Category Archives: Industrial labour

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

Riches beneath the flat

by Ross Mainwaring

Extract from the book Riches beneath the flat: A history of the Lake George mine at Captain’s Flat
Published by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia 2011

Captain’s Flat – Riches 

You can purchase a copy from lightrailwayresearchsocietyofaustralia.cart.net.au

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.

Continue reading

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

A Centenary of the Queensland BLF (1910-2010)

 Humphrey McQueen

(The Queensland Journal of Labour History, 11 September 2010, pp. 24-31.)

The Queensland branch the Australian Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (ABLF) is unique in keeping the BLF name alive for the Federation’s centenary on 9 September 2010. Continue reading

Navvies rocked this city – Canberra 1911-16

Navvies rocked this city
Canberra 1911-16[1]

 Humphrey McQueen

Canberra Historical Journal, New Series, 67, December 2011, pp. 17-24.

For the Federal Area to become a Federal Capital on the ground as well as in law, hundreds of navvies had to construct before tradesmen and other labourers could build.[2] Continue reading

Foreign workers

  Humphrey McQueen (2012)

Media coverage of the ALP’s deal with Rinehart to import 1,715 skilled and semi-skilled construction workers for Roy Hill has been as intense as it has been shallow. These notes place the 457 visas and Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs) in larger contexts – industrial, economic, political and social-cultural. Continue reading

Pig Iron

3CR,  ‘Solidarity Breakfast’, 14 December 2013

Humphrey McQueen

Seventy-five yeas ago, the wharfies at Port Kembla were in the middle of a two-month strike. They were not out over wages or working conditions, crook though both were. They were in a political strike to stop the export of pig iron to Japan. Continue reading

Asbestos

Humphrey McQueen

Extract from Framework of Flesh, Builders Labourers Battle for Health and Safety, Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, 2009, pp. 134-40

Between 1945 and 1955, Australian production of fibro sheeting from asbestos cement trebled from 8 to 23 million square metres. By 1961, one house in six was fibro. The self-builder favoured this material because it was cheap, easy to apply and available. The advertising said nothing about harms. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – Much more than green bans

 

Much more than green bans: locating the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation in the history of international trade unionism
 

Verity Burgmann and Meredith Burgmann

Abstract

The green bans movement of the New South Wales Builders Labourers’ Federation (NSWBLF) was immensely significant, but has tended to overshadow the union’s other achievements. This paper marks the fortieth anniversary of its green bans that commenced in 1971 by offering a more broad-ranging tribute to this extraordinary union. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – ‘A not unimportant role’: industry peak unions and inter-­union organising

 

‘A not unimportant role’: industry peak unions and inter-­union organising

Cathy Brigden

Abstract

Since the mid 1990s, there has been a significant expansion in the literature analysing peak unions. However, most of the research has focused on national, state and regional peak unions, with little attention given industry-scale peak unions. Just as peak bodies have long been part of the union landscape in many towns and cities, so too industry peak bodies have similar deep historical roots, evidenced by discussion by the Webbs. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – The Aftermath of the 1951 Waterfront Lockout

 

‘We never recovered from that strike’: The Aftermath of the 1951 Waterfront Lockout and Supporting Strikes

 Grace Millar

 

Abstract

The 1951 waterfront lockout and supporting strikes lasted five months and involved 20,000 workers.  As one of New Zealand’s largest industrial disputes it has received considerable historical attention, but the main focus of research has been on the beginning of the dispute. The limited historical work on the end of the dispute and the aftermath has focused on union structures, rather than the people of labour history.   Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – ‘That’s not right’: Indigenous politics, Dexter Daniels and 1968

 

‘That’s not right’: Indigenous politics, Dexter Daniels and 19681

Julie Kimber

 Abstract

The high hopes associated with the landmark Cattle Industry (Northern Territory) Award, 1966, which promised equal pay for indigenous workers soon soured. For many activists the decision was a Pyrrhic victory. This was especially true for Dexter Daniels, the North Australian Workers’ Union organiser who, in the lead up to the case, had visited the cattle stations in the Northern Territory. Continue reading

2011 ASSLH conference – ‘Bastards from the bush’: forgotten IWW activists

 

Bastards from the bush’: forgotten IWW activists

Drew Cottle
Rowan Day

 

Abstract

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have secured a place in Australian folklore as one of the most notable examples of class-conscious rebellion. For a time in the 1910s the State viewed them as public enemy number one, an insidious menace responsible for inciting the class conflict in Australia. Continue reading