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Francis Greentree (1907–1987)

by Peter Sheldon

This article was published:

This entry is from People Australia

Francis Raymond (Ray) Greentree (1907-1987), dam construction labourer, construction carpenter, ranger, and rank and file union organiser.

Birth: 17 September 1907 in Petersham, New South Wales, son of Hercules Raymond Claude ‘Bob’ Greentree, a native-born farrier, railway construction, and Caroline Elizabeth, née Dubois, born in NSW of French parentage. Marriage: 19 April 1930 at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Picton, NSW, to Esme Ivy May Ayrton. They had one son and four daughters. Death: 9 August 1987 in Bowral. 

  • Employee, NSW Public Works Department, construction, Avon Dam, 1923-25, Nepean Dam 1925-28.
  • Member, Australian Workers’ Union, Railway Workers Industry Branch and Builders Labourers’ Federation. Employee, Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage (MWSD) Board, September 1928, Nepean Dam, retrenched in 1929.
  • Relief work, fruit picking during 1930s Depression.
  • MWSD Board employee 1933-September 1972: Nepean Dam, 1933; Woronora Dam c.1936 to 1947; Warragamba Dam 1947-72. Plant driver, labourer, carpenter and ranger. Member of the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage Employees Association while Board employee.
  • Active in disputes at Nepean, most significant rank and file activist, Warragamba Dam branch.
  • Frequent electoral rival to W. A. McPherson and R. E. Savage’s ruling group from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. With John Palmer Building Workers’ Industrial Union of Australia delegate instrumental in forming and leading area Combined Unions’ Committee and through it negotiating sale of township homes to their residents.
  • Brother Robert Claude (Bobbie) Greentree (1922-1984) was also Water Board activist and member of the Communist Party of Australia.

Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage Employees’ Association, Minutes and Warragamba Dam Branch minutes; Ray Greentree and John Palmer, interview, 1 April 1985, Bargo, NSW; NSW Water Board staff records; communication from Ms Pat Rolfe (daughter); Picton Post, n.d. (August 1987?); Peter Sheldon, Maintaining control: a history of unionism among employees of the Sydney Water Board, PhD thesis University of Wollongong, 1989.

Citation details

Peter Sheldon, 'Greentree, Francis (1907–1987)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

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