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Ann Browne: A Tribute

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18 July, 2005ICEM News release No. 8/2000

With great sorrow, we announce the passing of Ann Browne, Projects Officer of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).

Ann died peacefully in a Brussels clinic on Friday night, at the end of a long fight against cancer. She is remembered by her fellow trade unionists worldwide, both as a kind and charming colleague and as an effective builder of trade unions for those who need them most.

Ann Browne was born on 18 October 1949 in Strabane, Northern Ireland. After her studies, she joined the Chile Solidarity Campaign and was particularly active in its programme for refugees. Many people in Chile remember her from those days.

In 1982, she joined the Miners' International Federation (MIF), a forerunner of the present ICEM. At the MIF, she had responsibility for projects and particularly for Latin America. After the MIF's merger into the ICEM, she became the ICEM Projects Officer.

Whilst Ann was rigorous in her presentation of projects, reports and accounts, she was never a bureaucrat. She saw her work as that of a militant serving the affiliated trade unions. Never afraid to speak out, she was also no stranger to physical risks and hardship, particularly during her work with trade unions in Latin America. After one visit to Peru, the newspapers there described her as a dangerous activist.

She will also be remembered for initiating the Global Health and Safety Project in the mining industry, for her work with women in mining communities and for her campaigns against the use of child labour in mines. Year after year, she played a crucial role in supporting the Colombian coal miners' union Sintracarbon as it struggled against repression and for the right to collective bargaining. Today, Sintracarbon is one of Latin America's most militant and effective miners' unions.

Ann's struggle against cancer began ten years ago. It was a difficult and often painful fight. Everyone admired her ability to surmount the disease and to carry on her important work in spite of it. Her determination to keep on serving her ideals helps explain her remarkably long resistance to cancer.

Ann's ready laughter, her fine sense of humour and her kindness were blended with a huge working capacity and great willpower. Her address book was full of friends all over the world. She could not conceive of visiting affiliates or attending conferences without arranging side meetings from dawn until late at night.

Yet she had time for people. She cared deeply. And she is deeply missed.