To research and evaluate overseas trends in the industrial relations area and study the effectiveness of existing "worker participation" schemes - Canada, UK, Norway, Germany

Des commenced work in the public service as a clerk in 1959. In 1967 Des was Industrial Officer Federated Clerks’ Union. In 1970 he left the Clerks’ Union to become Secretary of the Tasmanian Branch of the Confectioners’ Association of Australia. He was made a life member of this Union in 1982. Des also held positions in the Transport Officers Federation (Tas) Australian Bank Employee Union (Tas) and also served in various Federal union roles.
In 1983 he moved with his family to QLD to take up a position as an Industrial officer with the Catholic Education Office. He went on to become Federated Clerks Union Trainee Development officer 1986-88. He was with the Telstra Corporation 1989-2007



Des spent three months looking at worker participation in improving relationships with management. He visited the United Kingdom, West Germany, Norway and Sweden – accompanied by his wife and small daughter he said there was little time to holiday even on weekends as often these were spent in travel. He found that although worker participation had been operating longest in West Germany, that it was in Britain that all political parties then supported the principle in some form, noting that there were different forms of emphasis. In Britain he visited many industries including Cadbury-Schweppes and Rolls Royce and in Sweden he met with Australian Ambassador Lance Barnard who had assisted him plan his trip.
On his way home to Australia, a stop-over in Tel Aviv he had an unwelcome firsthand experience with international Terrorism when he was only 50 yards from the luggage bag which killed a security guard and passengers and injured others.


Des was sad to have seen situations where worker participation and happiness had been sacrificed to achieve higher production. He commented that rationalisation, specialisation and automation have given us higher productivity but also some meaningless jobs which can result in lack of concentration by workers in these positions thus actually disrupting production.
The trip showed him how vital it was that Tasmania should not have been left out when the then Federal Department of Employment and Industrial Relations set up industrial democracy and human relations units in other states.
He saw many innovative and useful ideas but believed that Tasmania needed to look for special solutions for its special problems, one size doesn’t fit all. He believed that decentralised decision making, vesting this in local plants, was needed and that this would also be desirable to enable greater worker participation.