John McCallum began working in the public hospital service as a teenager in 1971.
John McCallum began working in the public hospital service as a teenager in 1971. 45 years later, he is about to take long service leave leading up to his retirement from the Repatriation General Hospital (affectionately known as the “Repat”).
“I first realised the importance of being a union member as a teenager, when the superintendent tried to sack me.
“I had raised an issue with hygiene – that the worker who cleaned up pigeon droppings was also greeting patients directly from the ambulance. That was enough to try to get rid of me.
“I had the support of the union, and as you can see – I kept my job for another 45 years.”
John played an integral role as the Repat representative on the bargaining committee during the last Enterprise Bargaining negotiations for the public sector.
When negotiations stalled, he led Repat members in industrial action for the Secure Jobs campaign.
The Repat will close in 2017, and John has chosen to support his fellow union members by staying on as the United Voice Delegate during the closure.
“Through the union, I’ve had opportunities to do lots of different things.
“I’ve been involved in the Government Hospitals Reconciliation Committee, the Award restructuring in the early 1990s, a Committee to review the OHS legislation in 1985, and I was also a founding member of the OHS Committee in 1986.
“Being involved in the union has made my working life really interesting! “
As the longest-serving worker at the Repat, John can tell you some interesting history, including:
- The Repat was built as a collection of long thin buildings in 1942 – to defend against bombing
- The rosemary bush in the Peace Garden at the Repat was grown from a clipping taken at Gallipolli
- The pews in the Old Chapel are reversible, and can be tilted toward either the Catholic end or the Protestant end
Branch Secretary David Di Troia said, “John McCallum has worked tirelessly to represent United Voice members over his many years as a United Voice Delegate.
United Voice Executive Officers, on behalf of all members, would like to acknowledge and thank John for his years of service and dedication to the union.”