The ACTU would like to pay tribute to the commitment and leadership of unionist John Halfpenny who died at the weekend after a long illness, at the age of 68.

A former Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council from 1987 to 1995, John was also Victorian Secretary of the AMWU and an ACTU Executive member.

John Halfpenny was born into a trade union family, in north-west Victoria, where his father was secretary of the local branch of the railways union.

He was an organiser for the Amalgamated Engineering Union during the 1960s, becoming Secretary in 1970 and later, Victorian Secretary of the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.

As Secretary of the VTHC he championed workers rights, particularly during an antagonistic attack from the Victorian Liberal government in the 1990s. In November 1992, he led one of the biggest protest marches in the states history, when 100,000 people rallied against the Kennett government’s industrial relations laws.

John Halfpenny was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1998.

He is survived by his wife Karen and children. His daughter, Bronwyn is currently one of the Victorian assistant secretaries of the AMWU.

A memorial service will be held in late January.

Greg Combet
ACTU Secretary

Sharan Burrow
ACTU President