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George Reid Kerr (1876–1944)

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George Reid Kerr (1876-1944) coal miner and trade union official 

Birth: 1876 in Ballarat, Victoria, son of Joseph Kerr (1843-1901), born in County Down, Ireland, and his first wife Mary Nancy, née Reid (1846-1880), born in Dingwell, Scotland. Marriage: 1914 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, to Annie Mabel O’Brien. They had one daughter and one son. Death: 8 October 1944 in hospital at Broken Hill. Religion: Presbyterian. 

  • To Broken Hill about 1904. Worked as a miner. Chairman of Underground Miners' (unofficial section of Amalgamated Miners' Association) 1916. Instrumental in securing 44-hour week (by abolition of Saturday afternoon shift) through strike action in 1916. Also represented Barrier miners on Central Council of Australasian Coal & Shale Employees' Federation 1917.
  • Prominent supporter — with Jack O’Reilly and Ted Sinclair — of P. J. Brookfield. Active in anti-conscription campaigns during World War I.
  • One of leading figures in 1919-20 Broken Hill miners' strike. In later years became a scrutineer on Workers’ Industrial Union of Australasia elections.
  • Contested municipal elections in 1919 where AMA Labor candidates, also including O'Reilly, were defeated by a combination of shopkeepers and tradesmen due to divisions in labour ranks about advocating One Big Union and the use of more militant demands and tactics. Instead an Independent (non-Labor) council was elected in Broken Hill.
  • Advocated for prevention of industrial disease involving radical changes to working conditions at the end of WWI and was diagnosed with a lung condition in late 1918.
  • His last place of employment was the South Mine, where he was a checkweigher.

Edgar Ross, A history of the Miners' Federation of Australia ([Sydney] 1970; information supplied by E. Ross, 1990 & 1991; Barrier Daily Truth, (Broken Hill), 11 October 1944, p 3 []; Brian Kennedy, Silver, sin and sixpenny ale; a social history of Broken Hill (Melbourne, 1978) pp 134-35, 159-63.

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Citation details

'Kerr, George Reid (1876–1944)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Ballarat, Victoria, Australia


8 October, 1944 (aged ~ 68)
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia

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