By Andrew Dettmer, National President of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Tom Mann was one of the greatest figures of the global union movement at the end of the nineteenth century and into the first part of the 20th century.
Here in this article, in 1976, Laurie Carmichael, then becoming, unconsciously, one of Australia’s finest labour and socialist movement leaders, introduces Tom Mann to the members of the metalworkers union. The article coincides with the decision of the National Council to name the new theatre on the ground floor of the new national headquarters of the union in Chalmers St, Surry Hills, as the Tom Mann Theatre. He is explaining some of their heritage to them. The article – about Mann – also says a lot about Laurie Carmichael himself. It required reading and other detailed research and, also, some serious thinking about the then modern legacy that Mann had left; including that unions should be the centre of the recreational and cultural development of its members. Carmichael alerts the members to Mann’s activities as a socialist unionist and its synergy with political intervention into both the Labor Party and socialism to the left of the Labor Party. Some years after this article was published, new research was published on Mann’s life. There is an updated version of this original Carmichael article that takes account of this research, available on request.