Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

The New South Wales Railway Commissioners’ Strategic Pre-Planning for the Mass Strike of 1917

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2010), 98, (1), 143–161.

Abstract

There is evidence to suggest that senior management in the New South Wales railway service pre-planned for the waged staff’s withdrawal of labour in early August 1917, which preceded the mass strike. The aims of this strategic preplanning were to break the power and resolve of the railway unions. The article examines two strategies adopted by the senior management; the stockpiling of coal prior to the dispute as a means of weakening the capacity of a coal miners’ strike to disrupt the railway service; and the creation of a pool of conservative salaried railway staff within the Locomotive Branch, devoted to intensifying the productivity of waged labour and to eliminating rank and file militancy.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Endnotes

1.V. Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism: The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia,Cambridge University Press,, 1995. Google Scholar

2.R. Gollan, The Coal Miners of New South Wales: A History of the Union, 1860-1960,Melbourne University Press,, 1963, p.152. Google Scholar

3.Ibid., p.156. Google Scholar

4.L. Taksa, ‘“Defence not defiance”: social protest and the NSW General Strike of 1917’, Labour History, no.60, 1991, pp.16-33. Google Scholar

5.I. Turner, Sydney’s Burning,,Heinemann, 1967, p.141. Google Scholar

6.Gollan, The Coal Miners of New South Wales, p.152. Google Scholar

7.J. Hagan, Printers and Politics: A History of the Australian Printing Unions, 1850-1950,Australian National University Press,, 1966, p.194. Google Scholar

8.I. Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics: The Dynamics of the Labour Movement in Eastern Australia, 1900-1921,Hale and Iremonger,, 1979, pp.145-147;R. Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’: The Mass Strike of 1917 in Eastern Australia, PhD thesis,School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Education and Human Development, Victoria University, 2007, p.27. Google Scholar

9.Gollan, The Coal Miners of New South Wales, p.156. Google Scholar

10.Ibid., pp.127-128, 146-148. Google Scholar

11.Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism, p.175. Google Scholar

12.Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, pp.27-28. Google Scholar

13.D. Coward, ‘Crime and Punishment’, inJ. Iremonger,J. Merritt, andG. Osborne(eds), Strikes: Studies in Twentieth Century Australian Social History,Angus and Robertson,, 1973, pp.57-60. Google Scholar

14.M. Hearn, ‘Productivity and patriotism: the management narrative of New South Wales Rail Chief Commissioner James Fraser, 1917-1929’, Business History, vol.50, no.1, 2008, p.34 Google Scholar

15.Hearn, Productivity and Patriotism, p.34. Google Scholar

16. Bathurst Times, 3August1917, p.1. Google Scholar

17.Coward, Crime and Punishment, p.57. Google Scholar

18.Ibid., p.57. Google Scholar

19.Ibid., p.77. Google Scholar

20.Industrial Commissioner of the State, The New South Wales Strike Crisis, 1917, Report Prepared for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly,William Applegate Gullick,, 1918, p.56. Google Scholar

21.Turner, Industrial Labour and Politics, p.154. Google Scholar

22.V.G. Childe, How Labour Governs: A Study of Workers’ Representation in Australia, 2ndedn,Melbourne University Press,, 1964, p.164. Google Scholar

23.W. Jurkiewicz, Conspiracy Aspects of the 1917 Strike, Hons thesis, Faculty of Arts,University of Wollongong, 1977, pp.56-64;Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.28. Google Scholar

24.K.D. Buckley, The Amalgamated Engineers in Australia, 1852-1920,Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University,, 1970, p.262. Google Scholar

25.Ibid., p.263. Google Scholar

26.Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.28. Google Scholar

27.G. Patmore, ‘Systematic management and bureaucracy: the NSW Railways prior to 1932’, Labour and Industry, vol.1, no.2, June, 1988, p.312. Google Scholar

28.G.E. Patmore, A History of Industrial Relations in the NSW Government Railways: 1855-1929, PhD thesis,Department of Industrial Relations, Faculty of Commerce, University of Sydney, 1984, p.306;Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.29. Google Scholar

29.Hearn, Productivity and Patriotism, p.30. Google Scholar

30.Burgmann, Revolutionary Industrial Unionism, p.174. Google Scholar

31.Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.28. Google Scholar

33.Ibid., Item 62, p.226. Google Scholar

34.Ibid., Item 320, p.356. Google Scholar

35. Bathurst Times, 22August1917, p.2. Google Scholar

36. Bathurst Times, 5September1917, p.3. Google Scholar

37.John Deland(fireman Parkes 1953-62, engine driver Thirroul, Port Kembla and Nowra 1962-91), interview, 6January2009. Google Scholar

39.Ray Love(NSW railway historian and former engine driver, Hornsby depot), letter to the author, 27March2009. Google Scholar

40. Ibid;Ray Love, interview, 3April2009. Google Scholar

41.Ray Love, interview, 6February2009. Google Scholar

42.John Deland, interview, 6January2009. Google Scholar

43.Ray Love, interview, 6February2009. Google Scholar

44.Lawrance Ryan(NSW railway historian), interview, 30January2009. Google Scholar

45.Ray Love, interview, 6February2009. Google Scholar

46.Quoted inBathurst Times, 8September1917, p.2. Google Scholar

50. Bathurst Times, 8August1917, p.2. Google Scholar

51.SeeNSW Government Railways and Tramways, Report of the Chief Commissioner for the Year Ended 30 June 1926, Appendix V: Statement Showing the Number of Passengers, Tonnage of Goods etc, p. 30, NRS15070, New South Wales Records,. Google Scholar

53.Quoted inBathurst Times, 28February1911, p.1. Only ten of the 4,700 members of the Association joined the General Strike. SeeM. Hearn, ‘“A good man for the department”: the ethos of the Railway and Tramway Association of New South Wales, 1913-1939’, Australian Historical Studies, vol.30, no.112, April, 1999, p.66. Google Scholar

54.Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.30. Google Scholar

55.Hearn, Productivity and Patriotism, p.30. Google Scholar

56.Taksa, ‘Defence Not Defiance’, p.16. Google Scholar

57.Bollard, ‘The Active Chorus’, p.30. Google Scholar

58. Bathurst Times, 9May1917, p.1. Google Scholar

59.NSW Arbitration Court, Industrial Gazette 1917, Government Railways Group No.7 (Engineers) Board, pp.1002-1003. Google Scholar

60.These men were not tradesmen, yet once they became senior engine drivers they could achieve an occupational status higher than any other tradesmen under the railway wages system. Their job hierarchy and career paths have been described as follows: ‘To become a driver of a … train meant commencing work as a call boy delivering the call notices to the crews; being promoted to an engine cleaner; to an acting fireman; and eventually being appointed as a fireman … With experience and seniority the call boy could slowly progress up the ladder to become an engine driver … for the Melbourne and Brisbane Expresses [which] took 20 years or more. These were very respected men’.R.K. Butcher, The Great Eveleigh Railway Workshops: A Personal Reminiscence,, 2004, p.209. Google Scholar

61. Bathurst Times, 10August1917, p.2. Google Scholar

62.Ibid. Google Scholar

63. Bathurst Times, 13August1917, p.2. Google Scholar

65. Bathurst Times, 5November1917, p.1. Google Scholar

66.Ibid. Google Scholar

67.Ibid. Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Tierney, Robert