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Tom & Mary Wright : [3]

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Thomas (Tom) Wright was born in Scotland and emigrated to Australia, where he was apprenticed in the sheet metal working trade at the age of fourteen. Wright joined the Sheet Metal Workers' Union in 1921 and in 1924 was appointed to the New South Wales Branch Executive. He was the NSW Branch Secretary from 1936-1972, and was Federal President of the Union from 1940-1972.

Tom pioneered amalgamations of the SMWU with the Jewellers' & Stove Makers' Unions in the 1930s and 1940s and contributed to the formation of the Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union. At the time of his retirement in 1972 he was the NSW State President and National Vice-President of the Amalgamated Metal Workers' Union.

Tom was the Sheet Metal Workers' Unions' delegate to the ACTU from 1938 to 1972, serving on the ACTU Executive for many years and on its Shipbuilding Sub-Committee from 1946-1963. He was actively involved on the Executive of the NSW Labor Council from the 1920s until his retirement in 1972. He was a member of the NSW Labor Council delegation which travelled to China and the Soviet Union in 1927. In 1943, Wright helped found the Metal Trades Federation on which he was a Sheet Metal Workers' Union delegate.

With his wife, Mary, Tom Wright played a substantial part in the long campaign to achieve equal pay for women and was an active campaigner for Aboriginal rights. Tom died in Sydney on 10 January 1981.

Mary Wright was born in 1903 in Sydney. At age 17 she married wharfie John Lamm and they had four children before his death from cancer in 1931. Mary and John were active unionists, with John being involved with the Waterside Workers' Union and Mary joining the Militant Women's Group in the 1920s. In 1930 Mary stood as the Communist Party of Australia candidate for Annandale. The CPA did not perform well in the election, but Mary was shocked and embarrassed to have been their most successful candidate.

Mary met Tom Wright through their work with the Unemployed Workers’ Movement. They began a relationship, living together for the next ten years before eventually marrying in 1941.

Mary was a founder of the International Women’s Day celebrations in Sydney and in 1936 became President of the first Sydney IWD Committee. She was involved in the formation of the Council of Action for Equal Pay in 1937 and became a State Council member of the United Associations of Women, taking part in drawing up the Women’s Charter of equal rights. She was a member of the New Housewives’ Association and a member of its successor, the Union of Australian Women when it was formed in 1950.

In 1953 Mary and Tom Wright moved to Bankstown, where Mary became President of the Bankstown Branch of the UAW. Mary resigned from the CPA with Tom Wright in 1971 and joined the new Socialist Party of Australia. Mary died in Sydney on 18 April 1993 at the age of 90.

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