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Dorothy (Dot) Chalker (1908–1995)

by Olga M. Tatrai

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Dorothy Alice (Dot) Chalker (1908- 1995) trade union leader

Birth: 24 September 1908 in Mittagong New South Wales, daughter of NSW-born parents James Chalker (1873-1919), malthouse worker, and Annie Marion, née Hayward (1882-1967). Unmarried. Death: 3 August 1995 in Sydney. 

  • Began schooling at Mittagong aged 6. Moved with family to Bankstown in 1918, continuing schooling at Canterbury Girls' Home Economics School and then St George High School. Following her father's death she went with her mother and sister to Newtown. First permanent job aged 17 was at J. R. Love & Co Ltd, packaging flour. She was instrumental in unionising factory in 1928, year of first award. Became union delegate from Love's to NSW branch of Federated Millers & Mill Employees' Association of Australasia (FMMEAA).
  • Appointed justice of the Peace in 1937. In 1938 was elected secretary of male-dominated FMMEAA (listed on ballot paper as 'D.A. Chalker', prompting unsuccessful challenge by male nominees).
  • In 1940 was a member of Labor Council of New South Wales. In 1957 was a member of Trades & Industrial Hall & Literary Institute Association of Sydney Ltd.
  • Supporting mother and herself on secretary's salary, she worked for award improvements in regard to annual leave, sick leave, long service leave and adult rates of pay for males and females at 18 years of age. Learnt about workings of arbitration system and industrial law from scratch, filing all claims by union and members.
  • Retained secretaryship until retirement in February 1976, afterwards continuing to take active interest in union affairs and to pursue reading, her favourite interest (despite suffering from iritis since school days).

Who's Who of Australian Women, 1982; Union News (FMMEAA, NSW branch), June 1976; O. M. Tatrai, interview with Dot Chalker, 1989.

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Citation details

Olga M. Tatrai, 'Chalker, Dorothy (Dot) (1908–1995)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 June 2024.

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