Laurie Burley retires - We will miss him

Laurie commenced work as an apprentice butcher with Coles in 1965. He continued to work as a butcher for various employers. Laurie came under notice during the supermarket disputes in the early 1980s, where he was particularly active on the picket lines that were set up during those successful campaigns.

In the mid 1980s the Union decided to appoint a specialist retail organiser, rather than to rely on the elected officials who usually had a background in abattoirs. Laurie was approached, but at that time he was not available to take the job. However a few years later, in 1989, when it was decided to appoint a second retail organiser Laurie was again approached. This time he was available and prepared to take the Job.

Recruiting Laurie was very fortunate for the Union and its members, in particular the retail members. Laurie very quickly showed that he would become an outstanding organiser. Laurie likes people, and he likes helping people. In his role as an organiser nothing was too much for him. He gave well beyond what most would regard as good service to the members. He was available at almost any time and would give advice and assistance in many matters that were well beyond the norm for other organisers.

In particular Laurie stood like a Colossus in comparison with the organisers in the SDA who are the only organisers other than the AMIEU within the retail industry. Where the SDA did very little for very few, and then only if authorised to do so by management. Laurie would pursue every issue on behalf of members (whether inside or outside the meat room) with fearless unrelenting tenacity until an acceptable conclusion was reached. Laurie would persevere when others would either not have started or otherwise long given up.

So effective was he in this, and in his resolve that members were entitled to know about any matters that might affect their working entitlements or conditions, that Woolworths repudiated their agreement that gave Laurie right of entry to Woolworths’ supermarkets at any time.

By doing this Woolworths were admitting that they, and their friends the SDA, had no legitimate answers to Laurie’s continual representation of the membership’s interests. Their only answer was to try to stop him going to their stores.

Laurie knows almost all of the retail members in the Union. He has spent more than 20 years assisting them, empowering them, and almost always enjoying himself in their company.

He will be sorely missed by all his comrades who wish him a long and happy and fulfilling retirement