The NSW Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) construction and general branch released the statement below on September 7.
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CFMEU State Secretary Brian Parker today expressed his deep sorrow of the loss of one of the building trade union’s most significant leaders — Joe Owens.
Owens, who died earlier this week, was secretary of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) NSW branch between 1973 and 1975.
With other BLF leaders Jack Mundey and Bob Pringle, Owens was an instrumental part of the Green Bans movement that saved some of Sydney’s now-iconic tourist sites such as The Rocks, the Museum of Contemporary Art building, Woolloomoolloo’s heritage and Centennial Park.
Owens played a key role in other social issues such as the push for Indigenous and women’s rights and the anti-Vietnam War campaign.
He was also a key player in the democratisation of the BLF that included a limit on tenure of the executive and was Secretary when BLF Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher took over the NSW Branch and blacklisted the former leaders.
Parker says the union movement has lost an outstanding leader.
“Joe Owens never took a backward step in his commitment to the betterment of workers’ lives.
“Through the Green Bans, with Jack Mundey and Bob Pringle, he sought to save our city from over-development.