Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Centenary of Labor Council of New South Wales

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (1971), 21, (1), 72


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. R.G. 72

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, R.G.