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Apap, George (1939–?)

This entry is from People Australia

George Apap. Birth: 10 June 1939, Gozo, Malta. son of Louis Apap (b. Malta, 1894), fodder store worker, & Josephine nee Camillero (b. Malta, 1902). M. Margaret Stevens, 1959.

Trade unionist. Educated Gharb Gozo Public School. To Australia, August 1953. Began work on the Melbourne wharves for ANL aged 20. Job delegate; in the 1960’s refused to allow a demonstration  of the first 20 tonne crane introduced to Melbourne docks for safety reasons. In late 1950’s organised  weekly Melbourne strikes prompted by refusal of Hurseys to pay union levy. 1967, campaigned against ANL attempt to get rid of the ‘puffer man’ (tested ships’ holds for cars and trucks fumes) when exhaust systems were upgraded; addressed workers on safety aspects; resulting strike, which won the case. 1960, joined ALP; 1965, President, Young Labor, Broadmeadows Sub-branch, helped in election campaigning and fund-raising. November 1969 became organiser for Storemen and Packers Union; successfully resolved this dispute which had caused 32 stoppages at SeaTainer over 6 months. To S.A., January 1973, to review S.A. Branch operations and resolve financial problems; refused Committee of Management’s request to stay on; stood for election for position of Secretary and won with 84% of the vote. Increased membership from 1,200 to 3,000 in 18 months; eliminated starting debt of $12,000; had increased assets to $1million when he left 20 years later. 1974, campaigned for 35 hour week at Ad Oil Refinery, Port Stanvac; strike lasted 3½ weeks, South Australia ran out of fuel, and he required a 24 hour police guard. Dispute was won and Port Stanvac workers became first group to get 35 hour week. 1976, led wool store dispute that ran for 6 weeks with a 24 hour picket for  the duration of dispute; farmers threatened to do work in the wool store; dispute won. In 1973, started the May Day Committee with Ron Barclay; first march took place in 1974. August 1975, member of five person ACTU delegation to Athens, to assist in rebuilding Greek trade unions after their disbandment by the junta. During stay in Athens marched with 500,000 workers against Franco’s political killings in Spain. Joined the Peace committee in early 1980’s. From 1980 was union representative for Correctional Services Board on Community Orders. In 1985 went to the Philippines for a visit to trade unions; donated money; organised Australian support for Nestles workers who had been on strike for 12 months through ban on unloading of containers; helped to win the strike; carried through Philippines factory on workers’ shoulders. 1978-8, on ALP Executive; held positions of Junior Vice-President, 1986 and Senior Vice-President, 1987; only person not to succeed to Presidency from Senior Vice-Presidency. 1988, expelled from the ALP for challenging Premier Bannon for not doing enough for workers, and for criticising the Hawke leadership. In 1995 stood for a Federal seat for the Greens. Member of the United Trades & Labor Council of SA (UTLC), Executive 1975-83, President UTLC 1981/82. Retired December 1992 and active in community.   

Original Publication

  • Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement 1788-1975, 2012

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Apap, George (1939–?)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/apap-george-25524/text33868, accessed 21 November 2017.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012