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Tasnor Ivan (Tas) Bull (1932–2003)

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This entry is from People Australia

Tasnor Ivan (Tas) Bull (1932-2003) seaman, waterside worker, trade union leader monistist and Labor Party activist. 

Birth: 31 January 1932 in Sydney, son of Peter Marius Brodhal Bull (1882-1944), a Norwegian sailor and electrical contractor, and his second wife Muriel Isabell Maud, née Gourlay (1901-19??), born in Hobart, Tasmania, the younger sister of her husband’s first wife. Marriages: (1) about 1956 to Laima Ilcukis, who had been born in Lithuania. They had two sons. The marriage ended in divorce. (2) 18 June 1970 at the Registrar General's Office, Sydney, to Carmen Lidia Zulema Saloman, a typist/secretary, born in Acebal, Argentina. Death: 29 May 2003 in Sydney. Religion: Non-religious but spiritual funeral service. 

  • Grew up in Hobart. Parents were active in Salvation Army and he participated in street meetings, bands and marches. Began working life aged 14 years.
  • Seaman on British and Scandinavian ships for 4 years. Worked on Hobart waterfront in 1951(?) or 1954(?). Joined Seamen's Union. In 1956, became involved in Hursey case about union members’ freedom to refuse payment of trade union levies for donations to political parties. The case eventually went to the High Court.
  • In 1959, after breakdown of first marriage, he moved to Melbourne and worked on docks. In 1960 relocated to Sydney and continued to work on docks. In 1967 was organiser of Waterside Workers’ Federation, Sydney branch, having defeated candidate supported by head office. 1971, Federal union organiser. From 1984 was federal secretary of the WWF until his retirement in 1992.
  • Campaigned for better pay and conditions, for victims of asbestos disease and for improved safety on ships in times of declining workforce due to increased technology such as containerisation. Steered union towards amalgamation with Seamen's Union becoming Maritime Union of Australia in 1993.
  • Vice-president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in 1987 and senior vice-president in 1991.
  • Member of Communist Party for many years until 1959 due to changing political ideas. Member of Australian Labor Party in 1974.
  • Active in International Transport Workers Federation campaigning against flag of convenience ships and poor conditions for seamen on Singapore-based ships. Represented Asia-Pacific region on executive board for 10 years.
  • Campaigned against French nuclear testing on Mururoa Atoll, apartheid in South Africa and Australian involvement in the Vietnam War. Member of 'Free Chile' Committee with wife, Carmen. In retirement he became chairman of Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA), an ACTU overseas aid organisation, and was first chairman of 'Organising Works', an ACTU union training program. President, Cuban Children's Fund. Also played a significant role in the ACTU’s Wages Accord with the the Hawke government in February 1983.
  • Author of Politics in a Union: the Hursey Case (1977). Published autobiography Life on the Waterfront during the 1998 Patrick's dispute. In retirement he travelled and sailed his yacht on Sydney Harbour.
  • Large crowd at funeral, with work ceasing on Patrick and P & O Ports and a one-minute silence observed by others.

Sydney Morning Herald
, 4 June 2003 p 4, 9 July 2003 p 30; Australian, 4 June 2003, p 12; Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 4 June 2003, p 22.

Citation details

'Bull, Tasnor Ivan (Tas) (1932–2003)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Tas Bull, n.d.

Tas Bull, n.d.

ANU Archives, NBAC N409-55-04

Life Summary [details]


31 January, 1932
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


29 May, 2003 (aged 71)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism