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Gray, Andrew (1862–1912)

Andrew Gray (1862-1912) miner, trade union leader and political prisoner 

Birth: 25 November 1862 at Yandoit, Victoria, son of George Gray, Scottish-born miner, and Adelaide-born Elizabeth, née Tommey. Marriage: 2 June 1896 at Parkside, Adelaide, South Australia to Annie Elliott. They had four sons and two daughters. Death: 11 August 1912 in hospital in Sydney and buried at Bulli. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • Worked originally in Broken Hill mines, then at Outtrim mine, Victoria. Secretary of Outtrim lodge 1901-03. Activist in Victorian Coal Miners' Association 1901-04.
  • Resigned lodge secretaryship during Victorian coal strike of 1903 to work on establishing Outtrim Co-operative colliery. Continued co-operativist endeavours through 1904, although venture eventually folded after failure to locate workable bodies of coal on leases. From co-operativism, he subsequently progressed to a syndicalist stance.
  • Transferred to Southern NSW coalfields in 1906. Possessed of youth, energy and tenacity, he moved rapidly into union affairs on South Coast, defeating T.R. Morgan for secretaryship of Illawarra Colliery Employees' Association in December 1908.
  • In November 1909 became full-time secretary of newly-formed Federated Coal & Shale Workers' Association, taking up office in Sydney Trades Hall and applying himself energetically to establishing central authority of new union.
  • Arrested, with Peter Bowling, Albert Burns, William Brennan and Amram Lewis during 1909 coal strike on charges of conspiracy and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment; released from Bathurst gaol on election of Federal Labor government May 1910.
  • On release encountered antagonism from chief rival Morgan and other ICEA officials over his efforts to consolidate Illawarra's link with C&SWA. Appointed secretary pro tem. of C&SWA July 1910 and formally elected soon afterwards. Responded to litigation threat by ICEA officials and Bulli lodge by securing rank and file endorsement for amalgamation, but Bulli lodge secured injunction restraining any ICEA payment to C&SWA. Continued fight to save C&SWA but in June 1911 was forced to close Sydney office.
  • His continued good standing enabled him to return to secretaryship of ICEA, but died aged 49 following severe chill contracted during Bathurst imprisonment.
  • Although overshadowed by Bowling's stronger personality, he was a unionist of 'considerable ability and firm convictions'.

Sources
Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970); information from P.D. Gardner, 1991; Labor Advocate, 28 Aug. 1912.

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Citation details

'Gray, Andrew (1862–1912)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/gray-andrew-32026/text39574, accessed 25 September 2021.

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