Glenn Hodgman: A socialist and leading shop steward

Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 11:00

BY TIM GOODEN

GEELONG — On November 26, leading building union activist Glenn Hodgman was tragically killed in a motor accident at Newport. He was 47 years old.

Originally from Tasmania, Glenn came to Melbourne in the mid-1980s, a carpenter by trade and a staunch supporter of the Builders Labourers Federation.

He became the co-delegate on the Multiplex site in Victoria Street. After a short trip back to NSW, he went to Warnambool and became the shop steward at the cheese factory. Later he was the steward at Geelong's Wool Stores, Nestles and Deakin University.

Glenn rapidly earned the respect of union members in Geelong and the western districts. He led many of the early industrial agreement struggles and played a positive role during the amalgamation of the different building unions, helping to make the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in Victoria the militant force it is today.

However, Glenn is probably best remembered for his role in organising and protecting workers in the civil area, with his move to the Leighton's Geelong road project. This was a hard area for the union to organise and he faced many battles, but in typical Hodgo style — it was not a problem. He eventually won over all the workers to the benefits of being in the union and made many friends in the process. Glenn campaigned for the introduction of the 40-kilometre speed zone around work sites, which saves many lives.

When Rob Sergi was killed on the bridge construction, north of Geelong in 2001, Glenn organised a day at the Geelong race course in his honour. Glenn looked after the Sergi family a treat that day and it shows what he was all about — helping other people. He was instrumental in having the bridge named after Rob Sergi and a memorial park built at the site in his memory as well.

Glenn was keen on members being trained and organised many workers into training through the union. He helped create an advanced stewards' course and a code of conduct for stewards.

Glenn was a 24-hour steward and often stopped in after work to give a shoulder to lean on for members who were in need of help. He was probably the most respected union steward in Geelong. He was always central to the Picnic Committee, organising food, prizes, entertainment and events. Glenn could make things happen and had a calming effect on all those around him. "The youth should always be our priority", he would say, "They are our future and what we do now counts for our future".

Glenn joined Socialist Alliance in 2001 and was very supportive of the new formation, holding out great hopes for a better world.

He loved Credence Clearwater Revival, always backed Box five at the greyhounds and no crayfish was safe when he went diving.

He was very proud of his family, wife Vicky and children Karena and Murray.

In a town that's often called the heartland of the union movement in Victoria, he was one of its best. A man who represented many phases of the construction unions' history, there was no greater union stalwart or fighter than Glenn. We'll miss him heaps.

From Green Left Weekly, December 3, 2003.

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From GLW issue 564