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Sydney Thomas (Ivo) Barrett (1907–1980)

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Sydney Thomas (Ivo) Barrett, also known as Sidney Barrett (1907-1980), wharf labourer and trade union leader 

Birth: 7 April 1907 in Sydney, New South Wales, son of Sydney-born parents Thomas Sydney Barrett, bricklayer, later wharf labourer, and Eleanor, née Dixon. Marriage: 16 March 1927 at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Pyrmont, Sydney, to Minnie Alma ‘Midge’ Greenfield (1906-1985). They had one daughter and two sons. Death: 15 November 1980 in hospital at Nowra, NSW. 

  • Member of well-known Pyrmont family.
  • 1924 became a waterside worker, spent 20 years working mostly in ships’ holds and cargo.
  • Unionist active in Waterside Workers’ Federation (WWF) campaigns against pig iron, the Dalfram dispute, the Cold War campaigns against Menzies Government, and the Industrial Groups. From 1944 to 1954 WWF vigilance officer. From 1955 to 1972 assistant secretary, Sydney branch WWF. From 1944 to 1972, federal councillor WWF.
  • Joined the Australian Labor Party in 1926. Expelled in 1948 for standing on the United Front ticket. Active in the peace movement during 1950s.
  • Midge, his wife, was active in Wharfies Women’s Committee. Two sons were also active in WWF. ‘Never… a limelighter, nor opportunist…but a solid union leader’.
  • Cause of death lung cancer.

Margo Beasley, Wharfies: the history of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, (Rushcutters Bay, 1996); Maritime Worker, 18 July 1972, Dec 1980; The Socialist 1972-1984.

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Citation details

'Barrett, Sydney Thomas (Ivo) (1907–1980)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Barrett, Sidney Thomas

7 April, 1907
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


15 November, 1980 (aged 73)
Nowra, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (lung)

Key Organisations
Political Activism