Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Queensland Workers in the 1928 Waterside Strike

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2019), 116, (1), 83–111.

Abstract

The 1928 strike of waterside workers against the Beeby Award was a national one, yet most of the histories of it concentrate on Melbourne. Queensland wharfies, like their Melbourne counterparts, had won improved working conditions that shipowners wanted to reverse. Watersiders in Brisbane and other Queensland ports, as well as Melbourne, stayed on strike for longer than anywhere else. This article examines Queensland wharfies’ role in the strike, including their efforts to extend it, and how their activities showed the divisions in that state’s labour movement. It situates the different positions that Waterside Workers’ Federation branches took in 1928 in the context of the industrial politics of notable ports. This article takes account of conflict between the McCormack state Labor government and militant unions, including a development in Bowen which was as much an epilogue to the 1927 railway lockout as it was part of the waterside strike.

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Author details

Kelloway, Phoebe