Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win, the 13 tracks are a mix of traditional working class songs from here and overseas, and others like Tribute to John Cummins that are purpose-written for the tribute.

Between some of the tracks, short excerpts from the CFMEU radio show, The Concrete Gang, feature workers reminiscing about Cummo.

This is a great CD, samples of which can be heard here.
The CD can be purchased from CFMEU offices or online from http://www.martindoherty.com.au/ for $25.
The CPA(M-L) has paid tribute to John on the anniversary of his death here in the latest edition of Vanguard.

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