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 Frank Finch describes how Norwegian ships taught you how to be a good seaman and how they had no union culture. He discovered unionism on American ships, and then on Australian ships. The wharfies had the usual, continuous struggle against the ship owners. He joined the union in 1948 and there were many shore worker strikes. If they swore during union meetings, they had to put money in a tin. The cooks would play up a lot, as they had their own union. Melbourne was one of the toughest waterfronts in the world. He shares plenty of anecdotes about seafaring life with many of the characters.
Picture and sound quality is low given low budget production.
Author: J Bird, 2023