Tom Audley

Audley, Tom (1892-1982)

B. South Melbourne, 3 Jan 1892, son of Charles and Bridget (nee Brown), immigrants from New Ross, Ireland M. Amanda (Madge) Roden, no children ?? D. 31 Dec 1982.

Eldest of four children, was child when father died. Attending local Catholic School took odd jobs washing and cleaning to supplement family income. Leaving school aged 14 went to work with wine and spirit business but sacked for joining union, event which made him ‘a bit of a rebel’. Blacklisted for a time but then worked as barman and shop attendant. Joined Wholesale Storeman & Packers Union, 30 March 1912.

Membership of Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club brought him into contact with other young radicals forming No-Conscription Fellowship during WWI. Joined WIIU, elected general secretary and treasurer, editor of One Big Union Herald and assisting survival of this journal and WIIU into 1920s. Joined and helped build up weak and demoralised Shop Assistants’ Union, active on a number of wage boards, ALP conference, Five Day Week Council and Trades Hall Council. Once defeated J.V. Stout in union election forcing incumbent THC President to seek union nomination elsewhere Worked closely with both ALP (joined during Depression) and CPA; ALP later recognising his 40-year service, particularly in Thornbury and Northcote branches, with medal, though in Cold War was expelled because of asserted links with communists. Reinstated on appeal.

1959+ active in Pioneers of Progress and 1961-1982 ASSLH, Melbourne branch, as treasurer, elected life member. Friend of La Trobe Library, Melbourne and supporter former South Melbourne FC. Never sought paid office in any union or party but ‘always understood that the only way of improving his own position in life was to advance the condition of the whole working class’. Aged 80 joined pickets at front doors of supermarkets when late Friday night shopping reintroduced.

Recorder, 76, June 1975; 3, 96, Oct 1978, Feb 1983; Shop Assistant, 1983

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