An Australian Merchant Seaman’s Story In His Own Words – Bill Shaddock

Australian Workers Film Guide


Part of a series of interview segments produced by the SUA/MUA in which retired Australian merchant seamen recount their working lives at sea as well as their engagement with union campaigns and activities. Each episode features a seaman, or sometimes a pair of seamen, sharing their story in a largely unstructured and extended interview. They form an important on camera collection of oral histories about Australia’s unionised merchant seamen.

In this episode seaman Bill Shaddock recounts how he started on coastal ships as a deck boy at 15. There was a 12 month probation before he could join the union and the pay was 4 pounds per month. You got a fortnight of leave in 12 months if you were lucky. The officers had different tucker to the seamen and they got new mattresses every 6 months. To get work, they would stand in line and the engineers would choose from the men in line. Today, overseas vessels coming into Australia are cutting out Australian workers.

Bill appears to be an author of a book on seafarers. Unfortunately, the producers do not go into detail about this.

Special Notes/Achievements

Picture and sound quality is low given low budget production.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 29 mins

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Film Director: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Producer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

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Film Cinematographer: Wayne Finch, John Brittain,

Film Editor: Jennie Finch, Jamie McMechan,

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