1890 Australian maritime dispute

The 1890 Australian maritime dispute was an industrial dispute that began on 15 August 1890 when the Mercantile Marine Officers' Association directed its members to give 24 hours' notice to their employers after negotiations broke down with the Steamship Owners' Association of Victoria over longstanding pay and conditions claims. Industrial action quickly spread to seamen, wharf labourers, then gas stockers. Coal miners from Newcastle, Broken Hill, and even New Zealand were locked out after refusing to dig coal for non-union operated vessels. By September 1890, 28,500 workers were on strike.

The Melbourne branch of the Marine Officers' Association had joined the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, and the New Zealand branch was affiliated with the Maritime Labour Council. In July 1890 the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand had conceded a pay rise of one pound, following arbitration. Many of the owners had privately conceded that an increase in pay was justified and overdue. The Sydney branch of the union, not affiliated with the Sydney Maritime Council, negotiated with the owners and were told their case was reasonable, but could not be considered while the Melbourne branch was affiliated with Melbourne Trades Hall. In a last minute mediation, officials of the union agreed to withdraw from the Melbourne Trades Hall, if employers agreed to compromise in a last minute meeting with a union delegation. The Shipowners refused to meet the delegation, which thus precipitated the strike.

Ostensibly over pay and conditions, the causes of the dispute were considered more complex, and point to an employer conspiracy to render trade union activity ineffective, and employer activity to counter union solidarity in secondary boycott of non-union shorn wool in the pastoral industry. While some historians argue that the strike was caused by a downturn in economic conditions, others argue the depression of the 1890s did not start till 1892.

In early July 1890, the Amalgamated Shearers' Union had issued a manifesto calling a boycott on non-union wool shorn in the coming shearing season. This emulated a successful boycott of non-union wool called by the Queensland Shearers Union in 1889 and instituted by the Wharf Labourer's Union and Brisbane Trades Hall. The campaign to break union solidarity was engineered by stevedore Alfred Lamb, a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, owner of one of the four main wool exporting firms, and vice president of the NSW Employers' Union. He attended meetings of the Pastoralists Union of NSW, the Pastoralists Union of Victoria, organised a memorandum of understanding and agreements among wool shippers, shipping agents and shipowners.

Social turmoil

While police had been used in strikes before 1890, the military had not usually been called in other than at the Lambton Colliery strike in the Hunter Valley two years earlier. During the strike military units were extensively used in New South Wales and Victoria. Armed troops were deployed to support the police in Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle and a number of other ports around Australia, as violence escalated against non-union labour and against the property of companies operating shipping, the mines, the wharves and ports.

In Melbourne, the announcement that a public meeting was going to be held on 31 August 1890 to support the maritime strikers sent the Victorian government into precautionary mode. On the eve of the meeting, the Victorian Mounted Rifles were briefed by their commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Price:

Men of the Mounted Rifles, one of your obligations imposes on you the duty of resisting invasion by a foreign enemy, but you are also liable to be called upon to assist in preserving law and order in the colony. ... To do your work faintly would be a grave mistake. If it has to be done effectively you will each be supplied with 40 rounds of ammunition, leaden bullets, and if the order is given to fire, don't let me see any rifle pointed in the air; fire low and lay them out so that the duty will not have to be performed again.[1]

Price was quite clear and quite unapologetic about his intentions. He only wanted ′'to hit the strikers in the legs ... not to kill them outright′'. He explained that the term 'lay them out' was used in his regiment to mean 'temporary disablement'.

A force of 1,000 militia and mounted police and another 1,000 special constables were embodied by the time of the meeting. These forces, apart from a troop of mounted police were held in reserve out of the way and the 40,000 who attended the meeting, although enthusiastic, were orderly and the forces were not called in.

Union defeat

The strike was defeated when the Marine Officers returned to work on the employers terms in November 1890, with Illawarra coal miners being the last workers to return to work in January 1891. A shortage of money to sustain the strike and a plentiful supply of strikebreakers eventually defeated the strikers. Wage cuts were introduced for everyone in the maritime industry, with wage cuts of up to 30 per cent. The defeat of the 1980 maritime strike and the 1891 Australian shearers' strike, laid the framework for the Australian labour movement entry into parliamentary politics. The New South Wales Labour Defence Committee summed up the unions mood in this statement:

the time has come when trade unionists must use the parliamentary machine that in the past has used them.[2]


  1. ^ Domestic Deployment of the Armed Forces: Military Powers, Law and Human Rights (2016) by Michael Head, Scott Mann. ISBN 9781317148500.
  2. ^ Waterfront: Graft, corruption and violence - Australia's crime frontier from 1788 till now by Duncan McNab, 2015.
1892 Broken Hill miners' strike

The 1892 Broken Hill miners' strike was a sixteen-week strike which was one of four major strikes that took place between 1889 and 1920 in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia.During the four months from July to November 1892, both local miners and Women's Brigade were active in defending the mines from imported labour using organised direct action methods.The strike collapsed after several strike leaders were arrested and tried for 'unlawful conspiracy and inciting riots', found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment and it became unpracticable for locals to defend the mines from imported labour.

1894 Australian shearers' strike

After the 1890 Australian maritime dispute and the 1891 Australian shearers' strike both of which were long, drawn out affairs in which trade unions were defeated, running out of funds, actions by increasingly militant and desperate unions led up to perhaps the most violent shearers' strike, in 1894.Particularly due to falling wool prices in London, pastoralists were motivated to cut pay rates and hire non-union labour, which was plentiful due to mass unemployment during the 1890s depression. In May 1894, the Amalgamated Workers Union rose to the defence of the shearers' wages .

By October 1894 the Queensland Amalgamated Workers Union conceded defeat and called off the strike in the colony of Queensland. However, the strike continued in New South Wales, where possibly 16,000 workers gathered in strike camps. Police were mobilised against them.

The most famous incident during the strike was the burning and sinking of the steamer Rodney, which was transporting non-union labour up the Darling River. When the boat was moored in a swamp 23 miles (37 km) above Pooncarie, a few miles above the Moorara shearing shed, unionists boarded, took control, offloaded all passengers, then soaked the hold in kerosene and set it alight. The burning boat drifted away and sank after several hours.In September 1894, on Dagworth Station, north-west of Winton), striking shearers fired their rifles and pistols in the air, setting fire to the woolshed. The owner of the homestead and three policemen gave chase to a man named Samuel Hoffmeister – also known as "French(y)". Rather than be captured, Hoffmeister shot and killed himself at the Combo Waterhole. It has been widely accepted that the lyrics of Waltzing Matilda are based the incident.

Anarchism in Australia

Anarchism arrived in Australia within a few years of anarchism developing as a distinct tendency in the wake of the 1871 Paris Commune. Although a minor school of thought and politics, composed primarily of campaigners and intellectuals, Australian anarchism has formed a significant current throughout the history and literature of the colonies and nation. Anarchism's influence has been industrial and cultural, though its influence has waned from its high point in the early 20th century where anarchist techniques and ideas deeply influenced the official Australian union movement. In the mid 20th century anarchism's influence was primarily restricted to urban bohemian cultural movements. In the late 20th century and early 21st century Australian anarchism has been an element in Australia's social justice and protest movements.

Andrew Garran

Andrew Garran (19 November 1825 – 6 June 1901), English-Australian journalist and politician, was the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald from 1873 to 1885.

Garran was born in London in 1825. He was educated at Hackney Grammar School in the Hackney borough of London, and at Spring Hill College, Birmingham. He also attended a theological college in Norfolk, where he trained to be a Congregationalist minister. He later studied at the University of London, graduating with a Master of Arts degree in 1848. Due to poor health, he spent eighteen months as a private tutor in the Madeira Islands seeking a better climate, returning to London the following year. In 1850 he moved to Australia, where he settled in Adelaide, South Australia.On arrival in Adelaide he worked briefly as a minister, and from 1851 to 1852 he wrote for the short-lived weekly newspaper Austral Examiner, before it closed due to the Victorian Gold Rush, which saw many people migrate to the Victorian goldfields. Garran himself travelled to Victoria, where he was a tutor in the town of Ballan. He returned to South Australia in 1854, where he became the editor of the South Australian Register. On 1 December that same year, he married Mary Isham Sabine (18 October 1829 – 30 July 1923), with whom he would have one son and seven daughters.Andrew and Mary Garran left South Australia in 1856 for Sydney, New South Wales, after John Fairfax offered Andrew the position of assistant editor at the Sydney Morning Herald. The family lived in a terrace on Phillip Street, near Martin Place, where they kept a dairy cow, which would graze during the day in The Domain. While working for the Herald, Garran studied at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1868 and a Doctorate of Laws in 1870. When the editor of the Herald, John West, died in December 1873, Garran was promptly promoted. Garran was one of the earliest supporters of the federation of Australia, and used his position in the media to advocate the cause, writing many editorials in favour of federation. He served as editor until 1885, when poor health forced him to resign, after spending nearly thirty years at the newspaper.However, Garran did not retire completely, and on 15 February 1887 was given a life appointment to the New South Wales Legislative Council. In 1890, the Premier of New South Wales, Henry Parkes, appointed Garran as president of the Royal Commission into the 1890 Australian maritime dispute. In 1892 he resigned from the Legislative Council in order to take up the position of president of the New South Wales Council of Arbitration, although he resigned from that position in 1894 and re-entered the Legislative Council. From March 1895 to November 1898, Garran was the leader of the Reid government in the Legislative Council, and vice-president of the Executive Council of New South Wales.Throughout his career Garran held a number of other positions. He was a director of the Newcastle Wallsend Coal Company from 1869, and the chairman from 1874 to 1879. He was a member of the New South Wales Board of Technical Education, and was a trustee of Sydney Grammar School. He was the correspondent for London's The Times for many years, continuing up until his death.Garran died in 1901, in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst. He was survived by his wife and six of his eight children. His son Robert Garran also studied law, and went on to become a leading expert in Australian constitutional law, together with John Quick writing The Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth.

Australian Maritime Officers Union

The Australian Maritime Officers Union (AMOU) is an Australian trade union that is registered with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (and additionally registered in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia) and affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Its membership covers mariners as well as professional, administrative, supervisory and technical employees in the maritime industry and dependent services. The AMOU uses the services model of trade unionism.

The AMOU National Office is located in Sydney, NSW. The National executive are:

President: Wayne Moore

National Vice President: Murray Doyle

National Delegates: Robert Brownrigg and Jonathan Drummond

Offshore Divisional Delegates: Robert Ashmore and Bill Korevaar

Port Services Divisional Delegates: Richard Lorraine and Sean Stephens and

Area Secretaries: Richard Barnes, Steve Groves and Daniel Pearson.The AMOU is composed of two Divisions: "Offshore" and "Port Services". Steve Groves is the Offshore Director and Michael Fleming the Port Services Director.

The Eastern Area Vice President: Michael Farrar, Secretary: Richard Barnes.

The Southern Area President: Neil Hunter, Vice President: Louis Papaloukas, Secretary: Steve Groves.

The Western Area President: Victor Hoisington, Area Secretary: Daniel Pearson.

The Australian Maritime Officers Union publishes a journal called the Maritime Officer.

History of Australia (1851–1900)

The History of Australia (1851–1900) refers to the history of the indigenous and colonial peoples of the Australian continent during the 50-year period which preceded the foundation of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.

Ivor MacGillivray

Ivor MacGillivray (24 May 1840 – 16 January 1939) was an Australian politician who represented the South Australian House of Assembly multi-member seat of Port Adelaide from 1893 to 1918. He was a member of the United Labor Party until the 1917 Labor split, when he joined the splinter National Party.MacGillivray was born at Lossiemouth in Scotland. He worked on a farm as a boy, and later worked as a seaman between China and Australia, in the Black Sea and Mediterranean. At 19, he left the ship in Melbourne, spent two years at the Bendigo gold rushes, before leaving for the gold rushes in Otago, New Zealand, where he spent a further twelve years. He returned to Melbourne, briefly went to England, and worked as a prospector in Western Australia and South Australia before settling in Adelaide. He worked as a coal lumper at Port Adelaide for 20 years, and was chairman of the Working Men's Association for 16 years. He was one of the local leaders of the 1890 Australian maritime dispute.MacGillivray was elected to the House of Assembly at the 1893 state election. He was expelled from the Labor Party in the 1917 Labor split over his support for conscription in World War I; his only son had been killed in the Gallipoli Campaign. MacGillivray recontested Port Adelaide for the splinter National Party, but was defeated by John Stanley Verran.He retired following the loss of his parliamentary seat in 1918. MacGillivray died at the Adelaide Hospital in 1939, aged 98, following a fall in his home. He was buried at Cheltenham Cemetery.

John Arthur Andrews

John Arthur "Jack" or "J.A." Andrews (27 October 1865 – 26 July 1903), was an Australian anarchist theoretician, agitator and journalist. He was also a poet and inventor and author of fiction. He was born in Bendigo, Victoria to John Andrews, a clerk, and his wife Eliza Mary Ann, whose maiden name was Barnett. He matriculated from Scotch College, Melbourne in 1881. It is difficult to overstate his importance to early Australian anarchism.

Dismissed in 1886 from his clerical employment with the Victorian public service for "insubordination", he had already had occasional pieces published, including in the Melbourne Herald where he won the poetry prize in 1885 for a poem about the Eight Hour Day. After dismissal he earned his living from his writing and from occasional white-collar employment, being published in mainstream journals such as Melbourne Punch and The Bulletin and elsewhere. But he would also live in the extreme of poverty.

It is unclear when he joined the Melbourne Anarchist Club but was appearing at its meetings by early 1887, and rapidly became a significant member. In the Melbourne Anarchist Club he represented the communist anarchism pole, strongly influenced by Kropotkin, and edited the club's journal Honesty. He took an active part in the struggles of the day, notably the 1890 Australian maritime dispute and was involved with the Sydney direct action group, the Active Service Brigade. He was imprisoned for three months in NSW in 1894 for the publication of A Handbook of Anarchy (the actual charge being a technicality), and further imprisoned for five months (plus two months on remand) for sedition in 1895. Skilled in languages he corresponded continually with the European anarchist movement. His friend the poet and socialist Bernard O'Dowd claimed that he was fluent in all the European languages except Russian, and also fluent in Latin and Chinese. (O'Dowd may have been slightly exaggerating but apart from his European correspondence Andrews is known to have studied Chinese and he would have learned Latin at Scotch College.)

A polymath, personally eccentric, ascetic in habits, a defender of the despised Chinese, he was nevertheless respected in the labour movement. Bernard O'Dowd supported his appointment as editor of the labour journal Tocsin in 1902, a position he held for a few months before his health collapsed and he was hospitalized and shortly died of tuberculosis. He was then 37.

Labor Council of New South Wales

The Labor Council of New South Wales, branded Unions NSW, is the peak body for trade unions in the state of New South Wales, Australia. As of 2005 there are 67 unions and 8 Rural and Regional Trades & Labor Councils affiliated to the Labor Council, representing 800,000 workers in NSW. It is registered as the State Peak Council of Employees under Section 215 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 (NSW). The Council is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Labour council

A labour council, trades council or industrial council is an association of labour unions or union branches in a given area. Most commonly, they represent unions in a given geographical area, whether at the district, city, region, or provincial or state level. They may also be based on a particular industry rather than geographical area, as for example, in the Maritime Council of Australia which co-ordinated the waterfront and maritime unions involved in the 1890 Australian Maritime Dispute.

Affiliates of labour councils are trade union branches or locals, and occasionally other labour movement organisations. Citywide or provincial councils may have district or regional labour council affiliates as well as trade unions. Some labour councils restrict their membership to organisations which are affiliated with a particular national trade union federation, such as many state-level labour councils in the United States, which are chartered from the AFL-CIO national confederation.

Finances are usually obtained through an affiliation fee, often based on a per capita tax on the membership of affiliates. In Australia, Trades and Labour Councils often have their own hall and offices known as a Trades Hall, with the term Trades Hall often used as a colloquial expression for the Labour Council or Trades Hall Council.

Queensland Council of Unions

The Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) is a representative, peak body of Queensland trade union organisations, also known as a labour council, in the Queensland, Australia. As of 2014, 35 unions and 13 regional branches were affiliated with the QCU. The QCU represents unions covering more than 370,000 Queensland workers. It is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). Its offices are located in the suburb of South Brisbane, Queensland. As a peak body for the Queensland trade unions, the objective of the QCU is to achieve industrial, social and political justice for Queensland workers. The management structure of the QCU is made up of a committee of management and an executive of 35 representatives, one from each of the affiliated unions.

The history of the QCU is intertwined with the history of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Australian labour movement generally. The QCU was formed in 1885, but in 1889 it disbanded and all its roles and responsibilities were transferred to a newly formed peak body, the Australian Labor Federation (ALF) (which despite its name was restricted to Queensland). In 1902 the QCU reformed, but again, in 1911, all its delegates moved to the ALF. In 1914 the ALF itself dissolved, with its affiliates moving to the growing Australian Workers Union (AWU). At this time the roles of the QCU were shared by a number of labour organisations, including the Brisbane Industrial Council, the Eight Hour Union and the Brisbane Trades Hall Board. At the end of World War One in 1918 Queensland unions regrouped but it was another four years before 46 unions reformed the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, now known as the QCU.

Thompson Green

Thompson Green (26 January 1861 – 1 July 1945) was an Australian politician who represented the South Australian House of Assembly multi-member seats of Port Adelaide from 1910 to 1915 and West Torrens from 1915 to 1918. He was a member of the United Labor Party until 1917, when he left to join the National Party in the 1917 Labor split.Green was born in Glasgow. He went to work at the age of ten, and apprenticed as a boilermaker. He migrated to Sydney in 1886, and subsequently spent time in Melbourne and in Tasmania. Green was involved in the 1890 Australian maritime dispute, after which a number of employers refused to employ him due to his prominent role. He left Melbourne for Adelaide in 1891 and faced continuing problems with being barred from employment due to his union activities, but was hired as a boilermaker at Islington Railway Workshops from 1895 until his election to parliament in 1910. He was heavily involved in union activities, serving as secretary of the state Boilermakers' Society for twenty years, president of the Trades and Labour Council, the inaugural president of the Federated Boilermakers' Society of Australia, and president of the Federated Amalgamated Railway and Tramway Association. He was also president of the Eight Hours Committee, the Adelaide Trades Hall management committee and the Iron Trades Council. In local politics, Green was elected mayor of the Corporate Town of Thebarton.He was elected to the House of Assembly at the 1910 election for the seat of Port Adelaide, and switched to the new seat of West Torrens following an electoral redistribution in 1915. Green left the Labor Party for the new National Party in the 1917 Labor split over conscription. The Thebarton branch of the Labor Party had already declined to re-endorse him for Thebarton mayor in October 1916 as a result of his support for conscription. Green was defeated by a Labor candidate when he ran for re-election at the 1918 state election.Following his parliamentary defeat, Green was appointed Inspector of Bridges by the Butler government.Green died at the home of his daughter at Erindale in 1945 at the age of 84.

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