Paddy Crumlin Letter: Vale Lou Guihenneuc

A letter from Paddy Crumlin to Mark Jones: 

Dear Comrade

Can you please pass on my deepest condolences and sympathies on behalf of myself and the members officers and staff of the MUA and all affiliated unions of the ITF to Lou’s wife Roslyn, Alan and Lou and Carol and Marie and their families. I was reflecting on Lou’s remarkable life with Alan this morning and the extraordinary passage of experience  it contained. He reflected the finest of qualities that set his generation of seafarers and unionists in the highest regard they are held in not only in this country but around the world.  He was courageous, principled , unwavering and passionate about his work  his political and industrial beliefs. A man of family in a job that often kept them a part from him. A man of peace shaped by war. A committed unionist in the face of a life time of prejudice and confrontation . A labour activist and worker that was seen to embody the essential values of the labour movement and his Labor Party of which he was a life member. An understated bloke in spite of his great achievements and person of immense humour and good will. 

I was talking to Bill Shorten also today about Lou and the great friendship and comradeship he shared with Bert Nolan, Bill’s uncle.

Bill reckoned that Lou would have wanted his message as leader and on behalf of the ALP side by side with mine on behalf of the MUA and ITF.

It is as follows:

Please relay my deepest condolences to Lou’s family friends and comrades at his funeral today on behalf of the Australian Labor Party of which he was an honoured and greatly respected life member

I met Lou through my uncle Bert. He was staunch through and through, coming from a generation of seafarers who lived through war. That life saw many comrades lost to the unseen enemy in the open seas and their sacrifice and courage cannot be overstated. Lou was the embodiment  of the importance of Australian merchant seafarers in particular to the national interest and future of this country.

Lou and Bert were constantly catching up with each other at the MUA stop work meetings on the last Tuesday of every month testament to his and their unwavering commitment to seafarers and maritime workers and  their greatly loved SUA and MUA.

Sincerely and with deepest sympathies

Bill Shorten


Lou and Bert were members of the firemen’s club of course and formed a friendship based on loyalty, trade union activity and progressive political leadership. Lou spent his whole working life at sea from joining a ship at age 14 in Melbourne right through to the early 1990’s . Terry Cahill a scouser and fellow greaser  was a great mate of his on the Wiltshire, and it was aways a great pleasure when the ship was in Botany to go down there as a young branch official to drink tea and talk unionism, politics and family. He was good comrades with so many seafarers and was greatly respected by all that sailed with him for his work ethic, skills and company, even engineers. The great stresses of sailing in an Atlantic Convoy as a young teenager, a child really, and the experience of shipping out around North America, The UK and Europe after the war shaped the Lou we knew. He coped and thrived through those experience through an enormous  generosity of character and spirit. Mark Jones and I were reading his reminiscence   of those days when he returned there in retirement, particularly his time  in New Orleans as a member of the Marine Fireman Oilers and Watersiders union in the US. The racial segregation was particularly striking to Lou and also shaped his great commitment to a life against any form of exploitation and discrimination

I grew up and old as a trade unionist in his company , particularly at the Melbourne stop work meetings with him, Bert and Billy Dean eyeballing me from the front row on every detail of every report.  

They represent the best our union has. Constant  involvement, unwavering and constructive support and commitment and hearts as big as lions. It’s why our union remains one of  the greatest in the world and why  we will see off the scoundrels in Federal Government  that are  traitors to Australian workers in general and Australian seafarers and maritime workers in particular who have dedicated their life to this country and their profession in war and in peace. Just like Lou would have done and wanted

Again I join with Bill Shorten and all the members of the MUA and ITF in conveying our deepest sympathies to Lou’s family in particular

Vale Lou Guehenneuc.  Friend and comrade. Man of family. Fighter for peace and justice.

Now at rest


Paddy Crumlin 

National Secretary MUA

International Transport Workers Federation President


Download a copy of the letter here