Padraig (Paddy) Crumlin was born and raised in Riverwood in Sydney. His father, Joe, was a self-funded Master Mariner, who went to sea as a deck boy on the Australian coast in 1947; Joe was also an active trade unionist who was on the Executive Board of the Merchant Service Guild (MSG). Paddy attended De La Salle College Kingsgrove and DeLa Salle Bankstown on a Commonwealth scholarship. During Paddy’s many years on ships, he worked as a deckhand, pump man, greaser, Able Bodied Seaman (AB) and Bosun in the dredging, hydrocarbon, bulk ore, tanker and container and general cargo trades.
He has been a full-time union official since 1988. He was elected Sydney Branch and NSW Branch Secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australia. In 1991, he was elected as Deputy National Secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australia and, subsequently, when the SUA amalgamated with the Waterside Workers Federation in 1993, he was elected as Joint Deputy National Secretary.
He was elected to the position of National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia in 2000. He was a member of the Shipping Industry Advisory Group from 2009-2013 in the lead up to the Navigation Act reforms and ratification by Australia of the Maritime Labour Convention in 2011. He served as a director of the Sydney Ports Corporation during the time of the Patrick dispute in 1998.
He is Chairman of Maritime Super, and, in his capacity as National Secretary, ensures the proper stewardship of membership funds deposited in the Maritime, Mining & Power Credit Union, where he has served as a director in past years. He is also a Member of the Executive Board of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), which gives him an influential voice on the policy and direction of the Australia labour movement. Working with his colleagues in the ACTU, he established, principally initially with the Australian Workers Union, the industrially and politically important alliance in the hydrocarbon industry. He also established, with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RBTU), the Australian Transport Unions Federation, which seeks to unite the power of all transport workers in Australia.
Paddy has been a long-time international labour leader, in the maritime industry and beyond. Upon his election as MUA National Secretary, he was elected the first Australian to chair the Asia Pacific region of the 4.5-million member International Transport Workers Federation. In August 2006, Paddy was elected as the ITF’s Chair of the Dockers Section, which put him in a position to negotiate with global CEOs on behalf of dockers working on every continent. He was the first Australian to hold the post since former WWF General Secretary Charlie Fitzgibbon’s service in the position (1974-1983).
Paddy was, then, elected President of the ITF in August 2010 in Mexico City, a post he continues to hold. He is the first Australian to lead the ITF as its president.
In addition to his global work with the ITF, Paddy has also represented international seafarers at the International Labor Organisation on maritime conventions for over 15 years in a senior capacity. In that period, Paddy played a central role in bringing about the introduction, and ratification in 2006, of the Maritime Labour Convention, which is widely know as the “seafarers’ bill of rights” because it establishes minimum working and living standards for all seafarers on ships across the globe.
He played a key role in establishing the International Bargaining Forum (IBF), which brings together every two years the ITF and the international maritime employers that make up the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG), with the end result being a framework agreement that ITF-affiliated unions advance in local negotiations with companies in their own country.
He has shown a long-standing commitment to the advancement of maritime culture and the arts in general, believing that the MUA should encourage artists and filmmakers to break new ground in challenging the perceptions we hold about the society in which we live. In particular, Paddy is a judge for the annual Black Prize for Human Justice, which is sponsored by the MUA and is bestowed on a work of art that features a human justice theme.
In the context of Paddy’s commitment to human rights, he was instrumental in the establishment of Hunterlink Recovery Services in 2010 and was the foundation Chair of the Hunterlink Board, a position he continues to hold.