John Cummins and the fight for the right to organise

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The events depicted in this footage relate to a particular period of history when the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) was deregistered in 1986. The Union was fighting for its survival and John Cummins was arrested and jailed countless times as he fought for the right to represent BLF members. In one particular court appearance when John was challenging an injunction imposed by the Victorian Supreme court preventing him from entering construction sites, he defiantly stated to the Judge: “I reserve the right – as any self respecting union official would – to service my members. In fact, any trade union official worth their salt must reserve that right. It’s a right that is upheld by the United Nations and international covenants to which Australia is a party and signatory. It can’t be denied I have members. I reserve the right to discharge my duty”. (Joe Loh)