Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

The Great Strike of 1917 in Victoria: Looking Fore and Aft, and from Below

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2014), 106, (1), 69–97.

Abstract

The strike of 1917 in Melbourne had its origins in the industrial changes that took place in the city in the first two decades of the twentieth century, and the industrial tensions of the decade before the war were exacerbated by the circumstances of war. Unemployment, seasonal and general, made men vulnerable to moral blackmail to enlist, true victims of “economic conscription.” And the fact that industrial confrontation persisted into 1919–20 shows that the causes of industrial unrest were deeper and more lasting than war-induced inflation and the consequent erosion of living standards. Historians do less than justice to the workers involved in 1917 if we do not look fore and aft, before 1917 to the conditions that were building class-consciousness among manual workers, and afterwards to the disputes and strikes that followed in 1918–20.

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Footnotes

*The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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47.Reported inAgeandArgus, 31 July 1917. Google Scholar

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52. Age, 17 August, 1 September1917. Responding to a Political Labor Council (Victorian Labor Party) and Socialist Womens League deputation, Peacock opined: “The produce was the property of private individuals, who sold it when they thought the time opportune, in the same way that a working man made his labour available at a certain price if the price were suitable” seeAge, 18 August1917. Google Scholar

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56. Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories, Work-Rooms and Shops for the Year Ended 31 December1919, 4–8. Google Scholar

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58. Argus, 29–31May, 4–6 June1919.Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories, Work-Rooms and Shops for the Year Ended 31 December1919, 6–7. Google Scholar

59. Argus, 11 and 13 June1919; andAge, 20 June 1919;Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories, Work-Rooms and Shops for the Year Ended 31 December1919, 5. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Fahey, Charles

Lack, John