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Subsequently the position of FMWU Branch Secretary attracted the part-time services of two men with interesting previous careers.
In 1951 when Bill Grace signed him up as a member of the FMWU, Doug Howitt was 29 years old in a union which saw its role as protecting the jobs of increasingly elderly waterfront watchmen.
This was a serious organisational issue because there were other unions, noteably the Australian Workers Union (AWU), which seemed ready to step in if the FMWU failed to extend its membership to the full extent of its coverage rules.
Elsewhere in the FMWU, however, things had been changing.
Aside from any other consideration, this posed a potential problem for the organisation federally because of competition from other unions which might have been able to use the FMWU's weakness in Tasmania to extend their own coverage claims first within the state and subsequently nationally.
In this period the branch began to receive serious organisational assistance from the FMWU national organisation.
He had been an official of the Timber Workers Union and had come into the FMWU under a membership rule which gave the union coverage of public officers of the labour movement.
There was some resistance to this as the watchmen had been used to thinking of the FMWU in Tasmania as their union.
The FMWU federal organisation decided to provide the necessary finances to fund the position of full-time Tasmanian Branch Secretary.
(56) In any case in the events surrounding the Hursey case Leo had clearly shown his loyalties and understanding enough to recommend him to the FMWU. In the political climate of the time in which sectarianism was a fundamental issue, the fact that Leo's family were Roman Catholic was also significant.
(59) Nonetheless the federal Council accepted the necessity of continuing a subsidy to the branch and negotiated arrangements with the Clothing and Allied Trades Union and the Municipal Employees Union for the now fulltime FMWU Branch Secretary to represent their members in Tasmania.
The new Branch Secretary also took steps to increase the FMWU's capacity to represent employees within its areas of coverage by registering it in the state industrial jurisdiction.
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