Vale Tom McDonald

The IEU was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of union elder Tom McDonald, who passed away peacefully at Gosford Hospital in late April.

Tom was the National Secretary of the Building Workers Industrial Union (BWIU) and the Vice President of the ACTU. He was a driving force in the formation of the CFMMEU.

Tom fought hard for and helped achieve many rights enjoyed by working people today. We can thank Tom for his brilliant advocacy on universal superannuation, workers’ compensation, long service leave and the minimum wage system that still supports millions of Australian workers today.

Tom will be fondly remembered by many a trade unionist as the movement’s greatest ever mentor. He gave his time freely and willingly to help develop and foster young activists, unionists, organisers and union officials, shaping the way they think about unionism and politics. Addressing the ACTU Congress in 2018, Tom gave a rousing speech. He told delegates from around Australia to be proud. “If you put the totality of our achievements together, we have created a much better Australia,” he said. “And in everything that is good about Australia, you will see the hand of the trade union movement.”

Deeply principled, Tom dedicated his life to working people. He believed in collectivism and solidarity. Tom not only fought for the rights of workers in Australia, but he also stood alongside workers globally, playing a significant role in establishing Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Tom and his family were strong supporters of the anti-apartheid movement and helped establish the office of the African National Congress in Australia. His legacy will inspire future generations of workers to keep up the good fight for better conditions and rights for working people.

The IEU extends its sincere condolences to Audrey (Tom's soulmate and partner for 62 years), Daren, Nivek, Casey; Tom’s comrades and to the whole Australian union movement. Our country has lost a great Australian and our movement has lost one of its greatest elders and mentors. Vale Tom McDonald. Solidarity forever.