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Burns, Albert (1875–1948)

Albert Burns (1875-1948) coal miner, gaoled trade union leader and produce merchant 

Birth: 14 December 1875 at Maryborough, Victoria, son of London-born Albert Abraham Burns, miner, and his Welsh-born wife Clara Ann, née White. Marriage: 12 July 1904 in St Paul’s Church, Korumburra, Victoria, to Sophie Ridley, a miner’s daughter born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. They had no children. Death: 21 January 1948 at Kurri Kurri, New South Wales. Religion: Anglican. 

  • 1898 activist on committee of Jumbunna Lodge, Victorian Coal Miners' Association (VCMA). Lodge President, 1901. Held various positions in lodge throughout 1903 Victorian coal strike. Subsequently blackbanned in Victoria.
  • Moved to NSW about 1904. Secretary, 'Dog Watch Committee', established by South Maitland miners in May 1906 to agitate for abolition of night shift-work. Officials of the Colliery Employees' Federation were initially reluctant to pursue cause. Secretary, Hebburn lodge Colliery Employees’ Federation (CEF) and played active part in lodge's campaign for increased rates and safer mining practices. CEF advocate, with Amran Lewis, before special tribunal set up after northern coal strike of 1908.
  • 1909 founding Treasurer, Federated Coal & Shale Workers' Association (FC&SWA). Addressed numerous meetings in support of the FC&SWA's formation. Strong supporter of IWW (Industrial Workers of the World).
  • September 1909 dismissed for allegedly absenting himself from work. Had evidently been compiling a list of members entitled to strike pay. Dismissal precipitated NSW coal strike of 1909-10. Burns himself moved the motion for strike action.
  • Arrested on on 5 December 1909 on charges of conspiracy with Peter Bowling, William Brennan, Amram Lewis and Andrew Gray. On 10 February he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. After his release, on 9 August 1910, Burns abandoned coal industry permanently and became a produce merchant, transferring his political allegiance to the Labor Party. He was president, Kearsley Shire Council, 1927-1931.
  • Died of exhaustion and cerebral haemorrhage (death certificate)

Sources
Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970); information from P.D. Gardner, 1991.

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Citation details

'Burns, Albert (1875–1948)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/burns-albert-32136/text39710, accessed 20 October 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012