2001 ASSLH conference – Choosing the path of resistance: Union strategies in the Queensland coal industry, 1954-67

Bradley Bowden
Griffith University


This paper records the struggle waged by the Queensland Colliery Employees’ Union, the state branch of the Miners’ Federation, in defence of jobs between 1954 and 1967. This struggle was unsuccessful, in that it failed to achieve its objective of protecting underground jobs. Despite this failure, however, the campaign to defend the collieries produced organising techniques and an industrial vision that proved the salvation of the union. When the union began a large-scale organising campaign in open-cut mining after 1967 it took to this new sector a tradition of militancy and resistance that no other coal union could equal.


The last 30 years of the twentieth century were difficult ones for trade unions and their members. As traditional areas of employment declined and overall union membership fell a sense of uncertainty was clearly evident in the ranks of the Australian union movement. During the 1980s and 1990s the Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Unions both abandoned their allegiance to the tenets of “labourism”—whereby tariffs and compulsory arbitration had protected jobs and wages—in favour of economic and labour market deregulation. This involved an attempt to construct new cooperative relations with business in the interests of economic efficiency and global competitiveness. In taking such steps, labour leaders have been supported by a body of academics who argue that unions can only survive by meeting management’s legitimate interests. In their influential study of changing patterns of industrial relations in the United States, Kochan, Katz and McKersie, for example, noted that union survival depended on their ability to provide for “increased trust, commitment, and cooperation at the workplace rather than further institutionalisation of adversarial relationships.”1 Such sentiments have been mostly recently echoed in Australia by David Peetz, who has contended that, “Employers will encourage unionisation if this gives them an advantage in terms of productivity or flexibility over non- union firms.”2 Unfortunately, this embrace of management interests has, to date, done little to slow a decline in union membership.

In examining the crisis confronting the Australian labour movement today we need to remind ourselves that crises of jobs and union membership are hardly new. Indeed the history of organised labour is littered with industries and communities destroyed by changing technology and tastes. It is also littered with the gallant, but ultimately lost, struggles waged by workers to defend their traditional ways of life. For labour historians the value in studying such struggles is not one of simply recording a lost world. It is also a matter of discerning how the values and traditions that are generated in one context are transferred to other contexts. The purpose of this paper is to examine one such experience—the struggle of Queensland’s coal mining communities to defend their traditional patterns of life during the 1950s and the 1960s. It is the paper’s contention that, while this campaign was unsuccessful, the union’s determination to resist management’s dictates on how coal would be produced left an enduring legacy. As new, opencut coal mines emerged in Queensland from the late 1960s these traditions of resistance were passed to them from the old underground sector, ensuring the survival of Australian unionism in what was effect a new industry.

Resisting productivity enhancement: Cooperation and conflict in coal

In the Preface to their 1902 edition of their classic work, The History of Trade Unionism, the Webbs observed that a “whole century of experience” had demonstrated to workers and their union representatives that: “they could not resist the evidence of the necessity for maximising productivity”.3 If acceptance of the necessity for productivity improvements were, according to the Webbs, self-evident truths, then coal miners would appear a peculiarly pig-headed class of employees. In their study of the interindustry propensity of workers to strike, for example, Kerr and Siegal (1954) listed mining as one of only two industries which was in the “high” category in every country studied. With regard to Australia, Kerr and Siegal observed that the propensity to strike was high in every period studied.4 Despite the Australian union movement’s general embrace of the need for productivity enhancing workplace reforms during the 1980s and 1990s, levels of industrial conflict have remained extremely high in this sector. In 1996, for example, the industry lost 7,171 days per 1,000 employees to strikes, compared to an all industries average of 131 days lost.5 The passage of legislation to restrict union activity by the Howard government since 1996 has likewise failed to restrain the nation’s coal miners. As this paper is being written in March 2001 most of Queensland’s coal miners are on strike for seven days, despite a Federal Court injunction banning such activities.

The coal industry’s record of industrial disputation begs the posing of two questions. First, what is it that produces such an industrial record? Second, and perhaps more significantly, does this record of conflict in fact obscure powerful cooperative tendencies between capital and organised labour, such as exists in other industries? In answering the first question a series of international and Australian studies have emphasised how the product market and, in particular, the constant tendency for production to exceed demand, has shaped the behaviour of coal miners. As the Webbs observed in another classic study, Industrial Democracy: “The policy of restricting output of coal in proportion to the demand for it at the current prices has always remained a leading principle of the Coalminers”.6 In Australia, Mauldon and Fisher have similarly linked the coal industry’s record of industrial conflict with fluctuations in the product market.7 While coal miners and their unions might accede to employer demands for lower wages and/or increased productivity during downturns, any concessions were recontested during the next upswing in the industry. As McGrath-Champ has observed with regard to the NSW coal industry: “The boom/bust economic cycle has created a cyclical industrial relations philosophy”.8

If the constant tendency of the coal industry to oversupply its markets has been identified as the major cause of its high levels of industrial conflict, these same tendencies also, paradoxically, provide the basis for collaboration between owners and coal unions. For, if unrestrained increases in production tend to produce a vicious cycle of lower prices, profits and wages, the stabilisation of production tends to produce the opposite effects. Where coal owners have attempted to enforce limits on productions, or Vends, the existence of a strong union capable of enforcing a floor for wages have been a prerequisite for success of such schemes. While such arrangements during the nineteenth century lacked legal status, in the twentieth century cooperative efforts by both owners and unions to restrict output were frequently supported by legislative enactment. In the United States, for example, the Guffey-Vinson Act of 1937 introduced state regulation of prices and output into that nation’s coal industry for the first time with the support of both the United Mineworkers of America and the larger coal owners. Similarly, while the relative conservatism of Queensland’s coal miners prior to the 1950s can be attributed to a number of specific, state-related factors (see below), the industrial cooperation between coal unions and owners primarily reflected agreement on the issue of limiting production. Initially this accord rested on voluntary agreements between owners that were supported and enforced by the union. From 1933, however, this informal process was replaced by state sanctioned controls on the production, distribution and sale of coal following the passage of the Coal Production Regulation Act.9

Given that the search for the stabilisation of output within the coal industry has produced both periods of conflict and cooperation between coal unions and employers it would be wrong to characterise the coal mining workforce as inherently anti-management. Such a view would appear particularly misguided when considering opencut workforces, which are increasingly displacing underground workforces in most industrialised nations.10 To understand what it is that produces a sense of industrial militancy, and even class consciousness, among coal miners it is clearly necessary to move beyond generalities about the nature of the industry to a consideration of the specific historical circumstances in which coal miners find themselves. In the case of Queensland, this allows us to understand the forces that caused an historically conservative workforce to choose the path of resistance.

The Queensland coal industry to 1954

While coal has been mined in Queensland since the 1840s the industry produced a relatively conservative mining workforce, divided along locality lines. In his history of the Miners’ Federation, for example, Edgar Ross noted the “tardy development of stable union organisation” in the state, attributing this to a “blurring of class lines and stronger tendencies towards [class] collaboration” in the Queensland industry.11 This conservatism largely reflected the predominance of small-scale undercapitalised operations, where owners and workers often laboured together. In contrast to New South Wales, increased output reflected a proliferation of small mines, rather than increased mechanisation. In 1894, for example, there were 24 Queensland collieries, producing an average of 12,500 tonnes per annum. By 1934, there were 85 collieries, producing an average of 11,000 tonnes. In other words, the average Queensland colliery in 1934 was actually less productive than it had been 40 years before. 12

If the small-scale nature of Queensland’s collieries acted to blur distinctions between master and men in most districts, geography also acted as a barrier to the emergence of a common sense of industrial identity. Broadly there were six distinct coal districts in Queensland: Ipswich-Bundamba, Rosewood, Darling Downs, Burrum-Maryborough, Central Queensland and North Queensland. Of these six districts, Ipswich-Bundamba was the most important. It was here that the continuous organisation of the state’s miners began in 1906 with the establishment of the West Moreton District Coal Miners’ Union. In May 1908, following an approach for membership by miners at Bluff in Central Queensland, this body decided to “embrace every coal mine worker in Queensland”, changing its name to the Queensland Colliery Employees’ Union (QCEU).13 In 1915 this body affiliated with the Miners’ Federation, thus linking Queensland miners with the more militant traditions of their southern counterparts. Despite this affiliation, however, the QCEU retained its own distinct, more conservative identity. While there was, over time, a gradual expansion of mining in all Queensland coal districts, in 1947 the Ipswich-Bundamba district still contained a third of the QCEU’s total state membership of 3,103, and 27 of its 70 branches. Of the other five districts, three—Rosewood (a rural area to the west of Ipswich), the Darling Downs and Burrum-Maryborough—were dominated by small-scale operations with a distinctly local outlook.14 In these districts the authority of the Ipswich-based union was often weak, as local miners frequently ignored union directives and industry awards.15

Reinforcing the traditional conservatism of Queensland’s coal miners was the cooperative relationship that developed between the QCEU and employers. As mentioned above, the growth of the QCEU was, in large part, premised on the larger employer’s acceptance of the need for regulation of the production and sale of coal. Unfortunately for the industry, while the passage of the Coal Regulation Act, 1933 secured existing jobs and stabilised both prices and wages it did little for the safety or efficiency of the state’s mines. As Bowden and Barry have observed, “state regulation…did little to redress its underlying economic problems, leaving Queensland with a primitive and under-capitalised industry which was poorly placed to meet post-1945 competition from alternative energy sources.”16 These failings meant that, despite the success of the long period of capital-labour cooperation in producing stability of employment and prices, from the mid-1930s both miners and owners became increasingly disillusioned with the state of the industry.

The most significant development to occur in the industry prior to the 1950s was the expansion of coal mining in Central and North Queensland. Of particular importance was the development of large, state-owned mines on the initiative of the Ryan Labor Government. Despite some early failures three mines were well established by the mid-1920s—Collinsville, Mt Mulligan and Styx. In addition to these three mines, large privately-owned mines were established at Blair Athol and Scottsville. By 1947, one-quarter of the QCEU’s membership were concentrated in just 11 Central or North Queensland mines.17 After 1942 miners drawn from these two districts assumed a dominant role in the QCEU’s affairs, pushing the union well to the left. This development reflected more than just the impersonal relationships in the large northern mines. It also reflected a Communist Party (CPA) campaign to expand its influence in the union. At Collinsville and nearby Scottsville this campaign was led from 1933 by a former teacher, Jim Henderson, who quickly assumed a position of leadership in the Collinsville union. By 1937, communist support at these mines was so strong that miners at both Collinsville and Scottsville were having donations for the CPA deducted from their pay.18

From 1942, when Millar, a former Collinsville miner and communist, was elected as President of the QCEU, activists drawn from the large northern mines assumed an importance in the union out of proportion to their numbers. As Pete Thomas has observed, “the men who worked at the state mines—and particularly those at Collinsville and Styx— created and sustained what were among the most outstanding branches of the Queensland miners union”.19 Besides Millar, who served as President from 1942 to 1952, and 1955 to 1964, this group included Cyril Vickers (QEUE Secretary from 1961 to 1971), Chick Petersen (QCEU Secretary 1971 to 1980) and John Maitland (QCEU Secretary from 1980 to 1984 and General President of the Miners’ Federation from 1984). It was such activists, drawn from an atypical section of the industry, who were to guide the union through its most difficult years.

The campaign to save the collieries, 1954-67

In the early 1950s, despite the rapid spread of mechanisation in NSW, the Queensland industry remained largely unaffected by technological change. Sheltered from change, employment in the Queensland industry reached an historic peak of 3,741, almost all of who were employed in small collieries. The next 13 years were, however, to be terrible ones for the state’s miners, as the traditional underground sector succumbed to multiple threats. During this period there were four factors that undermined the viability of Queensland’s collieries. First, there was mechanisation itself. Effectively, this began in 1954 with the introduction of obsolete NSW machinery into two Ipswich mines. As QCEU Secretary, Cyril Vickers observed, the resultant increase in output at these two mines “caused the coal owners in this State to recognise the potential of mechanical means of production.”20 Unfortunately, increased output due to mechanisation was sold into a depressed market. This depressed market reflected a second threat to the collieries—a loss of the government orders due to the switch to diesel-powered locomotives on the state’s railways. Between 1956 and 1962, for example, the amount of coal ordered by Queensland rail declined by 43 per cent, which equated to 11 per cent of Queensland’s entire coal production for 1956.21 This decline in rail orders was felt most severely in the small regional fields, where by 1957 the QCEU was reporting “growing unemployment”.22

If mechanisation and declining government orders combined to threaten jobs, a third threat to the traditional underground sector came from an increase in production from open-cut mines in Central Queensland. As early as 1946 the union had expressed concern as to the impact of this still infant sector on underground employment, warning that it had the potential to produce “a flood of coal [that] will be used against our members”.23 Government approval for an expansion of the Thiess-owned Kianga/Moura open-cut mine during 1957 highlighted this threat. As the union observed, the expansion of the open-cut sector threatened “the very security of underground mines”.24 A final threat to the collieries came with the election of a Country Party government in 1957 which, by 1963, had either sold off or closed Queensland’s remaining state mines.

From 1954 the prospects for the survival of Queensland’s underground mining workforce looked increasingly bleak. Despite the odds arrayed against it, however, the QCEU never contemplated the adoption of a passive role, reduced to negotiating severance deals for displaced miners. Instead it declared “that wherever machines or new methods of production displace our members, we will fight such displacement of members with the full strength of the Queensland membership”.25 Rather than the years after 1954 being ones of demoralisation and defeat, they became ones of unparalleled militancy in the history of the Queensland coal industry. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of this campaign was the willingness of miners to put aside their traditional parochial outlook. Threatened with collective destruction even the state’s most conservative miners in the Rosewood and Darling Downs’ districts united together in a series of coordinated strikes, stay-in occupations and political actions.

At an early stage the QCEU realised that a campaign to stave off redundancies and mine closures could not be successfully mounted at a workplace level. Instead, a number of new forms of organisation were adopted. First, members employed by a company that owned several mines were instructed to form “merger committees”, enabling workers at more profitable operations to strike in support of those facing closure.26 Second, “area committees” were established to enable miners in each district to wage coordinated industrial and political campaigns in defence of jobs. In addition, “combined union committees” were established with other unions covering workers in the coal industry to overcome traditional occupational divisions. Third, the wives and daughters of miners were systematically organised for the first time on a statewide basis, with directives to all branches to facilitate the formation of “women’s auxiliaries”. Besides supporting working miners in any industrial dispute, these women’s auxiliaries played a key political role in pressuring parliamentarians to take action to protect local jobs.27

Where redundancies and mine closures did occur the union responded with a range of new and traditional industrial tactics. The most novel response was the use of “stay-down” occupations in threatened collieries. While the first “stay- down” in the Australian coal industry had occurred at Wonthaggi in 1936, such tactics were a novelty in Queensland. Prior to the late 1950s the only “stay-down” had occurred at Collinsville in 1952 in support of a pay claim. In 1958-9, however, six mine occupations occurred within a period of less than 12 months, all in the defence of jobs. The first of these “stay-downs” occurred at the Caledonian mine in the traditionally conservative Rosewood district in February 1958, when workers occupied the mine to protest against redundancies. This occupation quickly became the focus of what was described as a “campaign against dismissals”.28 Following the successful Caledonian “stay-down”, which resulted in sacked miners being reinstated, similar actions were carried out at three other collieries in the ensuing months. In each case the “stay-downs” provided a focus for campaigns by miners and their supporters.29 Where such tactics proved incapable of halting job losses the QCEU insisted that any redundancies occur in accordance with seniority provisions to ensure that there was no victimisation of union militants.30

Underpinning the QCEU’s struggle to defend jobs was the articulation of an alternate vision of the coal industry’s role in the Australian economy. Central to this vision was the belief that coal was a finite resource that should be used for the benefit of both the nation and the local communities dependent upon it for their survival.31 The QCEU’s alternate vision for the industry was expressed at a number of levels. At a local level the union sought to restrict any further increases in output by resolutely opposing over-time. At a state level the union lobbied the government to have the Queensland Coal Board utilise its powers to control the production, distribution and selling of coal. At a national level the union called for nationalisation and the implementation of a 35-hour week.32 In the end, however, the union’s leadership saw all of the above measures as mere palliatives. The ultimate goal was socialism. Increasingly this objective was seen not as an abstract goal, but rather as the only hope for the salvation for Queensland’s collieries and their workers. In supporting a union campaign for a coal-fired powerhouse at Swanbank near Ipswich, for example, the union’s president reminded members that “this would only temporarily relieve the problem of the rapid growth of mechanisation…the only final answer…is Socialism.”33

Unfortunately for the QCEU’s leadership, while they may have been correct in linking the salvation of Queensland’s underground sector with state-regulation in the interests of both producers and consumers, this outcome was not forthcoming. In the end the union’s campaign to save the collieries was doomed to defeat, as employment in the industry underwent a catastrophic fall between 1954 and 1967. While local victories were won, these seldom proved more than a stay of execution. Between 1954 and 1967 total employment in the Queensland industry fell from 3,741 to 2,225, with only 1,498 of the latter being in the traditional underground sector. Particularly hard-hit were the small outlying fields that relied on strictly local markets for their survival. Between 1947 and 1963, for example, the number of miners employed on the Darling Downs fell from 222 to 91. By 1973, only 16 were left.34 While, from 1967, employment in the state’s coal industry began to recover due to the rapid expansion of the open-cut sector, this did little for the traditional collieries, which continued to disappear. If, by 1967, however, it was clear that the struggle to save the collieries had failed, this campaign nevertheless left behind a legacy that was to shape the development of new union traditions in the open-cut sector.

The legacy of the Queensland underground sector after 1967

In 1967 the QCEU changed its organisational attention from the underground sector to the expanding open-cut mines in Central Queensland. Whereas, previously, the union had largely seen employment in open-cut mines coming at the expense of underground miners it now declared that the organisation of the former was “vitally important” to the future of the union.35 While these efforts proved successful the union nevertheless found itself in a weak position in this expanding sector. Numerically, QCEU members were a minority of the workforce in the open-cut industry, as other unions—notably the Federated Engine Drivers & Firemen’s Association (FEDFA), the Australian Metal Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Electrical Trades’ Union (ETU)—gained increased coverage. Nor did the union control the key areas of production as it had in the underground sector, with these passing instead to the FEDFA. Despite these weaknesses, however, the QCEU and its parent organisation, the Miners’ Federation, inherited from its underground membership an intellectual, physical and organisational legacy that was to ensure its eventual dominance.

Intellectually, the experience of the period 1954-67 had highlighted for the leadership of the QCEU that there were no issues more important than the control of production and employment. While other unions might fight for higher wages and conditions for their members, for the QCEU these issues, while important, were matters of passing significance. Unlike the coal owners, the QCEU alone had the foresight to see that the immense productive capacity of the open-cut sector, if unrestrained, would eventually produce yet another crisis of production and jobs. For this reason the QCEU became a resolute opponent of what it referred to as “continuous production”, meaning the mining of coal through continuous rosters on all seven days of the week. It was this opposition that made the QCEU the key union in open-cut mining, as it fought for an industrial vision fundamentally at odds with that of the owners and the other coal unions.

For the QCEU, and the Miners’ Federation as a whole, the steady erosion of the union’s membership base in the underground sector after 1967 highlighted the continued importance of regulating production. While underground job losses were most pronounced in Queensland, the rapid growth of open-cut mining in Queensland was also associated with a loss of employment in NSW. In the latter state, underground employment almost halved between 1980 and 1994, falling from 16,312 to 8,984, as mines lost contracts to open-cut producers.36 At both a federal and state level the Miners’ Federation refused to accept these redundancies as the inevitable result of industry restructuring, in which the union would be compensated for the loss of membership in one sector by increasing employment in the other. In 1972, for example, the union’s central council issued a statement declaring “that, in Queensland, as in NSW, open-cut production should be regulated” in order to defend jobs elsewhere in the industry.37 Such statements were not mere rhetoric, but rather a clear guide for action. In Queensland during the 1970s and 1980s the union enforced its policy of uncompromising opposition to “continuous production” in the open-cut sector, even though this policy necessarily involved a loss of short-term employment. Any transgression of this policy was considered a serious matter, with the QCEU warning in 1979 that “any member of this Union who enters into an agreement with a coal company for the implementation of a continuous shift roster, will face expulsion from the Union.”38

If the intellectual legacy of the 1950s and 1960s was a coherent vision as to how the union should focus its attention on controlling production, this vision was given substance by the movement of QCEU members from underground mining to the open-cut sector. These ex-underground miners, many of who came directly or indirectly from the former state mines, were a small minority of the new open-cut workforce. Their industrial experience, however, ensured that they played a role out of all proportions to their numbers, dominating the leadership of a number of new branches, including Goonyella, Blackwater and Moura.39 Organisationally, the influence of the ex-underground miners and their traditions was entrenched by the transfer from the underground sector of the institutional forms and techniques developed during the period 1954-67. At the mine-site level the focus of activity was the branch, composed of elected delegates who negotiated matters of local significance. Linking the branches were “merger committees” that united all miners employed by the same producer. Originally designed for defensive actions in the underground sector, merger committees now became centres for offensive campaigns across a number of pits. Of particular importance in this regard was the merger committee covering the operations of Utah, the industry’s dominant employer in the 1970s and 1980s.40

If, in 2001, both the QCEU and its parent organisation, the Miners’ Federation, are no longer with us, the traditions of these bodies nevertheless continue to resonate through the campaigns waged by the Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (Mining & Energy Division). Established as a result of the amalgamation of the Miners’ Federation and the FEDFA, the CFMEU continues to see itself as more than a bargaining agent for its current members. As the Australian coal industry enters another period of industry rationalisation, falling prices and declining employment, the CFMEU has become virtually a lone voice in favour of industry-wide regulation. Like its predecessors, the QCEU and the Miners’ Federation, the CFMEU has pursued a variety of strategies to restrict the damaging consequences of deregulation. Its members have gone on strike to protest against the coal owners’ acceptance of low prices. It has called for a re-introduction of export permits and other regulatory controls. It has established alliances with international mining unions. To date such strategies have been unable to reverse a catastrophic decline in employment in the Australian coal industry, which fell from 26,406 in June 1996 to 20,296 in December 199841. If the CFMEU’s campaign to defend jobs in the industry has, however, failed to achieve its principal objective, it has nevertheless maintained something else—a tradition of resistance to the coal owners’ demand that they alone have the right to decide the future direction of the industry.


For trade unions and their members there is nothing more difficult than responding to fundamental changes in technology and/or economic fortunes that permanently undermine employment prospects. In such circumstances neither collaboration nor resistance can guarantee either jobs or continued employer recognition for the principles of collective bargaining. This paper has recounted how one union, the QCEU, responded to such a situation. Despite its historic status as one of the most conservative branches of the Miners’ Federation, the QCEU chose the path of uncompromising resistance to change, rather than the path of collaboration. This mobilisation reflected more than just a desire to maintain state regulation of output and prices. It also reflected a political campaign waged by communists and other militants as part of a wider social struggle for the achievement of socialism. Against all odds, the union mobilised the state’s coal underground coal miners and their local communities in a campaign that remains without peer in the history of the Queensland industry. Between 1954 and 1967 the union organised strikes and “stay-down” mine occupations in defence of jobs. It mobilised miners’ wives and other members of the mining communities in political campaigns against privatisation and deregulation. It developed new organising techniques and structures. Perhaps most significantly, the union articulated its own coherent vision for the industry, based around collective ownership and control of production. Despite such efforts, however, the campaign to save the collieries failed, forcing the union to shift its organising efforts to the emerging open-cut sector it had once opposed. Yet if the union failed in its campaign to save the collieries, it retained an intellectual, physical and organisational legacy that it was to take into open-cut mining. In the end this legacy proved the salvation of the union, giving it a vision and organising capacity that no other coal union could equal.


1 T. A. Kochan, H. C. Katz, R. B. McKersie, The Transformation of American Industrial Relations, Basic Books, New York, 1986, p. 231.
2 David Peetz, Unions in a Contrary World, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1998, p. 14.
3 Sidney and Beatrice Webb, “Preface to the 1902 Edition”, in The History of Trade Unionism, Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1902, p. xviii.
4 Clark Kerr and Abraham Siegel, “The interindustry propensity to strike—an international comparison”, in A. Kornhauser, R. Dubin and A. Ross (eds), Industrial Conflict, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1954.
5 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Industrial Disputes, Australia, 1996, Canberra (Cat No. 63322.0)
6 Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Industrial Democracy, Webbs, 1920, p. 447.
7 F. R. E. Mauldon, The Economics of Australian Coal, Melbourne University, Melbourne, 1929; Chris Fisher, Coal and the State, Methuen, Sydney,1987. For a recent discussion of the relationshiup between product markets and industrial relations in the Australian coal industry, see Bradley Bowden, “A Collective Catastrophe: Productivity Maximisation and Workplace Bargaining in the Australian Coal Industry”, Journal of Industrial Relations, 42 (3), September 2000, pp. 364-82.
8 Susan McGrath, “Industrial Restructuring in the New South Wales Coal Mining Industry”, Labour & Industry, 2 (3): October 1989, p. 427.
9 Bradley Bowden and Michael Barry, “The Greatest Curse…was Unrestrained Competition: Regulating Competition in the Queensland Coal Industry, 1900 to the 1930s”, Labour History, No. 75, November 1998, pp. 195-216.
10 In 1999, for example, the majority of the coal produced in the United States came from opencut mines in western states, rather than eastern underground mines. See World Coal, 9 (4): April 2000, p. 15.
11 Edgar Ross, A History of the Miners’ Federation of Australia, Australian Coal & Shale Employees’ Federation, Sydney, 1970, p. 121.
12 “Annual Report for the Department of Mines, 1935”, Queensland Parliamentary Papers, Vol.2, 1936, p. 156.
13 West Moreton District Coal Miners’ Union Committee of Management Minutes, 21 May 1908. Noel Butlin Archives, series E165, file 43.
14 Peter Thomas, The Coalminers of Queensland: Creating the Traditions, QCEU, Ipswich, 1986, p. 623.
15 Queensland Colliery Employees’ Union (QCEU) Divisional Board Minutes, 15 November 1945 (Note: all QCEU records dated 1945 or later are held by the CFMEU (Mining & Energy Division) in Brisbane).
16 Bowden and Barry, The Greatest Curse…was Unrestrained Competition, p. 213.
17 Thomas, The Coalminers of Queensland , p. 623.
18 Jim Henderson, Memoirs of a Communist, Manuscript. Held by Janet Henderson, Dutton Park, Brisbane, pp. 16-89.
19 Thomas, The Coalminers of Queensland, p. 99.
20 Cyril Vickers, “Effects of automation and mechanisation”, Paper given to the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, April 1967.
21 Thomas, The Coalminers of Queensland, p. 437.
22 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 2-4 October 1957.
23 QCEU Divisional Board Minutes, 1-2 August 1946.
24 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 18 February & 1-3 March 1961.
25 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 26-8 November 1958.
26 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 1-3 June 1960.
27 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 1-3 June 1960.
28 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 19-24 February 1958.
29 Thomas, Coalminers of Queensland, pp. 449-93.
30 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 12-14 February 1953 & 25-27 June 1958.
31 Common Cause, 29 July 1967
32 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 12-4 February 1953, 24-7 February 1960, 25 February & 1-3 March 1961
33 QCEU Board of Management Minutes, 25 February and 1-3 March 1961
34 Thomas, Coalminers in Queensland, p. 281
35 Common Cause, 30 September 1967.
36 Joint Coal Board (JCB) & Queensland Coal Board, Australian Black Coal Statistics, 1980-94.
37 Peter Thomas, Miners in the 1970s, Miners’ Federation, Sydney, 1983, p. 302
38 QCEU Board of Control Minutes, 16-22 October 1979
39 Thomas, Coalminers of Queensland, p. 100.
 40 Kevin Hince, Conflict and Coal, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1982, p. 93.
41 JCB & Queensland Department of Minerals, Australian Black Coal Statistics, Sydney, 1999, p. v.