Labour History

Right vs Left in the Tasmanian Liquor Trades Union

Labour History (2011), 101, (1), 145–160.


Battles for control are a characteristic of Australian union history and have been analysed in terms of factors such as power, participation, and ideology. The struggle for control of the Tasmanian Branch of the Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union (FLAIEU) in the 1970s provides, at face value, a late example of these post-war battles between Left and Right. Closer inspection, however, shows that participants represented their actions, at the time and in hindsight, in both political and pragmatic terms. In political terms, a change in leadership of the FLAIEU in Tasmania had significance in its potential to affect the state’s representation in the Australian Council of Trades Unions and locally the eventual outcome was a rare defeat for the dominant industrial Right. This leadership conflict also saw the emergence of a younger and more vigorous leadership less focussed on the politics of factionalism and bringing a different industrial approach to the Branch more suited to the needs of members in a changing industry.

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Author details

Hess, Michael