Category Archives: Work & working conditions

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

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

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

Beyond Medicare—Towards Wellness

Humphrey McQueen
Seeing Red, 2003 (slightly updated)

The current campaigns to defend and extend Medicare offer the opportunity to diagnose the commodification of life, both by merchandisers and by corporatised medicine. Whether health care is treated as a human right or as a commodity will always be the outcome of social action. Human rights are brought into existence through imagination and struggle. Continue reading

Art, Transfield and Refugees

Art, Transfield and Refugees
A Russian doll of inhumanities

 Humphrey McQueen  – 18 March 2014

 Sometimes you may need to bribe, to be tough, even to be inhuman, to reach your target. Every contract is a battle. What counts in the final victory. 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