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Listed under:  Society  >  Citizenship  >  Politics  >  Industrial relations  >  Trade unions
Video

A Big Country - On the Hook, 1976: The hungry mile

This clip shows scenes of the working conditions of the waterside workers in the 1970s, comparing them with scenes from a film illustrating the working conditions of the waterside workers in the 1930s. It opens with scenes of workers on the wharves in the 1970s followed by dramatised black-and-white footage from the Waterside ...

Video

A Big Country - On the Hook, 1976: ‘They look after you down here’

This clip shows the effect of mechanisation on the working conditions of wharf labourers in the 1970s with footage of overhead cranes, containers being lifted on and off ships and interviews with men who are seen attaching crane hooks to offload cargo. Some close-ups show a man's hand operating controls on a large machine ...

Video

November Victory, 1955: 'A fair go for the working people'

This clip from a black-and-white narrated and dramatised 1955 documentary by the Waterside Workers' Federation (WWF) Film Unit, shows the WWF 1954 campaign to unite workers and the public behind their fight against the 1954 amendments to the 1949 Stevedoring Act. Waterside workers' wives support the cause by packing food ...

Video

Pensions For Veterans, 1953: 'The price of profit'

This black-and-white narrated clip from a 1953 documentary produced by the Waterside Workers' Federation (WWF) Film Unit highlights excerpts from a 1945 medical report on the health of waterside workers. It also shows scenes that reveal past and present dangers of working on the waterfront. Footage depicts men straining ...

Video

The Bones of Building, 1956: 'This scaffolding’s safe'

This black-and-white narrated clip from a 1956 safety film produced by the Waterside Workers' Federation (WWF) Film Unit for the Building Workers Industrial Union depicts a dramatised sequence of a building site accident and its aftermath in order to draw attention to the dangers of ignoring union workplace safety advice. ...

Video

'The hungry miles', 1955 - part 11 of 12

This is a clip from a black-and-white Australian dramatised documentary titled 'The hungry miles' that outlines the history of unionism among waterside workers and their attempts to maintain and improve working conditions in the early 1950s. It shows men and cars outside the 'Waterside Employment Centre' in Napoleon Street, ...

Image

Women unionists marching on Black Friday during the Brisbane General Strike, 1912

This is a black-and-white photograph of an orderly procession of women walking four or five abreast past Brisbane's Treasury Building in the city centre on 2 February 1912, a day that became known as 'Black Friday'. The majority of the women appear to be dressed in their best and wearing hats for the occasion. Several horsedrawn ...

Image

Freed unionist shearers following the 1891 Shearers' Strike, 1893

This is a black-and-white poster showing 13 shearers who had been jailed in 1891 during the central Queensland Shearers' Strike. Across the top of the poster, in large letters, is printed 'FREEDOM WITHOUT DISHONOUR' and 'UNIONIST PRISONERS'. The poster goes on to identify each man individually as having been sentenced at ...

StillImage

Non-unionised workers unloading coal during a strike, 1911

This is a black-and-white photograph showing non-unionised workers unloading coal from rail wagons during a strike at the Sunshine Harvester Works in Melbourne in 1911. About 11 men stand in the rail wagons with a pile of what is probably coal sits to their right. The men are dressed casually in shirts and trousers, with ...

StillImage

Letter from prime minister Andrew Fisher to Hugh Victor McKay, 1911

This is a letter from Andrew Fisher, then prime minister of Australia, to Hugh Victor McKay, owner of the Sunshine Harvester Works, dated 24 February 1911. The letter concerns the 1911 strike at the Works over compulsory trade unionism. Fisher writes: 'I should like to meet you in reference to the harvester industrial dispute. ...

StillImage

Typed poem by Nathaniel McKay, 'Union in "[hell]"', c1911

This is a satirical poem by Nathaniel Breakey McKay, older brother of industrialist Hugh Victor McKay, responding to the purchase by the Union of Chicago of a cemetery in which only members of the Union could be buried. The poem describes a staunch union member refusing to stay in heaven because it also includes non-unionists. ...

Video

My Place - Episode 12: 1898: Rowley, Workers' rights

Rowley tells his mother that he went to see the manager of the brickworks about getting his father a job. His mother eventually tells Rowley what caused Rowley's father to leave home. Rowley learns of his father's involvement in sticking up for the workers and his eventual sacking.

Moving Image

The 1998 waterfront dispute and Australian values

Imagine being locked out of your job and told it was because you were a member of a union. This is what happened to 1400 waterside workers, members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), on 7 April 1998. The dispute that resulted was one of the most bitter in Australian history. Watch as ABC's 7.30 Report covers events ...

Moving Image

Strike for better pay and conditions

How can not going to work help to improve pay? Find out the reasons why school teachers went on strike in June 2008. See how strike action can be used by workers to improve their working conditions and pay.

Interactive resource

Biography: Federation people: Mary Lee

Investigate the suffragist Mary Lee's role in the move towards Federation. Examine two different types of biographies of Lee: one short and the other more detailed. Inspect examples of how she was visually depicted in her time. This learning object is one in a series of objects in the 'Biography: Federation people' series.

Interactive resource

Biography: Federation people: John Watson

Investigate the role of the first Labor prime minister, John (Chris) Watson, in the events leading up to, and following, Federation. Examine two different types of biographies of Watson: one short and the other more detailed. Inspect examples of how he was visually depicted in his time. This learning object is one in a ...

Video

Strictly Ballroom, 1992: Triumph

In this clip Scott and Fran triumph over the rigid rules of the Australian Dancing Federation with their electrifying performance of the paso doble. Although disqualified by the judges for failing to dance 'strictly ballroom' steps, they are inspired by the emotional support provided by Scott's father, Doug. His slow rhythmical ...

Image

Waterside Workers Federation of Australia commemorative banner, 1920s

This is a double-sided commemorative banner of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia dating from the 1920s. It consists of two large oil-painted canvases joined with a cotton border. The side seen here depicts a woman draped in red and white cloth, holding the Australian flag. She is surrounded ...

Collection

Trade unions in Australia

This collection of 25 digital curriculum resources traces union activity since the second half of the 19th century. It is organised into eight categories - the eight-hour day campaign; significant union leaders; women and unions; the shearers' strikes of the 1890s; the great General Strike of 1917; unions on the waterfront; ...

Video

Pensions For Veterans, 1953: Veterans of the waterfront

This is a black-and-white narrated clip from a 1953 documentary produced by the Waterside Workers' Federation (WWF) Film Unit. It portrays the physically demanding work of waterside workers and asks what fate awaits veterans who cease work. A montage of close-up scenes and orchestral music depicts younger wharfies working ...