Marking 100 years since The Great Strike of 1917, when 100,000 workers around Australia walked off the job to protest changing workplace conditions.
Join us as we celebrate 100 years of struggle and solidarity at the launch of The Great Strike of 1917 Exhibition.
Guest Speaker : Lucy Taksa, Professor of Business & Economic Centre for Workforce futures & author of ‘Commemorating Past Struggles for Workplace Rights’.
Cocktail food and beverages provided by the Hunter Peace Group and Union of Australian Women Newcastle Branch.
Hosted by the MUA Newcastle branch and sponsored by Hunter Workers, Unions NSW and The Great Strike Committee.
The source of consternation was the introduction of time cards, designed to monitor worker productivity.
As part of the new workplace systems, foremen began watching over labourers, counting the time it took them to do certain tasks.
The strikers called it "Americanising work" or "Robotism". The managers, "scientific management".
Workers believed the new system was turning them into machines, de-skilling them and destroying their collective bonds.
Their concerns came to a head at 9am on August 2, 1917, when employees at the Randwick tram and Eveleigh railways workshops in Sydney called a strike.
With Australia still deeply involved in the war effort, it was a controversial time to launch large scale industrial action.
The strike was declared over a month later, without having achieved its objectives.
Yet the Great Strike of 1917 is an event that resonates today.
The dispute wasn't about pay, but the impact of technology and new forms of work organisation.
A worker from 1917 wouldn't have any trouble in understanding contemporary media discussions. We're dealing with a similar situation: new technology — automation, robots, algorithms and the gig economy — is changing the way we work. Ref: Stan Correy ABC RN
Solidarity is Our Strength