It has been a sad day for our union as I have to inform that Taffy Pat Sweetensen has also passed away. Another giant of the Australian and international trade union movement Taff has been in poor health for a period of time now. Known and loved for his toughness and leadership Taffy came from an international comradeship of the sea and socialist movement from a time when class struggle , war and the constant campaign for peace defined his trade union and seafaring life.
A veteran of the war against Fascism , Taffy went to sea as a fireman in coal burning ships and distinguished himself by his measured and patient determination to achieve social justice, his untiring work and commitment to seafarers and their rights in Australia and internationally, a deep and unabridged commitment to family and a working class leadership defined by constant struggle and achievement.
A lifelong communist he helped shape in particular the Australian maritime and trade union landscape through constancy in wisdom founded in experience and an unrelenting commitment to the rank and file of our union and the working class movement
He stood easily alongside great working class leaders like Elliot V Elliot, Pat Clancy, Pat Geraghty and Tom Mcdonald as well as he shared company with every union activist and member
He was prominent in particular in the shaping of Australia's offshore industry and his legacy unfolds every day as we continue to struggle for the right of just recognition and job security in that industry at a critical time for the Australian trade union movement
His wife Shirley and children stood their ground alongside him in the constancy of the political and industrial demands placed upon him
Taffy was a true inspiration packaged in a demeanor of understatement but steely determination and their are many legendary stories of his time with us and many that have passed.
Taffy and Jim Steele enjoyed a lifelong friendship founded in quiet certainty of the importance of our union and the political and industrial work that accompanied the defense and construction of seafarers rights in particular. For both to pass on the same day is an extraordinary demonstration of two lives unfolding in close harmony dedicated to finding a better life for the working men and women under their stewardship
Vale Taffy, tough to the end. Never asking for anything in return for a life time commitment to workers , their families and their just entitlement
We extend our deepest sympathies to Taffy's family
Rest surely my old comrade