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Issue #1743      August 10, 2016

Vale Jock Levy

I’m sad to report that Jock Levy has passed away.

Jock was a Sydney wharfie and communist who formed an integral part of the famous and ground breaking film unit in the Waterside Workers’ Federation that was one of the first and most effective independent film making and documentary initiatives in Australia and which not only captured the great history and struggles of our union’s political and industrial history but went on to inspire a new generation of independent film makers in Australia that remains a national focus today.

This is Jock on his 100th birthday with fellow WWF Film Unit comrade Norma Disha. On the right is Jamie McMechan the current MUA Film Unit Director.

Jock went on to make a lifetime of contributions to progressive artistic and campaign activity around many progressive community, industrial and political issues, remaining an important and much loved and respected working class leader in his own right.

The union assisted in bringing the work of Jock back into focus, in assisting Dr Lisa Milner bringing Jock’s wonderful contributions together with Keith Gow and Norma Disher of the film unit in her book Fighting Films – the history of the Waterside Workers’ Federation Film Unit in 2003 (still available through the union!). Lisa herself has been a constancy in ensuring our working class history in Australia in her own amazing body of work.

Zoe Reynolds, the MUA’s long term journalist, was also critical in ensuring the important record of achievement of our film unit was secured.

The launch of Lisa’s book at the Sydney Maritime Museum, that has the famous WWF Mural as a bequeath from our union and its Sydney Branch, was in itself a great punctuation of the long progressive history embedded in our Australian values, achievements and current way of life.

We digitalised most of the Film Unit’s work and they remain a very sought after source of our Australian working class history today and is often featured in mainstream reporting on everything from the gross exploitation of wharf labourers on the Hungry Mile, the emasculation of poverty and struggle during the depression to the many great union campaigns for better working conditions for maritime workers, miners and many other Australian workers.

That work remains an inspiration to the ongoing active recording of our union’s activities that remains central to our continuing policy to counter the ongoing lies, misinformation and constant abuse of our and other unions and members in mainstream media today. The recent Royal Commission was only the latest example of the distortions and selective facts that allow for the consistent attacks on our union movement, a political dynamic Jock and the many other contributors to the film unit set out to counter.

The digital copies of the Film Unit’s work are made available to everyone both through the archives and online, one of the first initiatives in this area of information access, a decision of our union inspired by Jock’s and the Film Unit’s work and focus.

Jock will be greatly missed and the union extends our deepest sympathies to Jock’s family and many friends and comrades.

In unity

Paddy Crumlin
National Secretary, MUA

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