Bill Mansfield RIP

A belated tribute to Bill Mansfield (1942-2011), Australian trade unionist, ACTU official and Industrial Relations Commission judge, who died earlier this year.   Elected federal secretary of the Australian Telecommunications Employees Association (ATEA), the main union of technical telecommunications staff, at a young age in 1977, Mansfield was one of a generation of Australian union leaders who were progressive, modern, reasonable, anti-Luddite, and very intelligent.    I had the good fortune to meet him and to hear him speak on several occasions, once at a seminar on the drivers and consequences of technological change;  it was clear that most managements would be out-smarted by him, and many foiled by his integrity, his willingness to engage in reasoned argument, and his integrity-of-purpose.  In the 1970s, the ATEA and its fellow communications unions ran a long-running and ultimately successful campaign seeking to get the management of Telstra (as the organization is now called) merely to have discussions with the unions about new technologies, their impacts, and their deployment; it was indicative of the belligerent stupidity of the management of the time that they sought to introduce new technologies without prior discussion with the affected workforce because management feared the workforce would be opposed.
There are tributes to him from his ACTU colleagues here and from Senator Doug Cameron here.

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