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Meet our Delegate Stephen Hutchinson

STEPHEN Hutchinson is one of our many hardworking CPSU Delegates around the state.

Working at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) as a Utility Officer, his duties are varied, including maintenance around the museum, organising tradesmen among many others jobs.

With the museum redevelopment underway, things are a bit squeezy at the moment, with the area currently reduced to one third of its normal size.

Stephen’s worked at TMAG for about five years and knows the museum pretty well – although being such an old building there’s still plenty to discover.

 “I’m getting to know the hidden stuff, like the electrics that we don’t have any drawings for, the pipework underground that we don’t have drawings for, so we’re learning as we go along.”


Union background…

Stephen’s been in the union since he was an apprentice in at the zinc works in 1969.

“At the age of 17 we were encouraged to join the union – it was a family thing.”

“I spent eight years on the mainland in construction. “We were on construction sites in isolated areas like Wyndarra, which is 300 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie.”

“The boys wanted someone to represent them on issues; I put my hand up and became the onsite rep. “That’s where my interest in representing Members came about.”

Stephen was  also a Shop Steward for Australian Newsprint in Hobart, which also meant representing union Members.

For 19 years he ran his own maintenance company.  “Even though I was running my own business I brought my union values with me. “Coming up through those ranks and having the support of the union, I learnt a hell of a lot, so I applied those theories and those approaches to my staff.”

When he started at TMAG, Stephen didn’t join the union to start with. “I was thinking that things would be okay and I didn’t need to be part of a union – but  things changed pretty quickly. “I was happy to join the CPSU.”

“I wanted to get a little bit deeper into the union, so I became a Delegate and now I’m a councilor”.

“You could say I’ve got a  nice rounded approach to my union background – I’ve done quite a nice apprenticeship in unionism!”

A new approach…

“Back in the 1960s and 70s we were rather militant we confronted before we consulted, and we went out and marched. “So we were more likely to march down the street than sit in an office and talk to people.”

Looking back now, Stephen said he realises this was the wrong way of approaching employers about union matters. ”Now it’s consultation without confrontation. “

“So I’ve seen different styles of union – the old and the new. “And I believe the new is better because there’s no advantage or result in the old way of doing things.” It’s better to sit and chat and work it out, and say “collectively we’re not happy with these conditions – what can we do about it?”.”

“I’ve calmed down now, and look at things from a different angle.”

“At TMAG I decided to be an active Member here – it’s sort of in me – I thought I could get away from it but I couldn’t! “I don’t like to see my workmates being intimidated or not knowing what their rights are.”

“I wanted to educate myself a bit more too, which is one of the reasons I became a CPSU Councilor, and it’s great to have the experience of all the other councilors and union management when we meet. “I want to help staff here at TMAG, and try to encourage people to join the union. “I use my own experience about what the union’s done for me when I’m talking to them: better working conditions, better pay conditions. “I can relate back personally from what I’ve been through in my years as a union Member.”


On being a Delegate…

Stephen is a fairly new but keen Delegate in his workplace.

 “I’m only a newbie; I started about 18 months ago. “I found it really easy with the CPSU because we’ve got this great bank of professional people who’re able to help you.”

Stephen is working to up the profile of the CPSU and its Members in his workplace, and he’s started a newsletter which gives updates about issues, activities and Member profiles around the six TMAG sites. He’s also looking to increase Membership in worksites with the help of his Organiser Lyn Saunders.

“I’m trying to put a face to the CPSU here at TMAG. “We’ve got a lot to offer Members and other staff.”

 Recently took part in a day of Delegate training,

“It was really useful, and it was also nice to be amongst people with the same drive to want to help people. “It’s great to know there are people doing similar things who are likeminded. “My cousin was a Delegate for DIER – and I didn’t even know – there he was sitting there at the training. “I’d really like to network more with other Delegates and get together.”

Away from the workplace…

Stephen barracks for the Collingwood Magpies. “But I do have an IQ higher than 50, not like some people believe!”

Apart from footy, Stephen’s got plenty of other interests.

“Up until recently I used to renovate homes as an interest. “My son and I are into four-wheel driving and I ride, I’d like to think it was a motorbike, but it’s a big scooter – 400cc Suzuki scooter.”

“Recently my wife enrolled me in lawn bowls – she said I’d like it. “The course I did was fun.”

He recently did a bowling course, which he found fun, and he’s getting to use to all the lawn bowling lingo such as “too much grass” and the “kitty”

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