Saturday, September 08, 2012

Joe Owens dies aged 77

Joe Owens - third from left

Green Ban Fusiliers - Denis Kevans

Owens, who died earlier this week, was secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) NSW branch between 1973 and 1975.

With other BLF leaders Jack Mundey and Bob Pringle, Owens was an instrumental part of the Green Bans movement that saved some of Sydney’s now-iconic tourist sites such as The Rocks, the Museum of Contemporary Art building, Woolloomoolloo’s heritage and Centennial Park.

Owens played a key role in other social issues such as the push for Indigenous and women’s rights and the anti-Vietnam War campaign.

He was also a key player in the democratisation of the BLF that included a limit on tenure of the executive and was Secretary when BLF Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher took over the NSW Branch and blacklisted the former leaders.

Parker says the union movement has lost an outstanding leader.

“Joe Owens never took a backward step in his commitment to the betterment of workers’ lives.

“Through the Green Bans, with Jack Mundey and Bob Pringle, he sought to save our city from over-development.

“He did this in the belief that workers were not only concerned about better wages and conditions they also wanted to live in a better environment and protect their children’s future.”

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