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Parkinson, William (Bill) (1907–1986)

William Parkinson (1907-1986) trade union official

Birth: 1907 Seaham, County Durham, England. Son of John (Jack) Parkinson, coal miner, and Sarah Ann nee Bell. Marriage: 9 July 1938. Virginia Catherine nee Comensoli. They had one son, one daughter. Died. 29 December 1986.

  • Attended Byron Terrace School Seaham; at age 13 was school-boy international soccer player.
  • Fifth generation miner; commenced work at Seaham Colliery aged 14.
  • Arr. Australia 1926. Worked with father in coal mines in Burragorang Valley and elsewhere on NSW South Coast; secretary Nattai-Bulli Lodge by age of 21.
  • Commenced work at Mt. Keira mine 1938, becoming Lodge president.
  • Joined Communist Party (CPA) 1941.
  • Took prominent part in 1945 Port Kembla strike.
  • Elected Southern District president of Miners' Federation 1947, retaining office until 1955;
  • 1947 organised demonstration of 2,000 miners at NSW Parliament House against 'dust', resulting in all mine workers affected by 'dust' in lungs being granted full compensation;
  • gaoled for six weeks during 1949 coal strike;
  • survived letter campaign against his leadership by Federal ALP leader Dr. H.V. Evatt in 1952;
  • accomplished orator.
  • Communist candidate at 1954 Federal elections;
  • became member CPA Central Committee 1955. Elected Federation general president 1954, taking office Feb. 1955; as one of first actions, revived Combined Mining Unions Council, disbanded after 1949 strike; re-elected unopposed 1956;
  • led 1955-58 campaign against retrenchments and for government funding for work for dismissed miners; visited Europe, Soviet Union and China 1961;
  • with general secretaries G.H. Neilly and W. Mahon developed capacity for compromise, becoming chief architect of unity in Federation and CMU in 1960s under left-wing leadership;
  • Federation delegate for many years to South Coast Labour Council, NSW Labor Council and ACTU;
  • prominent in union opposition to Vietnam war; also served record 14 years on miners' Pensions tribunal;
  • retired from presidency on pension November 1967.

Edgar Ross, A History of the Miners' Federation of Australia (Sydney, 1970); information from E. Ross, 1990 & 1991; Tribune 17 Nov.1966; Common Cause 25 Nov. 1967 & 21 Jan. 1987.

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Citation details

'Parkinson, William (Bill) (1907–1986)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/parkinson-william-bill-31933/text39390, accessed 28 July 2021.

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