Category Archives: Labour history

Oily Sam Griffith’s moment of truth

 

Oily Sam Griffith’s moment of truth

Humphrey McQueen

Broadcast on Melbourne community radio 3CR   30 September 2017

Samuel Walker Griffith is known today from a NSW country town, an inner Canberra suburb and a Queensland university. The more politically aware might recall that he drafted the Commonwealth Constitution in 1891 and became the first Chief Justice in 1903, having served as Premier of Queensland and its Chief Justice from 1893. Continue reading

Malcolm Ellis: Labour Historian? Spy?

Malcolm Ellis: Labour Historian? Spy?

Andrew Moore
UWS, Macarthur

First published in Labour and Community – Proceedings of the Sixth National Labour History Conference, Wollongong, October 1999

When, on New Year’s Day 1952, Sir John Ferguson, the eminent bibliographer and Industrial Commission judge, wrote to his friend and colleague, M.H. Ellis, the anticommunist historian, he evinced sentiments with which many labour historians would agree. Continue reading

James Normington Rawling Collection

James Normington Rawling Centenary Seminar – 17 Apr 1998

This seminar was co-hosted by the ASSLH and the Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC) to celebrate the centenary of the birth of James Normington Rawling (1898-1966) returned serviceman, pacificist, rationalist turned CPA functionary, expelled from the CPA in 1939, flirted with Trotskyism, became chief informer at the Victorian Royal Commission on the Communist Party in 1949, was subsequently connected with Catholic Action and the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Rawling was a literary historian, a pioneer labour historian and unrivalled collector of Australian radical manuscripts, pamphlets and ephemera. Continue reading

Dedication doesn’t pay the rent – The 1986 Victorian Nurses Strike

DEDICATION DOESN’T PAY THE RENT! THE STORY OF THE 1986 VICTORIAN NURSES STRIKE.

by Liz Ross

First published in Hecate as “Sisters are doing it for themselves…and us”, Vol 13, No 1 1987. Reprinted as a pamphlet by Socialist Action September 1987.

 

 

1986 Nurses Cover

Nurses are often seen as the archetypal ‘hand-maidens’ of men. But if there was any one event that threw off this image once and for all, it was the Victorian nurses’ strike of 1986. Not only was the nurses’ dispute important for nurses, it is a valuable lesson for all women workers and those who write about them. All too often, the focus is on women workers’ passivity, their super-exploitation and the problems they face in breaking through their conditioning.

While it is obviously important not to dismiss these difficulties and problems, this approach focusses too much on women’s weaknesses. What it fails to take account of it is that, when they become involved in struggle, women can quickly break out of this passivity. Continue reading

Port Adelaide Workers Memorial

Speech by Humphrey McQueen at the Port Adelaide Workers Memorial
May Day 2011

Pt Adelaide workers memorialOne does good, neither from fear of punishment nor promise of reward, but because good is good to do. They were the sentiments of the nineteenth-century American Rationalist, Colonel Robert Ingersoll, whose writings would have been popular with some the people whose names went on to the Workers’ memorial. Continue reading

The secret seminars before the dismissal

 

Stephen Holt

First published in The Canberra Times’ Public Sector Informant December 2015

Troy Bramston and Paul Kelly’s new book, The dismissal: in the Queen’s name, refers to a private seminar arranged for then governor-general Sir John Kerr at the Australian National University in September 1975.

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Fighting Labor’s Cuts – The NSW Social Security strike, May–June 1988

FIGHTING LABOR’S CUTS:
The NSW Social Security strike, May–June 1988

 Eris Harrison and Dave Main, 1989

 Introduction

Since the mid-1970s, Australian workers have been on the defensive. There have been minor actions (for instance over wages in 1981), but they have been heavily outweighed by spectacular defeats, like the dismembering of the BLF and by the passivity and lack of confidence of workers in the face of major cuts to wages and conditions orchestrated by the Hawke government.

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The fight for jobs. Social Security 1981

 

 Grey Collar

Published by Public Servants Action Group

The dispute in the Department of Social Security which exploded in the last two months of 1981 was an important turning point for ACOA. Hundreds of members were stood down for up to 6 weeks, large chunks of the Department were paralysed and the industrial action peaked with a 3 day strike of the entire union in NSW. Continue reading

‘IN THE CAUSE OF THE WORKER’: THE LIFE OF JOHN DIAS

 

Victor Isaacs

Abstract: John Dias was an active unionist from the 1890s to the 1920s. His experiences included the Queensland shearers’ dispute, with William Lane’s utopian Australian settlements in Paraguay, in Broken Hill during two major disputes, prominence in the Kalgoorlie goldfields’ unions, with the Melbourne Trades Hall and Victorian Labor Party, and in particular leaving a mark on the Carpenters’ Union. Today he is commemorated by a plaque bearing a very generous tribute at the main entrance to the Melbourne Trades Hall.  But he is little remembered. This paper will document his peripatetic and varied career in the labour movement. Continue reading

An Australian Newspaper in Paraguay 1894–1904

 by Victor Isaacs

THE AUSTRALIAN SETTLEMENT IN PARAGUAY

Following the failures of the maritime dispute in 1890, the shearers’ dispute in 1891 and the great economic depression of the early 1890s, many in the Australian working class came to the conclusion that Australia would not become a workingman’s paradise. Some sought other solutions, such as starting anew elsewhere. Continue reading

Labour Dailies

 

by Victor Isaacs

Introduction

This is not an article based on deep research – it is more in the nature of a survey of already published information, with a bit added by me. It surveys labour daily newspapers in Australia, that is, newspapers controlled by the labour movement, which attempted or claimed to provide a comprehensive daily news service. Continue reading