Australian strikes late 1960s, 1970s

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Skraeling
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Jun 23 2010 13:02
Australian strikes late 1960s, 1970s

hi,

can anyone point me to some links or books or articles that cover the workplace revolts in australia in the late 1960s and 1970s, especially about the 1969 strikes over the jailing of Clarrie O'Shea, Secretary of the Tramway & Motor Omnibus Employees' Association, for refusing to pay into court fines owed by his union (was the strikes over this really a general strike, or a mass strike?) , the 1976 one-day general strike about medibank changes? i'd like to know if it's true that in 1976 the highest amount of recorded strike activity in australian history occurred, more than in 1919?

also the 1972 smashing up of the ford factory in broadmeadows, melbourne.

not being familiar with australian history, i don't know where to look to find out further info. i have tried a few books, like the people's history of australia series, but they didn't cover the above.

thanks, any other info appreciated.

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Steven.
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Jun 23 2010 17:24

I'm assuming you seen the stuff on libcom?
http://libcom.org/history/articles/green-bans-australia-construction
http://libcom.org/history/1972-broadmeadows-ford-workers-strike
http://libcom.org/history/anatomy-industrial-struggle-chrysler-factory-tonsley-park-adelaide-1976-1978

Those are a few off the top of my head.

Also, if ever you write any stuff about this sort of thing please do post it up to the libcom library...

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Rats
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Jun 23 2010 17:40
Quote:
I'm assuming you seen the stuff on libcom?

Australia finally made it to the internet! Go team!

Skraeling
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Jun 24 2010 01:05
Steven. wrote:
I'm assuming you seen the stuff on libcom?
http://libcom.org/history/articles/green-bans-australia-construction
http://libcom.org/history/1972-broadmeadows-ford-workers-strike
http://libcom.org/history/anatomy-industrial-struggle-chrysler-factory-tonsley-park-adelaide-1976-1978

Those are a few off the top of my head.

Also, if ever you write any stuff about this sort of thing please do post it up to the libcom library...

thanks. yes i have seen that stuff, will read the adelaide one one day. i'm particularly interested in big broad picture stuff, and peaks of struggle, than specific strikes. so the 1969 strikes and 1976 general strike are of particular interest.

actually, there is a big mistake in the melbourne ford workers riot: it was in 1973 not 1972. see http://www.sa.org.au/mag-archive-from-old-website/107-edition-67/887-ford-broadmeadows-strike
i have typed in the original from which that article is taken - its by Iain McIntyre in his book Disturbing the Peace. he also says 1973. no offence, but i think the original is better than the edited version you have on libcom.

these questions are all for a publication i am doing, which could be unofficially leaked on to the net, but i will try to stop that, cos i respect copyright at all times wink

bastarx
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Jun 24 2010 01:49

Tom O'Lincoln's (AFAIK one of the founders of the ISO/SWP in Oz, now in the even worse racket SAlt) book Years of Rage has a lot of the stuff you're after IIRC.

One of his co-hacks has helpfully put it online here: http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/years.htm

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LeftResistance
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Jun 24 2010 04:22

I recently found a book called 'Radical Sydney' that just came out, haven't finished it yet but it seems like it might be something worth checking out...

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circle A-K
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Jun 24 2010 05:59

This book might be useful:

Batons and blockades : policing industrial disputes in Australasia / David Baker
Description Melbourne : Circa, 2005.
x, 236 p. ISBN 0958093873

I also found this article by the author of the above, which you can read online and which covers some of the books content (policing industrial unionism):

http://www.aic.gov.au/events/aic%20upcoming%20events/1999/~/media/conferences/hcpp/baker.ashx

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Lumpen
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Jun 24 2010 11:02

Iain's books are indispensable. Is How To Make Trouble & Influence People indexed? If you email him, I'm sure he'd point you in useful directions. PM me your email and I can pass it on.

I just bought some books on Australia labour history on the weekend, so I'll let you know if there's anything interesting. Check out the New Internationalist Bookshop at Trades Hall in Melbourne. You can call them and ask, I guess. They had the Big Red Book Fair on the weekend, so they should be flush with stuff.

Anarres Books (which I'm part of) is on hiatus, but we'll have our catalogue up in coming months. We have quite a few books in stock on Australasian labour history, a few from an anarchist perspective, for cheap—some of Bob James' books might be relevant.

@ndy who does the blog Slackbastard is also a good source of knowledge on this stuff. Drop him a line in the comments of his blog.

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Steven.
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Jun 24 2010 11:55
Skraeling wrote:
Steven. wrote:
I'm assuming you seen the stuff on libcom?
http://libcom.org/history/articles/green-bans-australia-construction
http://libcom.org/history/1972-broadmeadows-ford-workers-strike
http://libcom.org/history/anatomy-industrial-struggle-chrysler-factory-tonsley-park-adelaide-1976-1978

Those are a few off the top of my head.

Also, if ever you write any stuff about this sort of thing please do post it up to the libcom library...

thanks. yes i have seen that stuff, will read the adelaide one one day. i'm particularly interested in big broad picture stuff, and peaks of struggle, than specific strikes. so the 1969 strikes and 1976 general strike are of particular interest.

actually, there is a big mistake in the melbourne ford workers riot: it was in 1973 not 1972. see http://www.sa.org.au/mag-archive-from-old-website/107-edition-67/887-ford-broadmeadows-strike
i have typed in the original from which that article is taken - its by Iain McIntyre in his book Disturbing the Peace. he also says 1973. no offence, but i think the original is better than the edited version you have on libcom.

these questions are all for a publication i am doing, which could be unofficially leaked on to the net, but i will try to stop that, cos i respect copyright at all times ;)

hey, thanks for the date correction. I have corrected the article on libcom. However, the sources it lists include newspapers dated 1972, which I haven't changed.

Don't worry, no offence is taken, if you have a better version we would again love to have it on here if possible

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@ndy
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Jun 24 2010 12:11

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History
http://asslh.org.au/

for stats on strikes, check the above or the abs:

http://www.abs.gov.au/

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@ndy
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Jun 24 2010 12:18

"i'd like to know if it's true that in 1976 the highest amount of recorded strike activity in australian history occurred, more than in 1919?"

depends how you measure it. by days lost, no. of workers involved, length of strike, etc. 1976 was i think in some ways crest of 1969 wave, but in other ways... no.

Quote:
In the period 1969-83, the number of industrial disputes recorded annually fluctuated considerably but was consistently higher than the number of disputes in the period 1983-94. Since 1984, there has been a steady downward trend in the number of industrial disputes. While this is part of a world-wide trend, the decline in Australia has been much greater than in other parts of the world. In 1994, there were 560 industrial disputes the lowest number since 1940.

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/ABS@.nsf/2f762f95845417aeca25706c00834efa/e4b7675cba080fe0ca2570ec0073e385!OpenDocument

@ndy's picture
@ndy
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Jun 24 2010 12:29

for big picture, following may be useful:

Quote:
The World Strike Wave
Dudley Jackson / Tim Sweet
(The University of Aston Management Centre, Birmingham, UK)
OMEGA: The International Journal of Management Science, Vol. 7, No.1, 1979

The years since 1969 have seen a major increase in strike activity in nearly all the countries which collect and publish data on strikes. This wave of strikes has largely been caused by strikes over pay, probably connected both with higher rates of price inflation and a higher incidence of direct taxation on households. In some cases, the changed level of strike activity has also led to substantial changes in the structure of strikes, as we shall show for the United Kingdom and Australia, two countries which have suffered most from the strike wave.

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Ed
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Jun 24 2010 21:16
Quote:
Don't worry, no offence is taken, if you have a better version we would again love to have it on here if possible

I have a feeling that the Broadmeadows article is one that I put up back when we were trying to keep all articles on libcom/enrager quite short so I reckon Skraeling has the original article (in its pre-Ed hack form). Anyway, it might be worth adding the version Skraeling has to site (or even replacing the one we have with it..)..

Skraeling
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Jun 25 2010 03:09

my mistake, it looks like you got the broadmeadows article straight from here
http://www.takver.com/history/fordriot.htm
and this was later corrected and rewritten when published in Disturbing the Peace. Disturbing the Peace is self-published so its nicer if i ask the author, who has contacted me, first before putting up his second effort here.

and a hearty thanks to all the people who have helped out! thanks heaps.

the o'lincoln book looks useful, thanx Peter. that is the sort of thing i am after.

unfortunately, don't have time to check out the radical sydney (and radical melb and brisbane books). apparently, the rad melb book has a chapter on clarrie o'shea's jailing in 1969. the rad brisbane seemed a bit odd to me eg. claiming the red and black bookshop was new left, and overlooking how it was the Brisbane Self-Management Group's bookshop.

and thanks to Andy for the link to the stats -- most useful, i'll have a burrow around in there soon. i read somewhere saying that 1974 represented the peak in workplace struggle in australia, (o'lincoln writes: 'Strike days topped three million by 1971 and, after a lull in 1972, were to peak at more than six million in 1974. Workers were defending themselves against inflation by notching up six million strike days for the year -- the highest figure since 1919.') while i've seen graphs published elsewhere clearly showing that 1976 was the peak at least in terms of the percentage of the workforce on strike, mainly cos of the general strike of that year. but your point is taken. its very hard to work out what a peak is, and by what measure, not forgetting these stats are collected by the govt, so no doubt are biased.

finally, in terms of global working class history overviews of the strike wave, the world strike wave thing looks useful. of course, there is also beverly silver's book forces of labor (spelt the American way), and for wstn european comparisons, a two-volume book called the resurgence of class conflict in western europe since 1968 eds,crouch and pizzorno.

via email, people helpfully sent me links to this online stuff which i think some people would be interested in:

two PDF books of accounts of 'rank and file' organising including NSW BLF http://roughreds.com/

a pamphlet about the jailing of clarrie o'shea
http://www.reasoninrevolt.net.au/bib/PR0001114.htm

http://www.reasoninrevolt.net.au/pdf/d0119.pdf (warning: large file) the battler all issues from 1976, a trot paper of the international socialists, about the 1976 general strike, p. 50 of the pdf, says it involved 2 and half million workers across the country, first nationwide general strike in australian history

(that reason in revolt site has lots of original docs)

also learnt there was a 'general strike' in Queensland in 1980 involving 300,000 workers seeking a shorter working week. i hadnt heard of this before.

Skraeling
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Jun 28 2010 02:30

with the author's permission, i've put the revised version of the ford workers riot in 1973 up here as a comment: http://libcom.org/history/articles/broadmeadows-ford-workers-strike-1972
cos i thought the two versions oughta go together, rather than have separate entries, which could be confusing.

also, O'Lincoln says the Queensland general strike was in 1982, not 1980.