Jock Ferguson: Courage and Determination

The National Secretary wrote to the following letter of condolence to the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union on hearing of the death of labour great Jock Ferguson

Steve McCartney

WA State Secretary


Dave Oliver

National Secretary


Dear Comrades,

Could you please pass on my deepest personal condolences and sympathies along with those of the Maritime Union of Australia and its officers, members and staff to Tina and Jock's family at this time of great sadness.

Like all of Jock's many friends and comrades in the Labour Movement not just in this country but internationally we have been shocked at his sudden passing and hope that our message of condolence and the great respect and love Jock was held in goes some small way in assisting the family through this difficult passage.

Jock was a man of immense good humour that coincided with a great depth of character partly reflected in his life long commitment to the working class and the building of a fairer more equitable and just society and community The principles on which Jock lived his life unerringly placed him in a position of leadership in our movement; a role that he was comfortable and relaxed in due to his great courage and determination to get a result. Jock was never one for the back seat

Jock lived his life the way he saw it, and was straight down the line, his words reflecting a commitment to actions and outcomes. He had little tolerance for anyone not equally as committed.  With Jock at your shoulder on a picket line, or in any tight spot you knew you were going to be okay. This was the case in the Patrick picket line in Fremantle, where in the blackest moments of that struggle with a combination of a corrupted employer in a criminal conspiracy with the Australian Federal Government; certain people stood up at every point, not just politically industrially and financially but also in the face of violence and physical confrontation. Jock was one.

That type of friendship loyalty and courage lies at the heart of what motivates us all to continue to challenge for a better and fairer society and workplace and to ensure that working men and women and their families have their measure of dignity and respect in how we work and how we live.

Like so many working class leaders, Jock came from a hard school.  The shipyards of Glasgow were he did his trade were notorious and like many he found an escape hatch through the merchant navy. In those worlds there was no dignity without principal and no success without unity. Trade unions weren't an option for survival; they lay at the heart of it.  It comes as no surprise then that his trade union career was characterised by such toughness and good humour and why he was so popular with all that knew him.  It was typical of Jock to continue his advocacy for workers into new areas of endeavour and everyone in the movement was immensely supportive when Jock determined to stand for Parliament in 2008. Jock was exactly the type of character all parliaments need. A real person wanting to achieve real things for others.

I was proud to be a mate of Jocks. I was proud to have stood on picket lines with him and be counted amongst those he trusted. My union would not be here today in the way it is without Jocks courage and determination and many like him including many there today. To have travelled with Jock, even part of the way is something I will hold and value the whole of my life.

Vale Jock Ferguson. Worker, leader, husband, father, honourable member and comrade. Now at peace.

Sincerely and in unity