Vale Neil Byrne
The Australian Society for the Study of Labour History (ASSLH), Perth Branch is very sad to announce the passing of our President, Neil Byrne, after a long illness. A fitter by trade, Neil joined the Amalgamated Engineering Union (now the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union) in 1956, and served for many years as Education Officer for the WA Branch of the AMWU. In 2014, he was honoured with the naming of the Neil Byrne Library in the AMWU WA State Office, which stands as a legacy to Neil's commitment to the union, education, the working class and the emancipation of all peoples. He was also a life member of the ALP (WA Branch) and a holder of the AMWU's highest honour, the Gold Award of Merit.
Neil was elected President of the ASSLH Perth Branch in 1998 and continued in the role until his death. Always a humble and effective leader, Neil was a tireless advocate for labour history and played a significant role in all of our major research projects. In particular, he encouraged union officials and rank and file members to be involved in collecting the histories of the Midland Government Railway Workshops and the East Perth Power Station. He continued to fight for a rail heritage centre at Midland. In March this year, in 40 degree heat and despite his illness, Neil spoke at a meeting of former workers on the Workshops site, urging them to continue campaigning to achieve a heritage centre in one of the Workshops buildings. Neil just never gave up.
Predeceased by his wife, Maureen, Neil is survived for his four daughters and their children.
Bobbie Oliver, A/g President, ASSLH Perth Branch.