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Alan Alfred Wilson (1900–1980)

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Alan Alfred Wilson (1900-1980) fitter, trade union official and Communist 

Birth: 15 September 1900 at Rockdale, Sydney, New South Wales, son of native-born Alfred William Wilson (1872-1953), labourer, and Jessie, née McLean (1868-1962). Marriage: 1927 at Bathurst, NSW, to Eunice May Drew (1903-1984). They had three children. Death: 5 August 1980 in hospital at Croydon, Sydney; usual residence Croydon Park, NSW. 

  • Started as apprentice fitter with NSW Railways in 1917. Joined the tradesmen in the 1917 strike along with most of the apprentices even though he was not in the union. Dismissed, along with others, for failure to return to work on a certain day early in the 1917 strike.
  • Worked on railways and joined Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) in 1920 in last year of apprenticeship. Dismissed during a downturn in the industry and the government chose not to re-employ those apprentices who had participated in the strike.
  • Re-employed after three years in about 1924 at Bathurst. President of Bathurst branch of AEU and shop steward.
  • Transferred to Eveleigh locomotive workshops in 1927 and became shop steward and delegate to central shop committee of Eveleigh loco workshops. Active in establishing railway shop committees. Secretary of the Central Council of Railway Shop Committees from 1939 to 1945 (resigned to take up organiser’s position). Elected AEU divisional organiser in 1945.
  • Member of Commonwealth Council of the AEU from 1947 to 1954 and from 1956 to 1961. Commonwealth trustee. Representative on Labor Council Rules Revision committee. Trustee and minute secretary of Burwood branch of AEU.
  • Returned to work on railways after being defeated in union elections. Active in disentangling the AEU from its historic connections with its British counterparts, which freed up the union for its new amalgamation. Awarded AEU’s Order of Merit in 1966 for serving more than forty years in office in the union. Retired from AEU in 1968.
  • Member of Australian Labor Party. Secretary of Bathurst ALP League in 1920s, which fought against ‘Langism’. Prominent in 1930s against war and fascism including being a delegate from Eveleigh carriage works to Paddington Town Hall conference of 1934 from which the peace movement grew.
  • Continued struggle against ‘Langism’ in ‘Heffron Party’ in 1940. Member of central executive of the State Labor Party (Hughes-Evans Labor Party) from 1940 to 1944, including position of vice-president, until its amalgamation with Communist Party of Australia. Member of central committee of CPA from 1944.
  • Member of Australian Council of Trade Unions’ social services committee for ten years.
  • Active in Retired Members’ Association, AEU, including State vice-president in 1971-75. Elected delegate to Australian Pensioners Association (APA) conferences from 1971. Vice-president of the APA in 1972 and president from 1973. State President of the Combined Pensioner Association from 1975.
  • Cause of death: cachexia and bronchogenic carcinoma.

John Playford, Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis, ANU, 1962, p 434; Metal Worker, October 1980 p 6; AMWSU Quarterly Journal, October-December 1980; Tribune (Sydney), 13 January 1944, No. 33, p 4, 29 November 1947, No. 372, p 1; Sixty Years of Struggle, Vol. 1 1980, pp 45-48.

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'Wilson, Alan Alfred (1900–1980)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012