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Sydney Smith (1887–1962)

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Sydney Smith (1887-1962) clerk in the railway service, trade union official and industrial advocate 

Birth: 1887 at Parramatta, Sydney, New South Wales, son of Richard Smith, nurseryman, and Amelia, née Harris. Marriage: 21 December 1911 in the Congregational church, Marrickville, Sydney, to native-born Myra May McAnulty (b.1891), a dressmaker. They had a daughter and a son. The marriage was dissolved on 30 March 1950. Death: 27 July 1962 in hospital at Parramatta; usual residence Sydenham Road, Marrickville, Sydney. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Resigned from Chief Accountant’s department and awarded gold watch in 1916. Assistant general secretary of the Australian Railway and Tramway Union (RTOA) about 1912. General secretary of the RTOA from 1914 to 1920 and representative of the railway salaried staff on the Wages Board.
  • In December 1916 appointed one of the joint secretaries of the Australian National Democratic Labour League, formed in opposition to the Australian Labor Party executive.
  • Asked to resign for his instrumental involvement in forming a new Station Masters’ and Night Officers’ Association (SMNOA), members of which were also covered by the RTOA. Smith advised them to resign but the SMNOA found difficulties in gaining both State and federal registration which failed in 1927.
  • Helped to form United Bank Officers’ Association (UBOA) during 1919-1920. Became first general secretary of the UBOA until his retirement in 1933.
  • Represented the association in NSW and other State courts.
  • Helped to organise the Government Service Women’s Federation of Australia (GSWFA) covering NSW Railway’s female officers and he successfully registered GSWFA within NSW jurisdiction in 1920, becoming moribund in 1924.
  • President of the NSW Insurance Officers’ Association in 1929.
  • Planned to practice as an industrial advocate after 1933.
  • Athlete in his youth.
  • Cause of death: cardiac failure (8 months), myocardial degeneration and arteriosclerosis.

Labor Daily,
13 January 1927; Australian Banker, 2 March 1933 p 7; Patmore PhD thesis pp. 456-59; Supplement to the Railway and Tramway Officers’ Association; Railway & Tramway Officers’ Gazette, 20 June 1923, p 1, 20 May 1923, pp. 1 & 15, 20 September 1921, p 1, 20 December 1920 p 1, 2 September 1916 pp 2-3.

Additional Resources

  • photo, Sunday Times (Sydney), 17 December 1916, p 9
  • short profile, Labor Daily (Sydney), 13 January 1927, p 8

Citation details

'Smith, Sydney (1887–1962)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

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