CENTENARY OF LABOR COUNCIL OF
NEW SOUTH WALES
The Labor Council of New South Wales is celebrating its centenary.
The most notable evidence of the celebration is the new building opened
in February. A sixteen-page booklet written by Bede Nairn is another.
Illustrated with facsimiles of early minutes, a 1917 strike bulletin,
photographs of the old trades hall and of J. C. Watson, Angus Cameron
and J. T. Lang, it is a well-produced memento of an important occasion
in the history of the labour movement. In the brief text, Bede Nairn
provides a simple outline history of the Council as well as some inter
pretation of significant events.
The Council was formed in May 1871 and in Nairn's account
achieved significant authority over its constituent unions during the
1874 Iron Trades strikes. He attributes great significance to the social
role of the Council. In the Seamen's strike of 1878-79 the issues were
both industrial and in the broadest sense political. The support of
Angus Cameron's election to Parliament in 1874 gave notice of the
Council's preparedness to involve itself with issues which went beyond
the purely industrial. In 1891 the Council founded the parliamentary
Labor Party thus giving to parliamentary politics the shape it retains
to this day. The account sketches the changing fortunes of the Council
in its relations with the Labor Party in 1914 and in the war and early
post-war years. The depressed twenties, followed by the great depression,
saw the emergence of the Communist Party and J. T. Lang, both events
of great importance. Since the Second World War in Nairn's words,
'the Council's main task was the need to modernise industrial relations'.
The booklet ends with a note by F. W. Bowen, M.L.C., the present
President of the Council.