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Legendary trade unionist and steelworker Ferdinando ‘Nando’ Lelli has passed away.
Mr Lelli led the Port Kembla branch of the Federated Ironworkers Union through a period of great turmoil in the 1970s and ’80s.
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Mr Lelli was part of the negotiations for the deal which kept the steelworks in Port Kembla and saved thousands of jobs during the global recession of the 1980s.
Mr Lelli was born in Ascoli Piceno, Italy on December 21, 1931. Growing up under the fascist regime had a profound impact upon Mr Lelli who emigrated to Australia in 1957.
After arriving in Australia, Mr Lelli moved between Mildura and Sydney before settling in the Illawarra with his wife June.
There the couple raised two sons, Paul and Glenn, as Mr Lelli rose to become the President of the South Coast Labour Council.
Current national secretary to the successor union to the Federated Ironworkers Union, Daniel Walton said Mr Lelli dedicated his life to helping Australias who would have otherwise struggled to have their voices heard.
“He was a formidable negotiator, a clever industrial strategist, and a genuine people person,” Mr Walton said.
“His unwavering advocacy on behalf of workers will remain a shining example to all of us in the union movement.”
Mr Lelli passed away early on Sunday morning and is survived by his sons and two grandchildren, Cara and Matthew.
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