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Pat Geraghty

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The ITF is sad to announce the death of Pat Geraghty, lifelong trade unionist and campaigner, and SUA (Seamen's Union of Australia) national secretary from 1978 to 1993. The SUA and Waterside Workers' Federation merged in 1993 to form the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia).

Pat Geraghty was born in Sydney in 1928 and went to sea in 1947, where he witnessed injustice, the power of solidarity, and the threat to seafarers posed by the growing number of flags of convenience. He went on to become a powerhouse of the SUA and of the fights not just for seafarers – through his work to defend cabotage and against FOCs and to secure International Labour Organization conventions – but also in vital worldwide campaigns including those against apartheid and the invasion of East Timor, and the boycott of Pinochet’s Chile after the military takeover in 1973.
ITF president and MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin broke the news of his passing. He stated: “I am very sad to report our retired National Secretary Pat Geraghty has passed away overnight from medical complications following a heart problem last week. Our first thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his loving family, who with others, have stood vigil with him at his bedside and elsewhere in preparation for his final voyage. The family wish to reach out and thank everyone for the overwhelming messages of support and want you to know that they have found great strength and peace through that support.

Pat was a remarkable person and, of course, will be greatly missed. We are reassured in, our grief at his passing, that he lived a life that brought hope, opportunity, peace, support and decency to maritime and other workers in this country and across the world. He lived his life around a determination that if you can make a contribution for the common good of anyone, then do it. He worked for the common good with his inimitable and indomitable humour, wisdom, compassion, humility and persistent courage and raw toughness in the face of many adversities.
“He earned, without expectation, the respect and admiration of national and international political, human rights, corporate and trade union leaders at the highest level while holding other’s belief and faith in him and his work from the working women and men that he unerringly and uncompromisingly represented. 
“At a time of deep and adversarial division nationally and internationally Pat's constant commitment to peace, justice and opportunity and support for all - regardless of person, place and circumstance - will continue to stand as a beacon for hope and focused action for those that wish to tread the same pathway and also those that are in such dire need of that leadership that delivers on that hope to so many.
“Pat has completed a long journey and on behalf of the MUA we wish his loving family all of the relief, our deepest sympathies and condolences, that we can bring at this time of their grief. We hope deeply, in some small way, our heartfelt thoughts reassure them of the great love and belief we had in Pat and all he strove for on their, and our behalf.
“Vale Patrick Geraghty, family man, seafarer, trade unionist and leader, socialist and man of peace. Goodbye, friend and comrade.”
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “It is with huge sadness that we receive the news of Pat’s passing. This is a terrible time for his family, everyone close to him, everyone who was touched by him. It is a time of painful grief. But we at the ITF, speaking on behalf of 5 million working people from 150 different countries, hope his family and friends find strength, take heart, knowing that Pat’s life work made a difference for so many people.
“Pat was a leader of maritime workers through some incredibly tough times. The issues of the day, national and global, could only be dealt with by people promoting unity, dignity and respect. Pat was a true leader on all these fronts. The example he set on how to behave, how to fight for what’s right, will serve as an inspiration to me and trade unionists everywhere; a committed defender of workers’ rights, a campaigner for social justice, a driving force for change.
“We – the trade union movement – have lost a brother, but we have not lost the impact of his life. We will ensure that his legacy of bringing hope, compassion and courage in representing the working women and men of Australia, the region and beyond, lives on.
“Pat Geraghty is, and will always be, a friend of the ITF and a friend of trade unionists in all corners of the world.”
For more on Pat Geraghty’s history and how he earned the title of ‘trade union hero’ please see