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Murdoch Alexander (Alex) McIver (1898–1980)

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Murdoch Alexander (Alexander, Alex or Sandy) McIver (1898-1980) gaoled trade union official

Birth: 1898 at South Melbourne, Victoria, son of Murdoch McIver (1858-1948), seaman, later labourer, born at Glasgow, Scotland, and native-born Agnes Rosetta, née Mackay (1858-1925). Marriage: 1952 at Eltham Victoria, to a widow, Agnes Myrtle, née Eskett, late Chapman (1894-1964), born at Christchurch, New Zealand. They had no children. Death: 30 December 1980 at South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria, usual residence Godfrey Avenue, East St Kilda, Melbourne. 

  • Worked as a wharf labourer in Melbourne.
  • Served 11½ years in gaol on charges arising from strike activities in 1928-29, in which Prime Minister Bruce threatened a ‘state of emergency’ under the Crimes Act and further measures, and Federal Attorney General John Latham charged the Waterside Workers’ Federation under an amended Arbitration Act with ‘inciting to strike’. The union was fined and police opened fire on waterside workers demonstrating against strike breakers in Port Melbourne which resulted in one death (Alan Whittaker) and three men wounded.
  • McIver and four others were charged with being on the street in the vicinity of the Greek Club, where strike breakers congregated, and causing malicious damage by means of an explosive substance with the intent to murder. He, Timothy O’Connell and Francis Delaney were convicted on 28 February 1929 and sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment – the maximum sentence. Two others, his brother Norman William McIver (1900-1990) and Stanley Gordon Williams, were found not guilty.
  • An appeal to the High Court failed. McIver was released in October 1939.
  • McIver is believed to have been innocent. His gaol sentence resulted in medical problems and many years in hospital.
  • After his release he lived for a time with his brother and sister-in law and resumed work as a waterside worker. Later, his occupation was clerk. He was vigilance officer in the Waterside Workers’ Federation (WWF). Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, WWF, Melbourne branch; senior vice-president.
  • Sometime member of the Sydney branch of the WWF and federal officer WWF.
  • Cause of death: bronchopneumonia (7 days), congestive cardiac failure (3 months), hypertension (years), paraplegia due to osteoarthritis spine (4 months).

Maritime Worker
, February 1980, Recorder, May 1981.

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Citation details

'McIver, Murdoch Alexander (Alex) (1898–1980)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 June 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Alexander McIver, 1928

Alexander McIver, 1928

Crookwell Gazette (NSW), 19 December 1928, p 2

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • McIver, Sandy

South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


30 December, 1980 (aged ~ 82)
Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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