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Issue #1578      January 23, 2013

AMWU assists Tassie fire effort

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union’s (AMWU) Tasmanian branch has moved to assist members affected by the state’s destructive bushfires. The branch’s barbecue trailer is being taken to the bushfire zone in the state’s south east, where it will be deployed on the advice of local authorities to help people in burned-out areas which have lost power.

The branch’s generator will also be made available, with electricity not expected to be connected for a month in parts of the fire-ravaged Tasman and Forestier peninsulas.

Tasmanian state secretary John Short said the union would do all it could to assist affected AMWU members, including retired member Bob Brakey whose family home was one of 90 buildings destroyed in Dunalley.

Mr Brakey evacuated from the house with his wife Katheryn as the fire raced over a nearby hill, managing to grab some family photos, two laptops and a change of clothes. He also saved the scooter belonging to his son Travis, who is paraplegic but was not at the house at the time.

Mr Brakey went to a friend’s property about 8 kilometres away but spent much of the rest of the day and evening helping save it, then sheltering around the shoreline with local families as wildfire burned down to the beach that night.

”When we arrived back on Saturday morning we had a cuddle and a cry, but at least we have insurance on the house,” he said. But that didn’t cover all contents and the trauma of losing a home he had built up from a shack since the mid-1980s.

His next-door neighbour’s house was untouched while others behind him also burned, emphasising the cruelly random nature of fire.

“There’s a lot of people worse off than us, they will really need some financial help. We’ve had support from many areas which we would never have thought of,” Mr Brakey said after a visit from Mr Short.

Mr Short said collections would be taken up at workplaces through a campaign co-ordinated by Unions Tasmania.

“We’d also encourage our members throughout Australia to make a donation. At the moment cash is the most effective means of helping the community,” he said.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said the union effort will include a day of action by delegates raising funds on January 23.  

Next article – Independence is at stake if ABC salaries are published

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