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Herbert (Bert) Carter (1878–1958)

by Chris Cunneen

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Herbert (Bert) Carter (1878-1958) tailor and trade union leader 

Birth: 1878 in Warrnambool, Victoria, son of Samuel Carter, saddler, and Jane, née Lucas. Marriage: 6 September 1911 in East St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria to Clemence Sylvia Woodgate, music teacher. Death: 14 February 1958 at Ascot Vale, Victoria. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Worked in Warrnambool and Melbourne. Secretary, Amalgamated Society of Tailors (Vic.) 1904-7. Committed to comprehensive amalgamation and federation of clothing trades unions. First major leader of Federated Clothing Trades' Union (FCTU). Secretary, Victorian Branch FCTU 1907-13, defeating Alf Wallis for position in 1910.
  • Appointed Federal secretary FCTU in 1913, initially a part-time, unpaid position. Despite withdrawal of NSW Branch (1914), worked to achieve further organisation and a federal clothing trades award. An "arbitrationist", he opposed plans by Wallis and others for OBU. Led union's case for Federal Award, 1919.
  • In 1920 "loaned" by Victorian Branch to be full-time Federal secretary. 1927 full-time federal secretary. Position weakened as a consequence of depression of early 1930s. His calls for Federal action to resist wage cuts went unheeded by State Branches, most of which sought to return to State awards. 1932-3 threatened Federal intervention in NSW Branch. Resigned secretaryship in 1933 after position was made honorary (temporarily) and stripped of many of its powers.
  • ALP councillor for Hopetoun ward, Melbourne, from 1926 to 1944.

Argus (Melb) 23 April 1926 p.12, Age (Melb) 22 August 1944 p.2; Bradon Ellem, In women’s hands? A history of clothing trades unionism in Australia (UNSW Press, Sydney 1989). 

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Chris Cunneen, 'Carter, Herbert (Bert) (1878–1958)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

© Copyright Labour Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia


14 February, 1958 (aged ~ 80)
St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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