Over 200 people attended a memorial for Rex Munn, the “singing socialist” and Labour movement legend, at the Waterside Workers' Hall in Port Adelaide on November 28.
Rex, who died a week earlier aged 84, worked as a wharfie in Port Adelaide for 36 years before retiring in 1987. He described the work as “dirty, dusty and dangerous”.
An enthusiastic unionist and long time member of the Communist Party of Australia, Rex will be fondly remembered for his great sense of humour, his passion for politics and his powerful voice, whether singing songs of struggle or barracking for his footy team.
Speakers at the memorial included friends, family, Tea Tree Gully Football Club A team captain, radio personality, Peter Goers, the Mayor of Port Adelaide, Gary Johansen, SA Unions Secretary, Janet Giles, SA MUA Secretary, Jamie Newlyn and SA premier, Jay Weatherill.
The memorial was chaired by CPA member, Michael Perth. Songs included “The Internationale” and one of Rex's favourites about the shearers' strike of 1891.
Many stories were told including how Rex famously helped paint anti-war slogans on US warships in the 1960s or how Rex and his fellow workers dismantled the siren that was used to summon wharfies to work and threw it in the Port River.
In 1984, Rex was appointed vigilance officer for the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). Since retiring, Rex has thrown himself into community activity.
He was president of the MUA Veterans Association, a member of SA Unions community action group, vice president of the Mayday committee, member of the asbestos advisory committee to the Government, member of the Fair Go for Pensioners Committee and a foundation member of the Port Adelaide branch of the National Trust. His motto was “retired from the workforce but not from the struggle.”
He was also a volunteer at the Port Adelaide Maritime Museum, enthusiastic gardener, home brewer and passionate long time supporter of the Tea Tree Gully Football Club. In fact he won the supporter of the year trophy in 2012, which has been renamed the Rex Munn supporter of the year trophy in his honour.
I had the pleasure and privilege to work with Rex on the Mayday committee and was occasionally overwhelmed by his almost boyish enthusiasm for the union movement in general and Mayday in particular.
He was always among the first to volunteer to hand out fliers at the railway station or in the Mall.
He liased with the Mayor of Port Adelaide regarding the event held at the Workers' Memorial every year on the Sunday after Mayday.
And at the Mayday dinner, apart from running the raffle, Rex was always called upon to lead the singing of 'The Internationale'.
Condolences to “the love of his life”, Marcia and their many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.