Michael O'Sullivan, who died on January 7, was the National Executive President of the Australian Services Union until he retired in 2004 after 38 years of active union service. He was previously National President and Deputy President of the Victorian Branch of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia (FCU), one of the three Unions which amalgamated in 1993 to form the Australian Services Union.
Michael's long and distinguished career in the union movement saw his active involvement in a diverse range of areas from traditional industrial matters, to training and financial management.
After the 1989 National Wage Case, Michael worked on behalf of the National FCU, with the ACTU until 1991 to construct a competency-based, career path award for clerical workers, using the then Victorian Commercial Clerks Award. After several Full Bench cases, it was established, and became a benchmark for clerical awards in other States and in Federal Awards. This classification structure survives in the modern Clerks - Private Sector Award 2010.
Michael was a member of five Conciliation and Arbitration Boards of the Industrial Relations Commission of Victoria for many years and was very well regarded as an advocate on behalf of the Union's members.
From 1991-1996 Michael represented the FCU and then the ASU on the ACTU Executive. He was also a member and Chair of the National TUTA Council and later became the first Chair of TUTA Inc (owned and operated by the ACTU and affiliated unions). From 1991 he was a member of the Board of the ACTU Financial Services Trust, and later a Director of ACTU Member Connect.
Michael was also deeply involved in international trade unionism, reflecting his belief that solidarity across the world and not just within Australia was an important part of protecting workers' rights.
Michael was elected as a representative of the Oceania Region on both the World and Asian Pacific Regional Executives of the international white collar union federation known as FIET. In 2000, FIET became UNI – Union Network International – and Michael was re-elected to the World and Asia Pacific region Executive committees of UNI.
He was one of the first to urge UNI to consider the influence which could be wielded by pension funds for better corporate governance and higher standards of corporate social responsibility.
Michael's concerns for the financial security of union members extended to his work in the superannuation sector.
Michael had been a Director of CARE Super since 1996, serving as Chairman and Deputy Chairman.
Michael helped form the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, pressing for high standards of company governance and behaviour. In 2001, Michael became the inaugural President of ACSI a position he held for 10 years until he stood down from that position in May 2011.
Michael was a valued colleague of ASU National Office staff as well as Branch officials both past and present and will be remembered fondly within the union movement for his generous advice, sharp intellect and passion to improve the lives of working people.
The ASU extends its sincere condolences to Michael's wife, Lynn, and his family.
Former ASU National Industrial Officer Keith Harvey has written an obituary for Michael O'Sullivan which was published in The Age here: Strove to better workers' lives