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Henry Joseph (Harry) McPhillips (1915–1962)

Prominent personalities in the working class movement were among more than 100 mourners at the funeral of the late Harry [Henry Joseph] McPhillips last Thursday.

Among them were the secretary and president of the Communist Party, Messrs. Sharkey and H. Dixon, the assistant secretary of the Labor Council of NSW, Mr. B R. Marsh M.L.C., and the secretary of the South Coast Labor Council, Mr. E. Harvey.

In his oration at Rookwood Crematorium, Communist Party central committee member, Mr. T. Wright, paid tribute to Harry McPhillips as "a staunch and militant fighter in the working class movement." 

Outlining the late Harry McPhillips' life of struggle, Mr. Wright said that the deceased had begun work during the depression, and as a young man had gone through a period of unemployment and relief work.

It was in this period that he had joined the Communist Party. 

During world war two, Harry McPhillips had gone to work in the metal industry and had played a leading role among the workers as chairman of the shop committee in the Department of Aircraft Production plant at Mascot.

After the war, he took on a difficult job, organising for the Communist Party in Western N.S.W. and at Broken Hill.

In 1948, he became active in the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Workers Union, and became an organiser of that union. 

For the last fourteen years was a union official.

He did a lot to build the Hotel Club and Restaurant Workers Union, and, after its amalgamation with the Liquor Trades Union, he played an important role, organising in the Illawarra District.

He had special abilities as a union organiser, and was very successful organising in an especially difficult industry. He had plenty of initiative, energy and ability, and won very wide esteem.

Mr. Wright said that a colleague had said that Harry McPhillips worked so hard that this may have contributed to his early death.

He had an active, useful life in the working class movement, and his death is a great loss to his union and to the Communist Party, and as a tribute to him we should recruit new fighters to take his place.

Mr. Wright extended sympathy to Harry McPhillips' widow and relatives.

A further tribute was paid at the Labor Council of NSW on Thursday night, where delegates stood in silence after the secretary of the Council, Mr. J. Kenny MLC, had moved that the late Mr. McPhillips' services to the trade union movement be placed on record.

Seconding the resolution, Mrs. Flo Davis said that Mr. McPhillips' death was "a great loss to our organisation and to the trade union movement generally. He was always an energetic and resolute representative of his class," she declared.

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Citation details

'McPhillips, Henry Joseph (Harry) (1915–1962)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

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