Bob Anderson speaks about his family history in terms of where they were from and the sort of schooling they had. He speaks of his Indigenous ties, and the ties 'to country' in regards to Moreton Island (Mulgumpin) and Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah).
|Indigenous issues, Moreton Island|
Bob Anderson speaks about his early experiences growing up in regards to his early schooling, the working roles of the adults and the industries on Stradbroke Island at that time, and his early sense of identity. He also talks of the transition experienced by the locals going from using a barter system to a cash economy.
|dairy industry, Stradbroke Island|
Bob Anderson speaks of his community and family involvement with trade unions, including men he grew up with who were members of the Australian Workers Union, and an uncle, Paul Tripcony, who was vice-president of the Federated Liquor Trade Employees Union during the mid-1930s.
|Aboriginal Affairs, AWU, Health Department, Paul Tripcony, Sandgate|
Bob Anderson discusses his later schooling at Fortitude Valley and East Brisbane and his early days in the workforce.
|education, Stradbroke Island|
Bob Anderson discusses his early awareness of trade unions, why and when he first joined a union and how he became involved as a union official.
|BWIU, Collinsville, industrial disputes, Miscellaneous Workers Union, Paul Tripcony, South Brisbane, union positions, unions|
Bob Anderson speaks about who influenced and inspired him during the earlier times doing union work. He talks of an experience involving the apparent price fixing of household gas, and how one of the people who influenced him, Gerry Dawson, approached the situation.
Bob Anderson gives examples of how being forthright or showing 'audacity' became a key feature of his union activities. This was of particular use when he went over to the Bougainville Copper Mine, northern Papua New Guinea as part of a group of union officials to investigate pay and working conditions, at the company's request.
|ACTU, Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Bougainville Copper, Cloncurry Mining, Mount Isa Mines, Papua New Guinea, Pat Mackie, Special Branch, Transport Workers Union|
Bob Anderson speaks of criticism of unions during the Mount Isa mining disputes, in particular the Australian Workers Union, claiming that for a time it was considered a 'company union', in that it was viewed as working more for the interests of the company than the workers.
|AWU, Dunstan House, Edgar Williams, Geoff Wills, Mount Isa Mines, unions|
Bob Anderson discusses demarcation disputes and his experience of them.
|BWIU, demarcation disputes|
Bob Anderson talks of social and political campaigns and organisations he has been involved in, including branches of the Labor Party, the Communist Party, the Queensland Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (QCAATI). He also talks of the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) during his involvement with these organisations.
|ASIO, Communism, Indigenous issues, Kath Walker, QCAATSI|
Bob Anderson talks of his and his union's stance on the environment.
|environment issues, union campaigns|
Bob Anderson discusses the impact of Indigenous perspectives, values and descent. He discusses social causes involving Indigenous people, and his union activity and working as a union official.
|Bessie Point, Indigenous issues, Reconciliation, Townsville, union campaigns, union positions, Yarrabah|
Bob Anderson talks of his union peak body affiliations. He discusses the popularity and high membership numbers during a period of time of his involvement.
|Communism, Gerry Dawson, peak bodies, Queensland Council of Unions, Trades and Labor Council, union solidarity|
Bob Anderson discusses the reasoning behind his change of political party membership from the Labor Party to the Communist Party. He discusses information kept on him by ASIO.
|Albert Namatjira, ASIO, Communism, Eureka Youth League, Reedy River, Shearers dispute|
Bob Anderson talks about the changing strategies and issues faced by the trade union movement. He discusses the issue of Work Choices.
|AWAs, Howard Government 1996-2007, unions, Work Choices|
Bob Anderson talks about the decline in union membership numbers, his move from the Building Workers Industrial Union to the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, and the different tactics this now defunct union had in comparison to his first union.
|BWIU, declining union membership, ship building, technology, union positions|
Bob Anderson discusses his philosophy regarding any regrets relating to his time involved with trade union activity, as well as what he saw as highlights. He discusses involvement in situations relating to the South African Springboks rugby team visiting Brisbane and Apartheid issues as memorable events in his career.
|civil disobedience, Courier mail, Hugh Hamilton, Springboks Rugby tour 1971, unions|
Bob Anderson discusses the invitation given to him and a number of other Indigenous Australians to meet Nelson Mandela in 1990 in Sydney.
|Indigenous issues, Nelson Mandela|
Bob Anderson discusses some of the highlights from his career, such as meeting well known personalities including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev and Gerry Adams. He talks a little about both sides of his own heritage, the Aboriginal Australian and the Irish.
|Griffith University, Indigenous issues|
Robert (Uncle Bob) Anderson was the first Indigenous Australian to work as the State Organiser for the Building Workers Industrial Union (later amalgamated with other unions into the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union) from 1963 to 1978.
Robert Anderson was born in 1929, at Gheebelum, Moreton Island (Mulgumpin). He lived his early childhood on Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), where he attended Dunwich State School, later moving to Brisbane and attending St Benedict’s Convent School in East Brisbane and St James College near Fortitude Valley. Finishing school at 13, he worked in a number of positions until completing a carpentry apprenticeship in 1950. Before becoming State Organiser for the BWIU, Bob Anderson worked as a leading hand for the construction of housing commission homes throughout Camp Hill, Carina, Murarrie and Inala.
As State Organiser for the BWIU, he took an active part in finding positive outcomes for many disputes, industrial and otherwise, throughout Queensland and beyond. These included social and industrial relations challenges at the Mount Isa Copper Mine Lock-Out 1964-65, the Bougainville Copper in Papua New Guinea in the late 1960s, and the controversy surrounding the South African Springboks rugby team visit in 1971. After he left as the State Organiser for the BWIU, he worked on ship repair at the Port of Brisbane, where he was a member of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, until his retirement from manual work in 1983.
From 1988 onwards Bob Anderson worked as a member of many community organisations, often as Chair or President. Organisations he has had an active role with have included the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Board, the Queensland Museum Board of Trustees, and the Brisbane Indigenous Media Association (Murri Radio 4AAA), amongst others. He is a member of the Griffith University Council.
Throughout his times playing an active role within the trade union movement and helping to lead a wide range of community organisations, Bob Anderson has been in the position to rub shoulders with some of recent history’s big personalities. These people included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gerry Adams, and Nelson Mandela. Bob Anderson has gained many awards and accolades for the community work he has done and the leadership shown, including an Honorary Doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology, and a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Copyright © Centre for the Government of Queensland, the University of Queensland, 2014.
The copyright holder of this material grants users permission to access the material on this website for the following purposes only: research and study, education, other non-commercial and non-public uses.