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.


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.

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Author details

Tierney, Robert