Long time MUA activist and official Kevin Durnian has been fondly remembered by friends, family and comrades today at his funeral in Queensland.
Kevin, who served as Assistant Branch Secretary in Queensland from 1982 to 1988, passed away recently.
Queensland Branch Secretary Bob Carnegie said Kevin had played a major role during a difficult part of the union’s history, with the 1980s a particularly treacherous time due to the Bjelke-Petersen Government’s systematic undermining of the trade union movement.
"Kevin stood proud and served the working class with great distinction. He lived a full and wonderful life that was always in some way connected to the sea,” Carnegie said.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin, who couldn’t make it to the funeral due to an injury, paid tribute to Kevin’s dedication to the union and the wider labour and peace movements. His message was read out at the funeral.
"Bob I can’t make it today due to an injury, but wanted to directly pass on how extraordinary a bloke Kevin was,” Crumlin said.
“Kevin was passionate, committed, tough and progressive. His life at sea and in the office was punctuated by the determined and relentless prosecution of seafarers rights and entitlements in particular and working class rights and campaigns in general.
"He lived his life honestly and openly, and in his own way was a humble person who put the rights of others always in front of his own. His commitment to the union, the peace movement and socialism was consistent with the beliefs of that wonderful generation of progressive unionism in the SUA and inspirational to a younger generation of seafarers including myself.
"His partnership with Jim Steele at a critical time of attack on Queensland maritime and other workers was part of the important leadership in that state and nationally. His return to sea after office placed him in the highest regards and respect by seafarers for his political, industrial and professional loyalty to seafarers and our work.
"Vale Comrade Kevin Durnian. Seafarer and Irishman. A true and courageous labor and peace activist, socialist and man of family. Now at rest."
Former Queensland Branch Secretary Mick Carr said: "Kevin was a staunch delegate on many ships, and determined activist, he marshaled the Utah picket line in Brisbane from 1977 which at the time held the Guinness book of records for the longest running manned picket which was in place for over four years.
"Every ship in Port had members attending, and there were regular delegations from all over as well as large numbers of unemployed members. It was one of the many examples of Kevin’s ability to organize and was one of the reasons that when the Union was deliberating on the need for a second official for Qld it was Kevin who was nominated for the newly created Assistant Secretary position from the 1/1/1982 he held this position with great pride and determination until ill health took its toll on him and he determined to resign on the 3/10/ 1988.
"Kevin was of course an activist for peace and social progress and in August 1986 he was honoured as one of twenty recipients to receive the Australian Peace Award which was established to mark the International year of Peace. This award was for his role within the Trade Union movement on behalf of his union in promoting peace.
"Kevin was further endorsed by the Union as part of a Union delegation to attend an International Peace conference in Western Europe later in 1986, his International work was testament to the values he held so dearly. Always a political activist he espoused at any opportunity the imbalance in the World between the haves and the have nots and was keen advocate on economic issues.
"Kevin never let up and as 1985 came along he was heavily involved in the SEQEB dispute on behalf of the Union as well as the many other responsibilities as the Assistant Secretary to Jim Steele, they were a very formidable team with a massive area of coast line to look after.
"There is little doubt that the work load was extremely heavy, anyone to lived and worked as a trade unionist during the Bjelke-Petersen years well understood the political and industrial pressure on workers and the Union officials who represented them.
"Kevin was a proud man who loved his Union and enjoyed the great respect of members who he always put first, vale Kevin Durnian - internationalist, advocate for world peace, political activist and trade unionist."