Thousands farewell union leader

Thousands of workers farewelled trade union leader John Cummins (Cummo) yesterday, at a service at the historic Regent Theatre in Collins Street Melbourne.

Cummo died last week after a year long battle with cancer. He held the position of the Victorian State President of the CFMEU (Construction Union) and was previously a leader of the militant Builders Labourers Federation (BLF).

Trades Hall has perhaps never been as packed as workers filled the building for the wake after the service. Many stories were told about Cummo’s life and his dedication to working people. An indication as to the amount of people Cummo touched was that when he died the Melbourne Herald Sun was inundated with calls from people wishing to place death notices. Apparently no other person has had more notices placed in that paper!

Cummo was a strong advocate for workers rights and in recent times campaigned to organise casual workers in the labour hire area of the construction industry. Cummo also supported UNITE’s campaigns for casual workers. He would always organise for UNITE to use the old BLF Hall in Orr Street for fundraisers and he attended several of UNITE’s meetings including our successful Casual Workers Conference. He was always happy to offer us advice as he was with everyone.

Cummo will be sadly missed in the union movement especially in this time when workers are facing attacks from the Howard government and employers. UNITE pledges to continue to build the kind of unionism that Cummo represented. We send our condolences to all of Cummo’s family and comrades.