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John (Jack) Hutson (1912–2003)

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John (Jack) Hutson (1912-2003) engineer, trade union official, author and Communist party manager

Birth: 13 May 1912, at Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England, eldest of six children of Frank Hutson (b.1881) and Florence Emily Fetherstonhaugh (b.1889), both school teachers. Marriage: details unknown. Death: 21 February 2003 in Melbourne, Victoria. 

  • Family was interested in Socialist Party and Fabian Society, mother active in local government, Leeds, 1934. Jack began his working life as an engineer, completing qualifications at night school.
  • By mid 1930s he had taken a job as an engineer in charge of maintenance plant at oil fields at Sarawak, Netherlands East Indies, where he devised a successful system to sabotage oil pipes in wake of Japanese advance.
  • Was evacuated to Australia where he was involved in war-time manufacturing work as a production engineer. Was in Melbourne by 1954.
  • Developing political awareness caused him to resign managerial position and take a job as a rank and file tradesman. An active member of the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) in Britain, he quickly became shop steward and job organiser for the AEU in Australia.
  • Joined Communist Party of Australia. Engaged in training and research for AEU and became expert on Australian arbitration and wage fixing scheme. Assistant to Arbitration Agent for AEU, Ted Deverall, in Melbourne.
  • Moved to Sydney when the AEU and the Boilermakers’ and Blacksmiths’ Society of Australia combined to open and operate the Commonwealth Research Office, 1967.
  • While working in the Commonwealth Research Centre distilled research and experience into two seminal texts, Colony to Penal Powers (AEU, 1966) and Six Wage Concepts (AUE, 1971) regarded as ‘Bible and Koran’ for industrial activists.
  • Also wrote ‘Inflation, the Silent Robber’ and published article ‘Wages, What Next’ in Left Review, No 1, 1968.
  • Retiring from work, he took over significant responsibilities for managing the financial affairs of the CPA in Victoria. A dapper and refined radical.
  • Active in the Australian Society of Labour History Association (ASSLH), Melbourne branch, as secretary and editor of Recorder.

Sources
Recorder
, 127, March 2003; Amalgamated Metal Workers’ Union Monthly Journal, April 1975; Peter Love ‘Jack Hutson: 1912-2003’, in Bob Boughton, Danny Blackman, Mike Donaldson, Carmel Shute and Beverley Symons, Comrades: Lives of Australian Communists (Sydney 2020), pp 231-234.

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Citation details

'Hutson, John (Jack) (1912–2003)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/hutson-john-jack-34064/text42713, accessed 16 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Birth

13 May, 1912
Hogsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England

Death

21 February, 2003 (aged 90)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

unknown

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Occupation
Key Organisations
Political Activism