Beeby, Doris (1894–1948)

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Beeby, Doris (1894–1948)

Australian union organizer. Born Doris Isabel Beeby on July 30, 1894; died on October 17, 1948; one of four children of Helena Maria (West) and Sir George Stephenson Beeby (a labor politician and judge); attended Church of England Grammar School for Girls, Sydney, Australia; attended University of Sydney as an unmatriculated arts student.

Australian-born Doris Beeby began her career in 1920 as an associate to her father following his appointment as a judge of the New South Wales Industrial Court of Arbitration and president of the Board of Trade. Her duties included assisting the inquiry into a reduction of working hours—from 48 to 44—for the iron and building trades. She continued with her father after his appointment to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in 1926, where he supported practices geared to raising productivity and linking wage levels to increased profitability.

In 1939, Beeby was in London, where she joined the Spanish Relief Movement which offered aid to refugees from Spain's Civil War, as well as to those from Great Britain's Communist Party. Returning to Sidney, she joined the Australian Communist Party and worked as an organizer for the Sheetmetal Workers' Union. Her work focused on improving working conditions and pay equity for the many women hired during wartime. To better understand her constituency, Beeby took a job in the factory. She resigned as an organizer after the war, when the number of women in the union fell off.

Through the United Associations of Women, Beeby supported the Women for Canberra Movement and the Australian Women's Charter, which attempted to address the needs of women in the postwar social order and to mobilize a political force to insure that those needs were part of reconstruction efforts. The Charter, though widely supported, eventually fell victim to the Cold War, which divided support and destroyed the movement. Beeby also wrote for the Tribune and the Australian Women's Digest, the monthly publication of the United Associations of Women. After a lifetime commitment to better conditions for laborers, Beeby died on October 17, 1948, following a long battle with cancer.