Category Archives: Industrial labour

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


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



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

2001 ASSLH conference: Misunderstanding Australian labour: Samuel Gompers, Billy Hughes, and the debate over compulsory arbitration

David Palmer
Senior Lecturer, American Studies, Department Social Sciences Flinders University


The compulsory arbitration and award system served as the foundation of Australian industrial relations and trade unionism throughout most of the twentieth century. In the United States, however, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) opposed compulsory arbitration. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference: The introduction of the chain system: An ‘Heroic Defeat’ for the AMIEU (Vic)

Marjorie A Jerrard
Monash University


Much has been written from the labour process perspective about the chain system of slaughtering and its deskilling of the slaughtermen’s trade. This paper explores the technological change and work reorganisation necessitated by the chain system, from the trade union strategy perspective, using the rational choice framework of the “heroic defeat” developed by Golden. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – The life and times of the Barrier Industrial Council: A study in local peak union origins, purpose, power and decline

Bradon Ellem & John Shields
Work & Organisational Studies, School of Business, University of Sydney


The Barrier Industrial Council (BIC) is one of the best known examples of a powerful union peak body in Australia. Upon its establishment in the early 1920s, it oversaw a particular form of working class mobilisation and, for many years, exercised something like a hegemony both for and over its affiliates. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – Theorising peak union formation, purpose and power: A discussion paper

Bradon Ellem & John Shields
Work & Organisational Studies, School of Business, University of Sydney


Peak unions occupy a constantly moving point of intersection between two competing sets of forces: those of organisational unity and class solidarity and the forces of fragmentation and sectionalism. We suggest that for any group of unions to form a peak body a state of internal equilibrium of power balance must exist between the unions concerned. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – Spatial practices and struggle over ground at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops

Dr Lucy Taksa
School of Industrial Relations & Organisational Behaviour, University of NSW


The Eveleigh railway workshops in Sydney were not just a geographic location in which specific industrial activities occurred, but also a political space in which power was exercised by the state, bureaucratic authority, and also through industrial and political mobilisation. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – Challenging equality masculinism: Edna Ryan’s struggles for equal pay 1958-1973

Professor Lyndall Ryan
Head: School of Humanities, Faculty of the Central Coast, University of Newcastle


When labour activist Edna Ryan was widowed at the age of 53 in 1958, she became the family breadwinner. She quickly found that while pay and conditions for all workers were negotiated on a triennial basis between unions and management, whereby men had access to a career path and regular pay increases, no such provisions existed for women. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – Union birth, growth and death: The Lithgow ironworks 1900-14

Greg Patmore
University of Sydney


Australian trade union membership grew dramatically in the period from 1900 to 1914. While there is recognition that compulsory arbitration may have played an important role, there are a range of explanatory factors that may explain the growth. Studies of union growth also neglect the workplace. Through an analysis of the Lithgow Ironworks this paper hopes to broaden the debate about union growth. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – The formation and role of an independent trades and labor council in Western Australia: A case study

Bobbie Oliver
Teaching and Research Fellow, Research Institute for Cultural Heritage, Curtin University


This paper argues that adopting the Australian Labor Federation model, with the political and industrial wings in one organisation, made the labour movement in Western Australia significantly different from its counterparts in the eastern states of Australia. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – Becoming ‘unionate’? From staff association to national union: The ‘industrialisation’ of university staff 1983–1993

John O’Brien
School of Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour, University of New South Wales


This paper traces the history of the major unions covering Australian academic staff from the registration of the Federation of Australian University Staff and the Union of Australian College Academics in the federal industrial jurisdiction in the mid-1980s to the formation of the National Tertiary Education Union as an “industry” union incorporating general staff in 1983. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – No quick response: Who is responsible for clothing outwork reform?

Alastair Greig
School of Social Sciences, Australian National University


The Australian clothing industry is often regarded as a relic of a previous industrial age ill-suited to the demands of a more “knowledge-intensive” nation. However, the modern Australian clothing industry combines elements of the so-called “new economy” with elements of highly exploitative work practices associated with outwork. Continue reading

2001 ASSLH conference – The ‘freeing’ of unfree labour: Aborigines in the Northern Territory cattle industry, 1948–1978

Rob Castle and Jim Hagan
University of Wollongong

The freeing of unfree labour has received less attention in the unfree labour debate than other issues such as the conditions under which unfree labour worked. This paper focuses on the phasing out of unfree labour in the Northern Territory cattle industry and comparing this process with the Assamese tea industry. Continue reading