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Vale Jim Doyle – AWU Life Member

August 27, 2020

Members, Officials and Staff of The Australian Workers Union extend their deepest sympathies to the Family and Friends of Life Member Jim Doyle on his recent passing at the grand age of 102.

Jim’s 87 years as a continuous member of the AWU makes him the longest serving member in the history of the union. This is testimony to his loyalty, determination and fight on behalf of the working class and their struggles during his time with the AWU.

Daniel Walton, AWU National & NSW Branch Secretary, said “Jim holds the highest honour in the union which is life membership, he was also the first member in the country to hold Double Platinum status membership recognising his 80 years of service.”

Peter Lamps, Branch Secretary of AWU South Australian Branch, said “Jim was the embodiment of the term ‘Stronger Together’ and he will be sorely missed by us all.”

Jim was committed to bettering the lives of the working class from the day he joined the AWU.

He first got involved with the AWU when he became a shearer at the age of 14 starting his career in his home state of Queensland and then in NSW.

Jim worked alongside some of the AWU’s founding members and during evenings in the shearing sheds listened to world events on the portable radio. He recalled it was the most important and formative time of his life.

He was passionate about politics and the role it could take to improve society as a whole, and this remained central to his life.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and served his nation proudly. He also paid his union fees upfront as he was so confident of his return to shearing and determined to guarantee his AWU membership continuity.

Peter Lamps, Secretary of the AWU South Australia Branch, said “When Jim went to war, he ensured that his membership ticket was kept up to date, which gave him the ability to claim the longest continuous membership in the history of our union”.

He returned to Australia to continue his shearing career and became a central player in the fight to win the 40 hour week in Queensland, but soon found many employers were wary of taking him on and was forced to find work in New Guinea at Bougainville Copper Mines and then in South Australia at Moomba.

In 1971 he was elected as an AWU organiser for the South Australian Branch and represented the Whyalla region. Every year he travelled an incredible 90,000-100,000km around the region and was considered a highly effective organiser and recruiter.

He only retired in 1986 after reaching the mandatory retirement age, but continued to work through his network of politicians, friends and union contacts.

In 2011 AWU South Australia Branch opened its new office in Port Pirie named “Jim Doyle House” in his honour, with more than 300 people marching down the main street in a procession led by Jim.

In 2013 his eighty years of membership were formally recognised at the AWU National Conference and just two years ago he celebrated his 100th birthday with his AWU family.

This agitator and legend of the union movement will be very greatly missed, but never forgotten.

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