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Sydney Thomas (Ivo) Barrett (1907–1980)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

Last week saw the passing of two stalwarts of the Waterfront: Matt Munro and Ivo [Sydney Thomas] Barrett. Both were in their mid-seventies and were ex-members and officials of the Waterside Workers Federation, Sydney Branch. Their time as wharfies spanned the period from the bull system to permanency and both played significant roles in the WWF's fight to take wharfies from chaos, disunity and want, to order, unity and a guaranteed wage.

Syd (Ivo) Barrett Ivo was a product of the waterfront. His father was a wharfie and he became one in the early '20s. At that time he was anti-communist but a good unionist who thought that wharfies could get a better share of the shipowners' wealth.

As an ALP member, he stood for a VO position in the early '40s and was elected. He at first opposed the struggle for the gang system in 1943 but when he saw its benefits, he supported it. In the '40s he also became a WWF federal councillor. He worked with Jim Healy and Tom Nelson and later said that from his contact with such people he learned to think correctly. Because he supported communists and stood on tickets with them, he was expelled from the ALP in the early '50s. At the time, he defended his standing with communists because they battled for the members and the members knew this and voted for them. Ivo said that those responsible for his expulsion (the industrial groupers led by Jack Kane) were anti-working class and would one day be exposed. Kane later became a DLP leader. Ivo remained a WWF officeholder (Sydney and Federal) until 1970 when he retired. (He was then a federal councillor and Sydney branch assistant secretary.) He gave selfless service to the WWF and the workers. Condolences to his wife Midge, and family.

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Citation details

'Barrett, Sydney Thomas (Ivo) (1907–1980)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Barrett, Sidney Thomas

7 April, 1907
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


15 November, 1980 (aged 73)
Nowra, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (lung)

Key Organisations
Political Activism