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Terence Cecil Winter (1906–1980)

by Suzanne Jamieson

This article was published:

Terence Cecil Winter (1906-1980), trade union official and conciliation and arbitration commissioner, was born on 21 April 1906 at Granville, Sydney, eldest of three children of Silas Winter, bricklayer, and his wife Lizzie, née McGregor, both born in New South Wales. Silas suffered intermittent unemployment and his experiences no doubt influenced his son. Terry sang in the choir of the local Methodist Church. Later he was to be sceptical of dogma, whether religious or political. Educated at public schools and Sydney Technical High School, he began work in 1922 as a junior clerk with Elliott Bros Ltd, chemical manufacturers.

On 4 July 1923 Winter was appointed a junior clerk with the Sydney Municipal Council. He joined the Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees' Union of Australia in 1927. At St Stephen's Church, Newtown, on 26 April 1930 he married with Anglican rites Fannie Hazel Vermeesch; they were childless and later divorced. In 1935 he was transferred to the Sydney County Council. Active in his union, he served as president (1938) and secretary (1939-45 and 1946-47) of the Town Hall branch. He spent two years from November 1944 in Perth as secretary of the Western Australian Municipal, Road Boards, Parks and Racecourse Employees' Union of Workers and the West Australian Local Governing Bodies Officers' Association Union of Workers. On 23 May 1947 at the district registrar's office, Paddington, Sydney, he married Beryl Ellen Lewis, a 27-year-old stenographer who helped him with his union work.

Elected federal secretary of the M.E.U. in 1947, Winter displayed extensive knowledge of the industrial relations system. In 1949-50 he and W. P. Evans represented the Australian Council of Trade Unions in the basic wage case before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Winter was a lifelong member of the Australian Labor Party and a leading opponent of the industrial groups in the State branch. In 1952 he spent six months overseas on a Commonwealth Bank of Australia scholarship to study industrial management. Elected to the A.C.T.U. executive in 1957, he formed close relationships with R. J. L. Hawke and with Ray Gietzelt of the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia. Winter visited the People's Republic of China (1958) and the Soviet Union (1959) as an A.C.T.U. delegate, and also toured Israel (1959). In 1962 he led the Australian workers' delegation to the forty-sixth session of the International Labour Conference at Geneva and the seventh congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions in Berlin.

On 16 April 1963 Winter was appointed a commissioner on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. His primary responsibility was for the metal trades industry. He kept up a tenacious programme of workshop inspections despite serious injuries, sustained in a motorcar accident, to his right leg. Among the more able of the tribunal's members, he conducted (1966-67) a major work value inquiry into the metal trades. In 1970 he awarded equal pay to women in the industry. He retired from the commission on 21 April 1971 and was appointed O.B.E. that year. After working as a research officer with the F.M.W.U., he set up in 1973 as a consultant in industrial relations; his reports to the Federal government included Power over Prices and Incomes (Canberra, 1973).

Winter was a 'man's man' who behaved towards women with grace and consideration. An avid reader, he enjoyed the classics—especially works by Marvell and Shakespeare—humorous publications, and literature dealing with life and politics beyond Australia. His tastes in music ranged from the compositions of Beethoven, Mozart and Gershwin to jazz and musicals. He was a talented, self-taught carpenter and cabinet-maker. Keen on football, cricket and bushwalking, he was physically adventurous, once attempting to cross a flooded creek by motorcar and having to be rescued by a bulldozer. He died on 14 August 1980 at Manly and, after a large, non-religious funeral, was cremated. His wife and their younger daughter survived him. Hawke paid tribute to his learning, intellect, internationalism, commitment to the ideals of democratic socialism, and generosity of spirit.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Murray, The Split (Melb, 1970)
  • J. Hutson, Six Wage Concepts (Syd, 1971)
  • B. D'Alpuget, Mediator (Melb, 1977)
  • Counsellor (New South Wales), Aug 1947, June 1963
  • Federation News, Aug-Sept 1971
  • G. B. Kitay, Federal Conciliation and Arbitration in Australia 1967-1981 (Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1984)
  • Winter papers (National Library of Australia)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Suzanne Jamieson, 'Winter, Terence Cecil (1906–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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