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My Union Right or Wrong.
A history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union 1900-1932
By Issy Wyner


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Jack Trainor

JACK TRAINOR joined the Union on 10th April, 1911. His early history is unknown but he served in the First World War and, after the War, as an ex-soldier, he campaigned against war whenever the opportunity presented itself. In the Domain, he spoke against war, declaring that he was a "six-bob-a-day murderer" in the First World War, and called on everyone to resist any call to join the Army.

When the treatment of Returned Soldiers came up at a Union meeting, Trainor seconded a motion from Bill Swadling

That we protest the action of the Federal Government in reducing the Old Age, Invalid and Returned Soldiers Pensions, also reduction in wages and that a strongly worded letter be forwarded to the Prime Minister and the Labor Daily.

Though both were members of the Labor Party, they saw no difficulty in giving vent to their frustration and anger at the actions of the Federal Labor Government of Scullin and the meeting, too, gave vent to its feelings by carrying the motion. (Minutes, 20/7/1931.)

Trainor joined with O’Keeffe in moving for members who went to work on the night of a stop-work meeting to be brought before a meeting to explain their action; and also supported O’Keeffe in moving for two members to be elected to join an ALP deputation to the Premier to protest against the 32-questionnaire form which applicants for the dole were required to complete. (Minutes, 20/10/1931.)

When O’Keeffe proposed the radical motion to hold a ballot of members for the introduction of a roster system of employment, Trainor once more supported him, and saw the motion carried by 86 votes to 67.

In the election of officers at the outset of 1932, he nominated for Vice President, but was defeated by Harry Walke. Similarly, in the election for members of the Management Committee, he and O’Keeffe were defeated. (Minutes, 11/1/1932.)

The minutes do not indicate whether radical or simple freedom of expression views influenced members in their voting at a Union meeting, when Communist Party publications were discussed. A motion by Joe Carlin which Trainor seconded, was carried by the meeting stating

That we the members of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia, New South Wales Branch, emphatically protest against the action of the Post Master General in banning from the mails the Workers Weekly, Red Leader, Woman Worker, Pan-Pacific Worker and Soviets Today. (Minutes, 15/2/1932.)

Adopting a militant stand on another issue, Trainor spoke up for a proposal submitted by members of the Communist Party, to

reject the Logs (of claims submitted by employers) and set up a rank and file committee to fight against same in the event of it becoming an award.

This was rejected by the meeting. But, in doing so, the meeting carried a motion which also proposed rejection of the employers’ Logs of Claims "with contempt", but did not propose any form of action. (Minutes, 29/2/1932.)

On 14th March, 1932, Trainor joined in wishing Charlie Weston, the President, bon voyage on leaving Australia for good.

Jack Trainor became a popular Labor alderman on the Balmain Municipal Council in the 1930s.

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Last modified: January 19, 2003

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