Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “australia”

August 26, 1894

StateLibQld_1_67991_Shearing_at_the_woolshed_at_Jimbour_Station,_ca._1895Striking sheep shearers in New South Wales, Australia, burn and scuttle the paddle steamer Rodney, which had been transporting scab labor. Later that day, Billy McClean, a union shearer, was shot and wounded in an altercation with scabs. He and five others were charged with rioting and sentenced to three years’ hard labor. McClean was released after eighteen months because he was dying from the bullet wound and died on March 22, 1896.

August 2, 1917

BBtoywuCQAEBW7PRailway and tramway employees in Sydney, Australia, go on strike to protest the introduction of a card system to record what each employee was doing and how fast the job was completed. Workers were not allowed to view or modify the cards. The strike spread from the railways to other industries until about 100,000 workers were on strike.

December 16, 1929

December 16New South Wales mounted police open fire on a crowd of 4,000 coal miners – locked out since March – protesting the introduction of scabs at the Rothbury, Australia, mine. One miner was killed and others seriously injured. Earlier in September, the government introduced an “Unlawful Assembly Act,” which declared pickets and protests illegal and authorized the police to break them up.

November 2, 1928

492140251-420x0Police protecting scabs clash with 2,000 striking waterfront wharf workers at Prince’s Pier in Melbourne, Australia. As the workers were retreating from the onslaught by the baton-wielding police, the commander ordered the police to open fire. Three workers were shot in the back, one fatally wounded. Several unions demanded an inquiry, but the government refused to investigate the shootings.

June 27, 1949


23,000 coal miners in Australia strike over wages and working conditions. The Australian Labor Party government confiscated union funds, raided union offices, imprisoned leaders, and imposed fines. On August 1, troops armed with machine guns, bayonets, and rifles entered the coalfields. Within two weeks, the strike was broken.

May 19, 1919


Thousands of miners are on strike in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia. Cooperative depots were established to supply struggling miners’ families with food during the eighteen month-long strike, which ended in November 1920 with improved safety conditions, better health monitoring, and a 35-hours work week.

May 12, 1856


700 workers gather and celebrate when the government in Victoria, Australia agree to an eight-hour day for workers employed on public works. By 1858 the eight-hour day was firmly established in the building industry, but it wasn’t until 1916 that the Victoria Eight Hours Act was passed, which applied to all workers in the state.

May 4, 1919


While attempting to prevent scabs from unloading a ship in Fremantle, Western Australia, striking Waterside Workers’ Federation members are met with police violence. Seven workers were hurt and one, Tom Edwards, later died from his injuries.

March 17, 1948


Striking railway workers in Queensland, Australia, march on St. Patrick’s Day from the Trades Hall in Brisbane and are brutally attacked by hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police. Two days later, 20,000 workers from other unions rallied in solidarity in King George Square. The strike ended on April 1 with backdated wage increases.

February 2, 1929


3,000 timber workers are locked out of nearly 70 timber mills in New South Wales, Australia, when they refuse to accept a judge’s order for a longer work week and reduced wages. The workers remained out for eight and a half months, with the support of other unions and the community.

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