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James (Jim) McPherson (1876–1955)

The General President of the A.W.U. (Mr. H. O. Davis) who is also secretary of the Victoria-Riverina Branch of the Union, reports the death of Jim [James] McPherson, one of the old timers of the Union and a former Branch Secretary in Victoria.

Writing in 'The Australian Worker' Branch Secretary H. O. Davis writes: It is with profound regret that I have to inform members of the death of James McPherson, late of 78 Whyte Street, Middle Brighton, on the morning of Wednesday, August 3, last.

Jim MacPherson, who was an official of this Branch up till the time he retired in 1951, was one of the best-known and most-loved personalities in the Trade Union Movement. His death, at the age of 79 years, ended a life-time of association with the Trade Union and Labor movements, with which he had so closely identified himself.

'Big Mac' — as he was so often called — joined the Creswick Branch of the Australasian Shearers' Union in 1894. In 1895 this Union amalgamated with the General Labourers' Union, which covered shed hands and other pastoral workers, exclusive of shearers.

Later in that year the organisation became known as the Australian Workers' Union and the office was shifted from Creswick to St. Arnaud. Jim acted as Shed Rep. and Shearers' Rep. on many occasions. 

In 1901 he was appointed as an organiser under the late Ted Grayndler, a position which he held for 12 months. When the office was shifted to Ballarat in 1904, he became a delegate to the Branch Committee, and was also elected to the Executive Council as Vice-president for Victoria. He occupied the latter position up to 1910.

In 1908 he was re-elected organiser, and he resigned from the Branch Committee. He did organising work until 1920, when he was appointed in charge of the Melbourne office as agent for Melbourne until such time as the Branch Office was established in that city. When the branch eventually operated from Melbourne he continued working in the office.

Upon the death of Branch Secretary Dave Gunn in June, 1943, he was appointed Branch Secretary, and in the succeeding Branch elections was re-elected to that post. He was also elected delegate to Convention and delegate to Executive Council.

As a result of heavy pressure of work during the war years, Jim found himself in a position where the responsibilities of secretaryship, if continued, would have impaired his health.

In 1946, therefore, he resigned as Branch Secretary. The Branch Executive thereupon appointed him Assistant Secretary, which position he held up to the time of his resignation from all positions in September, 1951.

In 1946 he was also elected Branch President and held that position for two years, when he resigned. For seven years, ending in 1951, he was the Branch's delegate to the Melbourne Trades Hall Council.

On the occasion of his retirement, in 1951, he said this: 'I desire to express my sincere appreciation of the assistance and co-operation extended to me by the officials and office staff of the Union, the Branch Executive, and members generally. This help was forthcoming at all times.

What he did not mention was the ceaseless and untiring work he had given to the Australian Workers' Union, which was his life. He was always possessed of an unfailing courtesy and was always liked and respected by those with whom he came in contact.

Jim left a daughter and two sons, his wife having predeceased him several years ago.

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Citation details

'McPherson, James (Jim) (1876–1955)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • MacPherson, James

Meredith, Victoria, Australia


3 August, 1955 (aged ~ 79)
Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Key Organisations
Political Activism