September 27, 2023

TWU pays tribute to Bruce Penton, true TWU legend

The TWU mourns the sad passing of Bruce Penton, former TWU NSW Assistant Secretary. A member for over 42 years, his contributions to our movement have proved invaluable.

Having started out as a Linfox delegate, Bruce quickly led the charge in NSW to fight to lift industry standards through a national wage claim. He remained a delegate at Linfox before starting as an organiser with the TWU in 1998. With more than 20 years of experience in the transport industry under his belt, Bruce was a valuable asset to our union. We pay tribute to a true blue TWU legend and champion of the Union Movement.

Bruce began his career in the transport industry at the age of 15 where straight out of school he started work at Anthony Horderns, the biggest retailer in NSW at that time. From there, Bruce went to work for H and D Mcrae, a waterfront company, until it was taken over by Linfox.

During his time on the road Bruce spoke to many other drivers at truck stops who told him stories of how they were being ripped off by unethical companies; not getting enough work or pay to support their families.

The issues hit home and inspired him to be more active in the Union. In 1994 Bruce became the delegate at his Linfox yard where he remained as a delegate before starting as an organiser with the TWU in 1998.

Bruce never looked back and committed himself to building union strength throughout the transport industry by never missing an opportunity to sign up members and take up their battles as if they were his own. He transformed workplaces: those with few or no members soon had more than 90 per cent TWU membership.

He was responsible for the recruitment of over 800 members, mostly bus drivers during the 2000 Olympic Games, implementing and overseeing ‘Bus 2000’.

Bruce’s huge wins as an organiser drew the attention of wider Labor Movement. On being nominated for the inaugural Labour Council Organiser of the Year in 1999, Workers Online described Bruce as an effective organiser, who from “the day he first walked into the office … had been the most enthusiastic, innovative and open-minded unionist.” After only one year as an organiser Bruce, up against more experienced union officials won the award.

Bruce’s calm but determined leadership led to an acceleration through the ranks of the TWU. In 2004, Bruce was elected as the Sydney Sub-branch Secretary and in 2009 he took over the position of NSW State Assistant Secretary.

On his retirement Bruce said:

“I have immensely enjoyed my time at the TWU. Being a part of the union over the years has been a gift that keeps on giving.  I have had the chance to help people and be a part of a force much bigger than myself.”

This is a true reflection of Bruce and we thank him for his tireless contributions to our movement.

State Secretary Richard Olsen and the NSW branch would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to his family during this challenging time.


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