Comintern History. Australian Communist Party 1951                                                                     

Jim Healy, leader of the waterside workers federationThe story of Jim Healy
Leader of the Waterside Workers Federation

Rupert Lockwood

Source: Current Book Distributors, Sydney, August 1951
Transcription, mark-up: Steve Painter

“Vested interests which stand behind the Menzies government want to see unions destroyed … The policy of the Menzies government is to produce ‘tame-cat’ unions — not unions that will fight for the workers irrespective of the consequences.”
     Mr JB Chifley, to the ALP Conference just before his death

* * *

Aids to memory

Private James Healy, Argyll and Sutherlands, dragged a bleeding body over the Peronne battlefield in August 1917 after a German stick bomb had ripped flesh from his leg, shattered the bone and torn off a finger. Far away in Melbourne, Australia, ex-Lieutenant Robert Gordon Menzies was building up a profitable legal practice. He had proudly worn two pips, but cast them aside at the first roll of drums.

* * *

Ex-lieutenant Menzies’ government laid four Crimes Act charges against the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, following the efforts of James Healy and the wharfies to succour locked-out New Zealand watersiders.

The Crimes Act was introduced by William Morris Hughes, whose government built this repressive law on the War Precautions Act of the Hughes War Cabinet.

In November 1913, the Waterside Workers federal council met and resolved that no New Zealand cargoes should be handled without authority from the union executive. The federal leaders of 1913 were all for a sympathetic boycott. The federal council further resolved: “That a man be sent to New Zealand to keep the council advised as to the progress of the New Zealand dispute, The president to appoint a man to go.”

The president was William Morris. Hughes, then deputy Labor Party leader in the federal parliament, president of the Waterside Workers Federation, later a conscriptionist, renegade, recipient of a £25,000 gift and author of the Crimes Act under which another Watersiders leader was charged.

* * *

The security service, or Federal Police, raided Waterside Workers Federation offices to seize minute books. They took minutes of the resolution to boycott black New Zealand cargoes, supported by James Healy in 1951, but did not take minutes giving the 1913 resolution, supported by WM Hughes, MHR, for a New Zealand cargo boycott.

In World War I Mr Hughes spoke for conscription at Warwick. A patriot of Irish origin hit the Labor renegade with a rotten egg. A Queensland policeman refused Mr Hughes’s querulous demand for the egg-thrower’s arrest. So Mr Hughes founded the Federal Police.

The raiders of union offices who sought evidence on “crimes” advocated by William Morris Hughes 37 years ago could trace their ancestry to rotten egg splashed in the face of William Morris Hughes.

Struggle Was His Birthmark

“I never could. believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.”
     Richard Rumbold, last words on a British gallows, 1685

James Healy was born in Gorton, the heart of industrial Manchester, in 1898. Around his humble home was smoke-grimed Manchester, with its black dust and dirty ditches that had once been crystal streams.

Manchester, with its poverty and mill slavery, was a city of protest — protest against child labour, against long hours that warped body and soul, against starvation wages that filled the cemeteries and unemployment that filled the Poor House. Manchester reformers suffered the Massacre of Peterloo when in 1819 the drunken cavalry rode them down on St Peter’s fields. These Lancashire workers battled and hungered for trade unionism, for the reforms of Chartism, for repeal of the Corn Laws.

At school, still little more than an infant, Jim Healy found himself involved in a schoolchildren’s strike. The children weren’t quite sure what they struck for; their strike was, in reality, a reflection of the social protest movement that was bringing their parents into the great pre-1914 strikes.

Healy’s father was an Irish laborer, getting 19 shillings and sixpence a week from the Manchester City Corporation. His mother, in between babies, slaved in cotton mills for 12 shillings a week. The Healy parents kept four children on this, without luxuries and sometimes with only bare necessities, but they were still better off than families in which only one parent could work.

Young Jim sold papers in the damp Manchester streets to earn a few additional coppers. Out on the streets, Jim could hear the first faint tocsins of socialism — the speeches from the soapboxes and the rebel talk among workers at the corner. He was only eight when, holding an oil lamp in his hand so that canvassers could read the electoral rolls, he worked for the return of John Hodge, president of the Steel Smelters Union, member of the first Labour Party election team, which included Keir Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald, Philip Snowdon, Arthur Henderson, Will Crooks and others.

The Irish in him

“I make no war on patriotism, never have done. But against the patriotism of capitalism I place the patriotism of the working-class, the patriotism which judges every public act by its effect on the fortunes of those who toil. That which is good for the working-class I esteem patriotism.”
     James Connolly, the Irish martyr whom Healy admired

Healy was caught up in Irish as well as Manchester ferment. He became a member of the Irish Land League, led by John Redmond, MP, and other Home Rulers. He closely followed the efforts of James Connolly and Jim Larkin for the building of trade unions to strengthen the Irish independence struggle. Jim Healy often attended pro-Irish meetings with his father.

In 1912, Sir Edward Carson, with his lieutenant, FE Smith, was organising Ulster Volunteers, armed from Britain, for treasonable rebellion against Irish Home Rule legislation, James Connolly, Redmond and other Irish leaders were raising volunteers to oppose the Carson provocation. The volunteer movement spread to the Manchester Irish and Healy, now 14, signed up. Young Healy was ready to go to Ireland to fight for redress of Ireland’s wrongs.

Not the last fight

“A war to and war.”
     Lloyd George

Jim Healy was 16 when Von Kluck’s mass formations swept across Belgium to the Marne. The air was filled with slogans about making the world safe for democracy and lands fit for heroes to live in. Jim Healy managed to slip through in 1915, although a year under age. After three months rifle and bayonet drill, he was with the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, replacing the battered French poilus near Albert. Both sides were tunneling and mining to blow each other sky-high to vindicate differing concepts of democracy. Then Private Healy was off Armentieres, given false fame for mademoiselles instead of mud. There were bombardments, bayonet charges. The world was still far from safe for democracy, so off to Vimy Ridge, near Hill 60. Then a rest before the Battle of the Somme in July, 1916. Next, Coucelette to relieve the Canadians, whose next-of-kin in Toronto were receiving formal government condolences. Private Healy floundered among the Canadian dead, up to his waist in mud, to face the German shells and bayonet charges. The Argylls by this time had roamed the front in mud and dust, heat and snow, Spring poppies and autumn leaves. It was no wonder they called them the Agile and Suffering Highlanders. A Krupp shell with Private Healy’s name on it arrived. He lay too long on the frozen ground and got frostbite to complicate the deep splinter wound.

Near Healy was Harry Lauder’s son. He could never be a great people’s comedian, like his father. Herr Krupp silenced his Scots voice forever.

Patched up in Blighty, Healy was back in the water-filled trenches early in 1917. The Western Front battles swayed; the Germans, though bloodied and blockaded, could attack violently. By August 1917, Private Healy found himself one of a party of Argylls holding an advance post before Perenne. A shower of German stick bombs wiped out the whole party except Healy. With blood flowing from gaps in his broken and torn leg and the stump of a finger, Healy wet the French soil over a long trail towards medical aid. British soldiers picked up a broken body and carried it to a field hospital. The doctors decided to hack off Private Healy’s grenade-busted leg, then changed their minds and gave it a chance. Private Healy was in hospital for over five months. Three months later Private Healy’s papers were marked: “Unfit for further active service.”

The man behind the guns

“D’ye hear of Martin Dooley, th’ man behind the gun, four thousand miles behind them, an’ willin’ to be further.”
     Finley Peter Dunne, Dooley follows the flag, 1898

Dooley’s wishes can’t be lightly dismissed. If everyone had the good sense to stay with the flag-wavers and conscriptionists, a long way behind the guns, then the guns would never go off. And if Healy had resigned from war, like his present-day persecutor, then he wouldn’t have those brown scars and dents in his left leg, or a four-finger hand. If we accept the version of Mr William JG Bancks, BA (Conscription Referenda and Facts), Mr Menzies had the best of reasons for making Martin Dooley his model. Mr Bancks writes: “My brains are too good to be shot away, he (Mr Menzies) is widely quoted as having told his friends.” Jim Healy’s brains were miraculously spared in 1917. In 1951, they are devoted to planning for peace, and, therefore, far too good to be impounded.

Healy believes that all men should have the right of personal choice taken by Mr Menzies in 1914. All Mr Menzies has to do is to vindicate the policy that he pioneered by holding a referendum on conscription.

“Why didn’t you go to the war?” screamed one of Mr Menzies’s tomato-hurling supporters, when Mr Healy was speaking in the Domain in December 1939.

Soldier of peace

“If my soldiers were to begin to think, no one would be left in the ranks.”
     Frederick the Great, Prussian warlord

Private Healy had known a Glasgow lad in his regiment, not yet 20, who had moved in the illegal direction — away from the blood and fire. Thee sentenced the lad to death. Not a man in this lad’s company of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders would serve in the firing squad. The battle veterans accepted the right of an immature lad to resign from war, just as Lieutenant Menzies had resigned. But the officers got soldiers from elsewhere to kill him. Private Healy had discovered that the glory of war was a lie. He knew that they inscribed lies on the memorials and tombs of warlords. Statues of Liberty were always the beautiful white maid, never the youthful Glasgow war-resister standing blindfolded before the firing squad, the Russian soldier voting with his feet before 1917, voting the only way he could against a Romanov butcher, or the French poilu storming angrily back towards his betrayers in Paris after General Nivelle’s Operation Massacre. Too many of Private Healy’s mates had become citizens of death’s grey land. He was the only survivor of that advance party at Peronne.

Ex-private Healy became a soldier of peace. Today, he is an elected member of the most, representative organisation of peace defenders ever known — the World Peace Council.

A land fit for heroes

“Soldiers fight and die to promote the wealth and luxury of the great; they are called masters of the world without having a sod to call their own.”
     Tiberius Gracchus, speech at Rome, 133BC

Ex-private Healy, discharged into Lloyd George’s land fit for heroes, was given a disabled soldier’s pension of seven shillings and sixpence a week. He subsequently settled for a lump sum of £60 in full compensation for his lost flesh and blood and broken bones. Back in Manchester, he chased any kind of job fit for one of Lloyd George’s three million wounded British heroes. For a time, he got odd jobs in Manchester metal shops. In the 1920 post-war depression, men were sacked wholesale. At the Labour Exchange where Healy lined up for work, there were 40,000 on the waiting list. He and his wife said farewell to Manchester. In Edinburgh, he was lucky; he got a two-year job as a plate layer, converting Edinburgh cable trams to electric. The dole that followed the job wasn’t enough to support the family that had begun to arrive. In 1925, the Healy family came to Australia on a nominated migrant passage, landing at Brisbane from the strike-delayed Sophocles.

On Peace Day, 1919, Jim Healy had married Betty McGowan, at Edinburgh, Scotland. On the 32nd anniversary of their wedding, Mr and Mrs Healy arrived at the Federal Court, Sydney, where Healy later received four Crimes Act convictions — for having carried out the decisions and instructions of his union.

Glimpse Of The Future

“I have seen the future, and it works.”
     Lincoln Steffens, American writer, on visiting Russia after the 1917 Revolution

Healy worked at a Mackay sugar mill in North Queensland, as an Australian Workers Union member, then on Mackay wharves. He joined the Australian Labor Party, took a keen interest in the Australian labour movement, and soon was ALP branch vice-president and Watersiders branch president. But Healy had come from the post-war depression into the onrushing Great Depression. His wharf earnings in one year totalled £94 — not enough to support a wife and children. Through “preference to returned soldiers”, he picked up a shire road job 50 miles from home. Camp conditions were a disgrace — well below award standards. At the end of the first week he helped arrange a show of union cards. There were only three. Before a union organiser could arrive, Healy and the other two card-holders were sacked.

Australian workers, afflicted by unemployment, intimidation and poverty, had begun to take more interest in the socialist Soviets, depicted in the press as hell on earth and an attempt to make water run uphill. Mackay watersiders dipped into half-empty pockets to send Healy to the Soviet’s 1934 May Day and bring back the truth. Healy, still in the Labor Party of Scullin, Lang and Forgan Smith, visited Mos­cow, Leningrad, Kharkov, Odessa, Stalino; the factories, collective farms and social institutions. He found a society run by workers, farmers and intellectuals that gave greater freedom, particularly freedom from the dole and degradation, rising standards already far in advance of those under the Tsar, rest-houses, sanitoria, free medical services and equal cultural and recreational opportunity.

Healy had seen the future. Back in Australia he lectured on the Soviet.

In 1935. Healy joined the Australian Communist Party.

Wharfies’ leader

“Healy has a first-class brain and his word, once given, has been accepted by a succession of ministers who have never had to reproach themselves with being too trusting.”
     Admission by the Sunday Sun Canberra correspondent, May 27, 1951

Jim Healy moved from Mackay to the Sydney wharves in 1936 to handle soda-ash, pig-lead, double-dumped wool, road rails and cheap tin trays. Those were the days of round-the-clock shifts, work in rain, hail or storm, no protection on dirty jobs, no limit on slings and loads, no proper safety precautions and no lamentations in the press over the many wharfies killed and injured.

Sydney wharfies recognised Healy as a man who would fight for their rights and asked him to stand as general secretary. He was elected by a fair majority nine months after he arrived in Sydney. There was no annual leave; it is now one day’s annual leave for every 26 worked or attended. Attendance money was unknown in 1937; today it is 12 shillings.

Under the “bull” system, militant workers were victimised. The bull system was the auction block for labour, a survival of the North Carolina slave mart. Wharfies were picked up outside gates or even outside pubs. It was “Hey! You in the grey sweater! … You, Ginger! … You with the torn shirt! … You with the broken nose!” Healy led the struggle to end this affront to human dignity, to replace the bull system with the gang system, which equalised work by roster and ended victimisation and favoritism. Healy also helped Australian wharfies to win eight-hour day shifts and six-hour night shifts, with overtime limited to two nights a week. Slings and weight loads were controlled, wool double-dumps abolished, and first-aid posts established for the injured, who once had to wait in agony till ambulances arrived.

Conscience of the nation

“Sell not your conscience; thus are fetters wrought.
For what is a slave but one who can be bought?”
     Arthur Guiterman, 1924

Conscience, in spite of Shakespeare, doesn’t make cowards of us all. Conscience made heroes of many Australian waterside workers.

When Australia’s honour was being dragged in the mud by politicians, when prime ministers and hack-writers were endorsing aggression and lauding dictators and men who knew that conscience bade them speak the truth remained silent, it was on the waterfront that the conscience of the Australian people found expression.

Near the end of the 1861-65 American Civil War, the armed Confederate raider Shenandoah lost a propeller off Australia and put into Melbourne for repairs. The Shenandoah flew the ensign of the Southern slave-owners; she was sinking the shipping of Abraham Lincoln, who had proclaimed emancipation of the Negro slaves. The colonial governor and officials, the wealthy and privileged, showed their sympathy with the slave-owners, gave the Shenandoah repair facilities and, as the Argus of those days reported, threw the doors of the Melbourne Club open to the raider’s officers. Port workers of Melbourne thought differently; they demonstrated against the slavers’ men. At their first opportunity, Australian maritime workers had shown their hatred of the enslavement of man.

In 1871, the people of Paris rose against the treachery of Thiers, the Petain of those days, who was betraying them to the Prussians, and set up the first socialist government in history — the Paris Commune. Among the Commune leaders to escape hanging were the Marquis Henri-Victor de Rochefort-Lucay, a fine writer and democrat, who preferred to be called Henri Rochefort, and Louise Michel, school­teacher, ambulance driver and nurse in the 1870-71 Seige of Paris, who bore a rifle in the 61st Battalion of the Commune army and, like Rochefort, stood to the barricades until the last. They, with other surviving Communards, were sentenced to convict transportation for life to the prison hell of French New Caledonia, near Australia. Wilfred Burchett (Pacific Treasure Island) says: “Chained in iron cages, treated more like wild beasts than human beings, Louise Michel and Henri Rochefort, together with some thousands of other Communards, were deported to New Caledonia … When one of the transports arrived at Melbourne, more than half the deportees were down with scurvy.”

Melbourne wharfies saw the plight of the Communards and organised aid and demonstrations. Quickly, the working people raised £1500 — a fortune in those days — to help the persecuted socialists. The colonial authorities did everything they could to stop the workers helping the Commnunards.

Later, the Communards’ families were taken to share the convicts’ exile aboard the transport Tenelon. Egon Kisch writes in Australian Landfall:

“When the Tenelon dropped anchor in Port Jackson in 1873 on its voyage to the dungeon islands, these submerged victims of the power-drunk toady Adolphe Thiers experienced something they had not expected — demonstrations of love and solidarity.
“Hundreds of Australian workers came down to the ships with flowers and presents and invitations, and the sons and daughters saw they were being honoured for the sake of their fathers, the fathers for whose sake they had been persecuted until now. A banquet was arranged in Sydney Town Hall and every Australian democrat, during the two days the ship lay in the harbour, sought personally to entertain at least one family whose father had fought for freedom.”

This sympathy for victims of persecution is in the true Australian tradition — a tradition that Jim Healy has fought to uphold and develop.

“Their conscience is clear”

“But to have to stand by while even the very poor are having their vast possessions taken from them — their last bit of bedding (and it is freezing weather), the poor ricksha man, his ricksha; while thousands of disarmed soldiers who have sought sanctuary with you, together with many hundreds of innocent civilians, are taken out before your eyes to be shot or used for bayonet practice, and you have to listen to the sound of the guns that are killing them; while a thousand women kneel before you crying hysterically, begging you to save them from the beasts that are preying on them … this is a hell I had never before envisaged. Robbery, murder, rape continue unabated — One poor woman was raped 37 times. Another had her five-month infant deliberately smothered by the brute to stop its crying while lie raped her.”
     HJ Timperly (What War Means), Manchester Guardian correspondent in China, on the Japanese rape of Nanking.

Not long after the Japanese raped, robbed and slaughtered in Nanking, the British ship Dalfram arrived at Port Kembla, NSW, to load 7000 tons of pig-iron, part of a 23,000-ton shipment of iron from the Broken Hill Proprietary to the Shinto torturers.

The BHP pig-iron was enough for 180,000 Japanese 250-pound high-explosive bombs and 1 million 50-pound incendiaries.

Led by Ted Roach at Port Kembla, and with Healy as national leader, the wharfies tried to keep the bombs away from innocent Chinese flesh and to free Australia of the shame of abetting mass murder and rape.

Sir Isaac Isaacs, former Australian Governor-General, wrote in 1939:

The men refused to engage to put the iron on board solely because they would, as they conscientiously believed, thereby become accessories in helping Japan in a war of aggression, and in the bombing of inoffensive civilians. The government intervened to force them to load the pig-iron.”

Key figure in this attack or the conscience of the nation was Robert Gordon Menzies, attorney-general until April 1939, then prime minister.

“The government,” said Sir Isaac, “applied to the men and their families what I would describe as the economic pressure of possible starvation unless, contrary to their conscience, the men helped to despatch the pig-iron for the use of the Japanese government …

For myself, I honour the men who stood out as long as they could and those who supported them. They went far, and with sincerity of heart and purity of motive, sacrificed much to vindicate, for the whole Australian community, a general humanitarian sentiment, and the right to insist on personal freedom of conscience where restrained by law …
“I conclude my consideration of this most unpleasant incident,” added Sir Isaac Isaacs, “with unbounded admiration for the struggle for humanity and for freedom of conscience. I believe that Mount Kembla, with the sturdy but peaceful and altogether disinterested attitude of the men concerned, will find a place in our history beside the Eureka Stockade, with its more violent resistance of a less settled time as a noble stand against executive dictatorship and against an attack on Australian democracy.”

Of the wharfies who Roach and Healy led in this historic struggle, Sir Isaac Isaacs said:

“Their conscience is clear.”

• Ted Roach is today serving 12 months jail for “contempt”.

• Bill Burns, who reported the Port Kembla pig-iron ban for progressive newspapers, has been serving a six-month jail sentence under the Crimes Act, following publication of demands for an ending of the Korean War.

• James Healy received four convictions under the Crimes Act.

“We’ll be back”

“Never mind, we shall be back to make you load it.”
     A Japanese officer to Sydney wharfies who refused to handle lead for his ship, 1939

Sydney wharfies refused to handle the Kembla pig-iron, which the frustrated Merchants of Death railed to the port. They banned tin-clippings for Japan, had a go at scrap-iron and lead.

In August, 1941, only four months before Pearl Harbor, the Kasimu Maru was in Brisbane to load wool. With boos and catcalls for the assassins of Nanking, soon to be the assassins of the Death Railway and Darwin, the wharfies refused to load the wool. The government had the wool loaded by non-unionists. It helped to clothe Japanese submarine officers for their death mission into Sydney Harbour and the sinking of the Centaur.

Arrogant Japanese fascists are being rearmed, naturally with the support of the Menzies government. Mr W. Hughes says it is “treason” to rearm Japan because “Japan still covets Australia,”. Jim Healy, Ted Roach and a powerful watersiders’ union are needed to check the second attempt to carry out the Japanese officer’s boast — “We’ll be back.”

Black armada

“We know that the day of exploitation of the resources and the people of one country for the benefit of any group in another country is definitely over.”
     President Roosevelt, 1943

Jim Healy was leader, in 1945-49, of the solidarity struggle with the Indonesian liberation movement — a struggle that won world fame for Australian trade unions. Indonesian sweat and toil, Indonesian oil, rubber, tin, spices, copra, cotton, tobacco and bauxite had created 150 millionaires in Holland and an average income of something like a penny a day for 70 million Indonesians.

During the Pacific War, the Dutch assembled in Australian ports an armada of ships to be loaded with military supplies to crush the newly proclaimed Indonesian Republic. When the Dutch tried to load and move the armada in September 1945, the Indonesian crews struck, and the wharfies immediately imposed a black ban on Dutch shipping. The Dutch sent strong notes to Canberra. The press screamed. Mr Menzies and his supporters alleged that Healy and the wharfies were “dictating Australia’s foreign policy”. If Healy had been foreign minister, Australia today would be living in peace with her neighbours, and not racked by a war economy.

The wharfies, backed by 21 other unions in the boycott, remained solid. Indian and Chinese crews joined the struggle. The Dutch armada was delayed long enough to give the new republic, now suffering heavy blows from Japanese, Dutch and British forces, time to gather its forces. Indonesia’s struggle is far from over, but the Indonesians have more chance of real liberation than ever before.

Jim Healy, addressing the Second World Peace Congress in Warsaw, said of the pig-iron and Dutch shipping boycotts:

“We believe that these actions not only furthered the cause of peace, but established a bond of friendship between the peoples of China and Indonesia and the people of Australia, which could have been extended further by neighbourly relations to the mutual benefit of all.”

They shall not pass

“This is the effective assistance which the Spanish people ask for recovery of their freedom, and with it their republic.”
     Spanish Republican cabinet in exile on Australian wharfies’ boycott of cargoes for Franco

Sydney wharfies, soon after the war, noted a sheepskin cargo for Barcelona. They decided there would be no sheep’s clothing for the Spanish wolf, Franco. Jim Healy and the WWF federal council backed the boycott. The news was published by the underground press and radio of Spain, giving new heart to resistance fighters.

The Council of Ministers of the Spanish Republic, the supreme cabinet of the republic-in-exile, issued under the name of the Spanish President, Senor Alvaro de Albornoz, this statement:

“In connection with the noble gesture of the waterside workers of Australia in refusing to load any kind of goods for Spain as a protest against the survival of the Franco regime in our country, the Spanish Republican Government wished to express to those workers its profound recognition of the spirit of solidarity which this action signifies towards the cause we are defending, and for its worthy example, which strongly contrasts with the vacillating policy of the governments of certain democratic powers.
“If this determination of the Australian workers were emulated by the great trade union organisations, even for a short while, the abominable regime which oppresses our people would disappear.”

Healy's name is hated among the friends of the butcher Franco. But among the people of Madrid, who gave the world the slogan against Fascism — “No Pasaran!” (They shall not pass!) — it is spoken with honour.

The tradition Healy follows

“An injury to one is an injury to all.”
     Old trade union slogan

It was no accident that Australian wharfies took risks to succour the persecuted veterans of the Paris Commune, the peoples of China, Southeast Asia and Spain.

It was no accident that they choose a man like Jim Healy as their leader.

Australian workers, through their origins, have a traditional sympathy for victims of tyranny, poverty and oppression. Wharfies’ ancestors and many of the overseas-born on the wharves migrated to Australia in search of bread and freedom to win the better life denied them in the Old World. The migrants brought to Australia a determination to resist poverty, imperial tyranny, class privilege and persecution.

As far back as 1884, wharfies struck in sympathy with seamen.

Brisbane wharfies started the fund, in 1839, which yielded £30,000 for the British dockers in their “tanner-an-hour” strike, led by Tom Mann and Ben Tillett and supported by Cardinal Manning.

In 1912, the wharfies’ union, with WM Hughes as president sent £200 to the striking London dockers, though its total assets then were about £500. Next year, they sent £200 to the Dublin transport strikers, as well as aiding the 1913 New Zealand maritime strikers. Australian wharfies were at times donating nearly £5000 a week to feed locked-out New Zealand wharfies in the recent dispute.

Today, more than £120 a week goes from Sydney wharfies’ pay envelopes into collections for sick wharfies or the families of the waterfront dead. No worthy appeal is ever rejected on Australian wharves. Sydney watersiders make liberal donations to Dalwood orphanage, UN Children’s Fund, Balmain, Sydney and South Sydney Hospitals, the Spastic Centre, tuberculosis patients and other sufferers. On other wharves, too, they are ready to share their bread with fellow workers on shrike, with the halt, the maimed and the blind. Their generosity has exceeded the depths of their pockets.

Gang 87 on the Sydney waterfront recently refused to load butter while NSW families were starved for butter. At various times after the war, the wharfies banned exports of galvanised iron, tiles, timber and other building materials in an effort to assist Australians out of living in tents and garages.

Jim Healy is a living part of this tradition of sacrifice in the common weal. Genial, smiling, unruffled and deep­thinking, he has never sought to be a “union boss”; he has developed the democratic strength of the waterside workers and labourers, as one of his men, to make the Waterside Workers Federation one of the most powerful guardians of Australian living standards and liberties. Healy does not consider the consequences when he defends and extends the great traditions of the Australian wharves.

Healy for peace

“Like the dockers in other parts of the world, the Australian waterside workers have a traditional attitude on the question of war … There can be no doubt that the growing strength of the Australian peace movement threatens the Menzies government’s war plans … The Australian government is a signatory to the Charter of Human Rights and still loudly proclaims its adherence to the principles of the Four Freedoms. Freedom for whom? Not for the lovers of peace, only for the warmongers and their supporters.”
     James Healy, Australian delegation leader to The Second World Peace Congress in Warsaw.

Healy is a trusted, tried and admired fighter for peace. This was recognised in his election by delegates representing 500 million peace supporters to the World Peace Council. It was this World Peace Council that sponsored the Petition for a Pact of Peace among the Five Great Powers, already signed by about 400 millions of all nations. This Pact of Peace would be the alternative to the mad arms race, the zooming prices and inflation, the shortages, the dread and anxiety which afflicts so much of humanity — a people’s weapon to remove the menace of war.

The defence of James Healy is the defence of peace, the defence of liberty, the defence of the Australian nation’s conscience, the defence of all that is fine in the Australian tradition.