It’s not every day you see the Victorian Trades Hall Council flag at half mast, nor 175 construction workers on a city building site take a minute’s silence for a rank and file building worker who’s died. But then Neville James Kane was no ordinary worker. “Killer”, as he was nicknamed, was one of a staunch band of members who fought against the 1986 smashing of their union – the Builders Labourers Federation – by the federal and state Labor governments, aided and abetted by the union’s enemies within the labour movement.
The BLF was a well known rebel union, having built its strength on the ground through rank and file activism. Those were the days when a meeting of members could direct the leadership. As Killer recalled “...you went to a BLF branch meeting, whatever came to the floor and was voted on, sensible things, it had to be acted upon and reported back to the next meeting”.