Bill Denman (1911-2001)

Elisabeth Edwards

Elisabeth Edwards’ obituary on Orange labour figure Bill Denman, which appeared in the Central Western Daily on 6 February, 2001, is reproduced below with the kind permission of the author and the Central Western Daily. Elisabeth Edwards is the Deputy Editor of the Central Western Daily, and has written a number of books on the local history of Orange, including, Weapons to Whitegoods, Celebrating Email’s 50 years in Orange, Local History Series – No. 3, Orange City Council, Orange, 1996.

A long term stalwart of the union movement in Orange, Bill Denman, has died aged 89. Mr Denman, a tool grinder, was for many years secretary, then president, of the Combined Unions at Email’s Orange plant.

Former personnel manager Frank Hoy said yesterday that Mr Denman had been a fearless spokesman for up to 1700 workers at the plant. “There were lots of major industry issues [to discuss] and he was always very constructive in his approach to negotiations,” Mr Hoy said. “It was a real pleasure to work with him. I always respected him for his straightforwardness and integrity.”

Retired toolmaker and former secretary and convenor of the Email Combined Unions, Tony Siemer, said yesterday Mr Denman had worked hard to improve conditions and wages for Email workers, including a bid to set up a superannuation scheme, which did not eventuate at that time, a 38-hour working week and increased annual leave. “He was always very approachable,” Mr Siemer said. “He was a man of the people.”

Representing the Glenroi Progress Association in the early 1950s, Mr Denman ensured that the ‘Duration Cottages’, built near the factory when it was a munitions plant during WWII, were handed over to a co-operative building society so they could be sold to tenants at a time of an acute housing shortage in Orange. He also campaigned for better facilities for Glenroi residents.

Mr Denman was also for many years chairman of the Orange Base Hospital Board, where he was well respected. Mr Denman is survived by his wife Ruby, son and daughter-in-law Norm and Marion and Grandson Andrew.