Celebration of the Life of Tas Bull

Australian Workers Film Guide


Funeral and tribute video for Tas Bull, legendary trade unionist, internationalist, socialist and General Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation from 1984 to 1993.

The video commences with footage of two thousand people participating in a funeral procession on what the waterside workers called the ‘Hungry Mile’, a section of the Sydney waterfront that witnessed worker exploitation, hunger and industrial strife during the Depression years. 

A poem is read as the casket is brought into the hall, which is followed by one minute’s silence. National secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, Paddy Crumlin, conducts the service, speaking about Bull’s life as a seaman and unionist. Friend and retired seaman John Cleaver speaks of Bull’s integrity and legendary capacity for friendships all around the world. Dr. Alf Liebhold talks about his loss of faith in politicians and the need to listen to men of integrity such as Bull, a man with a wide-angle lens of the world on human rights and dignity.

John Coombs, former National Secretary of the MUA., talks of Bull’s love of people, while his son Anders Bull speaks of his father’s love of the union movement and causes such as the Cuban children’s hospital. Organising Workers graduate, Sally McManus, talks of Bull’s contribution to training over 400 people to become better union organisers and refers to Bull as a true unionist and working class hero. 

An emotional Greg Combet, Secretary of the ACTU, talks of his deep regard for Bull, a father like figure who inspired him and influenced his politics and values more than any other person, noting that the big send off is only comparable to Jim Healy’s in 1961. Former General Secretary of the ITF talks of his best friend’s straight talking friendship, which is followed by a pre-recorded video interview in which Bull talks about how the Seamen’s Union and the Waterside Workers Federation were strong and respected unions, due to internal discipline, unity and internationalism. In another interview, an unknown individual speaks of Bull’s internationalism and how he helped make the Waterside Federation Union the best docking union in the world, which could always rely on international support. The service concludes with the Trade Union Choir singing Solidarity Forever.

Special Notes/Achievements

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 28 mins

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