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When Australian workers fought back: the strike wave of the 60s and 70s

10:00am Fri 29 Mar

About this session

The 60s and 70s weren't just a time of hippies, Bob Dylan and student protests. Workers in Australia went on the offensive, engaging in a series of spectacular strikes that shook the conservative nature of Australian society. In 1969, hundreds of thousands of workers took strike action to free the jailed trade union leader Clarrie O'Shea in a week of multiple general strikes. In the years that followed, metal workers, builders labourers, power workers and many others fought the bosses in workplaces across the country. Rank-and-file worker groups flourished, wildcat strikes erupted against the advice of conservative union officials and workers took action in support of broader social issues including the Vietnam War, racism and women’s rights. These years revealed that Australian workers were just as willing as their counterparts overseas to use their industrial might to challenge the power of bosses and governments.

Recommended Reading

Fighting anti-union laws: the Clarrie O'Shea strikesby Katie Woodin Marxist Left Review
Part 1 The flood tide, 1968–74 from Trade Unionism in Australia: A History from Flood to Ebb Tideby Tom Bramble
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