Labour History

‘Intelligently Directed Welfare Work’?: Labour Management Strategies in Local Context: Port Pirie, 1915-29

Labour History (1999), 76, (1), 125–148.

Abstract

This article is a detailed analysis of the character and implications of a wide-ranging management agenda introduced by the Broken Hill Associated Smelters (BHAS) at its Port Pirie smelters from 1915 to 1929. This core group within the emerging Collins House empire distilled aspects of an international movement towards management ‘welfarism’, and applied it at Port Pirie with spectacular success. The agenda was targeted at both the workplace and the broader community. New committee-style structures gave workers a sense of involvement while also helping to enshrine an ideology of management/worker co-operation. This workplace agenda was complemented by efforts to ‘reform’ the town itself, by introducing new forms of ‘respectable’ recreation, adding to the services and facilities available to workers and their families, and generally making the company more central to the lives of its employees. Throughout the 1920s, the company met with considerable success on the industrial front. However, there is evidence of a cultural resistance to some of its broadly-targeted strategies. Resistance was especially apparent from workforce groups who were beyond the effective reach of BHAS management.

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Details

Author details

Eklund, Erik

Table of Contents

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