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Carter, Herbert (Bert) (1878–1958)

by Chris Cunneen

Herbert (Bert) Carter (1878-1958) tailor and trade union leader 

Birth: 1878 in Warrnambool, Victoria, son of Samuel Carter, saddler, and Jane, née Lucas. Marriage: 6 September 1911 in East St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria to Clemence Sylvia Woodgate, music teacher. Death: 14 February 1958 at Ascot Vale, Victoria. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Worked in Warrnambool and Melbourne. Secretary, Amalgamated Society of Tailors (Vic.) 1904-7. Committed to comprehensive amalgamation and federation of clothing trades unions. First major leader of Federated Clothing Trades' Union (FCTU). Secretary, Victorian Branch FCTU 1907-13, defeating Alf Wallis for position in 1910.
  • Appointed Federal secretary FCTU in 1913, initially a part-time, unpaid position. Despite withdrawal of NSW Branch (1914), worked to achieve further organisation and a federal clothing trades award. An "arbitrationist", he opposed plans by Wallis and others for OBU. Led union's case for Federal Award, 1919.
  • In 1920 "loaned" by Victorian Branch to be full-time Federal secretary. 1927 full-time federal secretary. Position weakened as a consequence of depression of early 1930s. His calls for Federal action to resist wage cuts went unheeded by State Branches, most of which sought to return to State awards. 1932-3 threatened Federal intervention in NSW Branch. Resigned secretaryship in 1933 after position was made honorary (temporarily) and stripped of many of its powers.
  • ALP councillor for Hopetoun ward, Melbourne, from 1926 to 1944.

Sources
Argus (Melb) 23 April 1926 p.12, Age (Melb) 22 August 1944 p.2; Bradon Ellem, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (UNSW Press, Sydney 1989). 

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Carter, Herbert (Bert) (1878–1958)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/carter-herbert-bert-32132/text39704, accessed 20 October 2021.

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