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Charles John (Charlie) Haynes (1874–1927)

At the comparatively early age of 52 years Charles Haynes, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Railway Employees' Union, and a Director of this paper, passed to his fathers last week-end. His death was a shock to the membership of the Union and, indeed, to all except his very intimate friends, who had learned how serious was his short illness.

Widespread sympathy has been expressed towards his family and relatives, testifying to the deep regard and affection which the manly-hearted life and character of Charley Haynes had elicited. He was a man of equable temperament, a doughty fighter for the right, willing to the last ounce of his energy to serve his fellows, and a splendid type of that spirit of unionism which has made Australia a better place to live in.

Mr. Haynes was born in Perth in 1874, and as a young man took up railway construction work. At the dawn, of this century, he was employed as a ganger at Kirup, with his home in Bunbury. About twelve months before, there had been a commotion among railway men in Perth; a union of railway workers known as the W.A. Government Railways Association had been formed, and Bill Roche had been elected president. By 1900 the organisation's tentacles were reaching out into the country, and Mr. Haynes had joined the Bunbury branch. Several years later he was transferred to Perth. Making his mark at meetings of the Perth branch, he was elected a member of the branch committee.

Full of the urge to take a high place in the Union, he aspired to a seat on the general committee for the whole service, and was gratified in 1906 at receiving an appointment to represent Midland Junction. From that year onward he sat continuously on the committee, relinquishing the representation of Midland Junction to assume that of Bunbury, and finally sitting as a representative of Wagin.

The exigencies of his occupation caused Mr. Haynes to sever his connection with the Perth branch, and identify himself with Midland Junction, where he became successively vice-president and president, and in 1911 represented that branch at the union's triennial conference. During all these years of spade-work our deceased comrade was building up a considerable reputation for himself among railway men in all departments of the service in all parts of the State. So conspicuous had he become by 1910, that he was appointed general vice-president. Also in that year he was appointed to represent the union at the Labor Congress at Bunbury—this same honor was accorded him for the Fremantle Congress in 1913, and the Kalgoorlie Congress in 1916. He was also for some time a valued member of the State Executive of the A.L.P.

After serving as general vice-president for three years, he was promoted to the general presidency, and remained in the chair until April, 1917, when he succeeded Mr. Phil. Hunt as general secretary. It is a sad commentary on the abruptness of the changes that come in the lives of men that both Mr. Hunt and Mr. Haynes, inseparable friends as they were, are now no longer with us.

As general secretary of the Union, Charley Haynes won golden opinions, his straightness of character, conscientiousness, and great ability, made him the pivot around which a great organisation healthily revolved. Its routine activities prospered and in its big issues it was ever sane, yet venturesome. Charley Haynes believed that Unions should stick together, and he was, therefore, ever ready to help in the general movement. As a member of the State Disputes Committee he took a prominent part in the elucidation of vital industrial problems. He was one of the historic band which found a way out of the epochal Fremantle Wharf dispute, and on many occasions since, in reflective mood, was wont to recall its gravity and significance.

In addition to his comprehensive knowledge of the railway service and of the structure of trades unionism, Charley Haynes was one of the most accomplished arbitration court advocates in Australia. In 1917 he assisted Mr. E. H. Barker in presenting a case before the State Arbitration Court on behalf of five big unions having men employed in the railways. Two years later he conducted singlehanded the case for his own union, the W.A. Amalgamated Society of Railway Employees. The joint railway unions were again before the Court in 1920, and Mr. Haynes was the sole advocate for them. He conducted the Union's cases ever since, and was actually engaged in detailed preparation for another when seized by grievous illness. Besides these appearances before legal tribunals on behalf of workers, Charley was frequently engaged fighting for interpretations and enforcements of awards. The members of his Union will recall many appeal cases in which he successfully pleaded for their interests and there are many men in the service who personally owe him debts of gratitude.

From an obscure place in the Railway Service, he rose by sheer virtue of talent and application to a place of authority. His sympathies were ever capable of easy enlistment in the service of good causes. He worked in a real sense for humanity, and if spending one's days in the welfare of others be a title to nobility, then indeed, was Charley Haynes a noble man.

The funeral was largely attended by representatives of the various sections of our community, whose grief at the passing of an honorable man and a good citizen was manifest and sincere. The pall-hearers were the Premier (Mr. P. Collier), the Minister for Railways (Mr. J. C. Willcock), the president of the W.A. Amalgamated Society of Railway Employees (Mr. J. J. Elliott), the secretary of the Locomotive Engine Drivers' Firemen and Cleaners' Union (Mr. J. J. Kenneally), the Secretary for Railways (Mr. A. Tomlinson), and the secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (Mr. H. V. Symons). Others present included the Minister for Works (Mr. A. McCallum), the Minister for Lands (Mr. W. C. Angwin), the Minister for Agriculture (Mr. M. F. Troy), the Chief Secretary (Mr. J. M. Drew), and the Honorary Ministers (Messrs. J. W. Hickey and J. Cunningham), as well as members of both Houses of the Legislature and members of the railway service. Father Dunne conducted a service in St. Mary's Cathedral, and Father O'Neill officiated at the graveside.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • profile, Westralian Worker (Perth), 27 July 1923, p 5

Citation details

'Haynes, Charles John (Charlie) (1874–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


12 July, 1874
Perth, Western Australia, Australia


8 January, 1927 (aged 52)
Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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