Andrew Casey

Andrew Casey r1 ...

Andrew Casey.Andrew Casey died suddenly yesterday in his home city of Sydney, Australia.

As Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, wrote:

“Andrew Casey was a union man He stood tall amongst us as an organiser and an advocate with a passion for justice second to none. On top of a long career in the Australian trade union movement his journalist and campaign skills were deployed in the interests of workers all over the world. Andrew will be greatly missed.”

Sally McManus, the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, wrote:

“Andrew was a dear friend (or 'cobber' as he would say) and a comrade. He worked at the ACTU in the early 90s, then United Voice (when it was the LHMU) and then the AWU. He was running the Australian arm of LabourStart, the first and still only, international union online news and campaign network. He was a trade unionist through and through. We would often catch up, share stories and he was always looking to do more to support in whatever way he could. I respected Andrew so much because his was such a principled person. He was also a refugee and throughly good and generous.”

Andrew was all that. But he was more. To me and many others, he was a close friend and comrade.

I first met Andrew in Sydney nearly twenty years ago. He quickly grasped the potential of the Internet to help promote the labour movement and volunteered to be a LabourStart correspondent in the early days.

Our volunteer correspondents have the job of finding news stories about the trade union movement and posting links to them to our website. Andrew took that job incredibly seriously and would post dozens of such links every day. He would spot so many of the most important news stories, that other volunteers would complain that whenever they tried to post something, Andrew would have gotten there first. I gave him the title of “senior correspondent for the Asia-Pacific region” in the hope that this might rein him him. But to no avail. Andrew was interested in the entire world, and provided comprehensive coverage of countries thousands of kilometres away from his home.

On one visit to Australia I stayed with him and learned part of his secret: Andrew had difficulty sleeping, and would wake up in the middle of the night, sit down at his desktop PC, and trawl the web for even more stories for LabourStart.

But it wasn't just the fact that he had the time. He totally “got” what our project was about, and was active in everything we did. The list of places we'd meet up is a list of LabourStart conferences, for Andrew attended nearly all of them – in Canada, Washington DC, London, Brussels, Berlin, Istanbul and of course Sydney where he coordinated our first conference in that region in 2012.

Andrew was passionate about our online campaigns. When we'd launch a campaign in support of embattled trade unionists in Fiji, Andrew would spend hours finding the most interesting news items, which he'd promote to the top of our news page. His knowledge of the labour movement in many parts of the world was encyclopedic.

In addition to his commitment to the trade union movement, Andrew was a lifelong supporter of Social Democracy and an opponent of totalitarianism – probably the result of being born in Hungary and taken out of the country by his parents after the Soviet Union suppressed the 1956 revolution. Andrew was particularly keen for the international labour movement to remain committed to trade union independence from the state, and worked hard with those unions and pro-labour NGOs in China and elsewhere to promote his vision. He was also a strong supporter of refugees, never forgetting how he and his parents came to be Australians.

He was also a committed fighter against racism and anti-Semitism. He built bridges between communities in his native Australia, and at international level strove to encourage reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.

His sudden loss is a real blow to LabourStart and the international and Australian trade union movements.

It is also a loss to all his friends and family, who loved him dearly.

May his memory be blessed.



Eric Lee

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