16.10.1946 – 02.02.2013
My memories of Bill Gluyas are mostly from Union Solidarity picket lines. It did not matter how early a picket line started or how far away it was, Bill was always there.
What many people who supported those picket lines didn’t know is that Bill funded much of the Union Solidarity infrastructure — the picket line BBQ and the PA system. Bill didn’t like the limelight and didn’t want thanks. He just wanted to know that he was helping workers fight for their rights.
For those times on the picket line when there’s nothing much happening, Bill was able to keep people entertained for ages with his stories. He always had lots of stories because he had such varied life experiences.
Bill also put himself at the services of the activist left and progressive causes by always being prepared to bring his homemade PA system to lots of protests so that the groups with little money didn’t have to fundraise to hire a PA system for their actions.
Bill was a self-taught electronics genius, building a PA system, computers and heaps of other things. He built the first computer to help with the establishment of the Socialist Alliance office in Geelong.
Bill recognised that the Labor Party didn’t support workers’ rights and was disenchanted with the role of the ALP in maintaining control over unions. In the late 1990s he joined the Progressive Labour Party and was active in the PLP in Geelong for several years.
A lot of Bill’s political activities were focused on the western suburbs in Melbourne. One of the many local campaigns that Bill was involved in was the campaign to save the Sunshine Pool from closure.
There are other stories that indicated that Bill was a very principled and humanitarian person throughout his life from quite a young age.
Bill and his brother were removed from their family to the Box Hill Boys Home. This is the institution where the Salvation Army is implicated in many atrocities against the children. Bill and his brother ran away at one point because of the abuse, but the police returned them to the home.
Many people who have experienced these institutions are permanently damaged by the experience. However, Bill had the strength to become someone for whom human solidarity was a guiding principle of life.
Late in his teens, Bill was jailed for a misdemeanor, where he befriended the Aboriginal prisoners. Throughout his life, Bill had a strong commitment to Aboriginal rights and was a strong supporter and participant in Camp Sovereignty, which was established during the Commonwealth (Stolenwealth) Games in Melbourne.
While in jail, Bill was conscripted into the army, resulting in him being sent to Vietnam.
In the last couple of years, Bill had heart problems, but despite being forced to use a motor scooter, he turned up at the May Day march and other rallies.
There aren’t many photos of Bill because Bill was camera shy. If you have a photo of Bill from a picket line or elsewhere, please email this address.
[A gathering to celebrate Bill’s life will be held on Saturday March 2, 1pm-4pm at the United Cricket Clubroom, JP Parsons Reserve, Stanford Street, Sunshine (off Wright Street Mel Ref 40 J3).]