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Issue #1922      July 6, 2020

Nationwide rally to miners’ side coalfields morale high


Coalfields morale was never higher as mineworkers entered the second week of their vanguard battle to lift their own and all workers’ wages and living standards before the new depression hits Australia.

Baby-starving, anti-strike legislation, threats to use scab labour and to call out the military have served only to solidify the miners’ ranks, rouse their fighting spirit and win them more support.

Nation-wide awareness by workers that the miners’ fight is their fight is shown in the support pledged to miners at hundreds of meetings in all States and in the flood of telegrams protesting against anti-miner legislation reaching Federal and State Labor politicians from as far North as Darwin around the coast to Perth, Western Australia.

Splitters rebuffed

Newcastle branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation carried by an overwhelming majority a resolution supporting the miners’ strike. A Grouper amendment supporting the government and urging the miners to submit their claims to arbitration was crushingly defeated.

A mass meeting of railway workers at Cardiff Loco Workshops pledged full support for the miners’ strike and condemned the Labor Government’s fund-freezing legislation.

From Darwin came a telegram reading: Darwin workers incensed by starvation tactics of Federal Government. Mass stop-work meetings today condemned legislation and Labor Party betrayal. All workers said no legislation would prevent them assisting their mates, financial response was mighty.

In Sydney, telegrams backing the miners are pouring in from factories, district meetings of locked-out workers, union meetings, and meetings of seamen and wharfies right along the waterfront.

250 BWIU [Building Workers’ Industrial Union] delegates at the Trades Hall last Saturday heard miner-speaker W Steers and, by 240 to 10, carried a resolution condemning the fund-freezing legislation. They collected £13/10/1 to aid the miners’ struggle.

The Hospital Workers’ Union executive has joined the formidable lineup of unions backing the miners and has demanded that the ACTU should declare its opposition to the Government’s anti miner actions.

Rap fund-freezing

The Postal Workers’ Union executive has declared that freezing of union funds has been the declared policy of the “Liberal” and Country parties and should be totally abhorrent to the Labor Government.

Union stewards at Electric Power Workshops, Chullora, passed a resolution protesting against the State Government’s drastic “emergency” regulations.

Other protests have been registered by mass meetings of workers at McMahon’s Point ship repair yard, wharfies at No. 2, Woolloomooloo, and a number of other points along the waterfront, AFULE (engine drivers), women rail workers at Sydney Yards sub-branch, workers at W T Avery’s, AWU workers at Education Department, while seamen on at least twelve ships in Sydney Harbour have roundly condemned the Labor Government’s anti-union actions in both State and Federal Parliaments.

Lying press propaganda that the strike is against arbitration, from which, it is alleged, the miners have gained many benefits, has been answered effectively by the Miners’ Federation.

Reaffirming that the strike is against the coal owners and their monopolist allies, the Federation declares that every gain the miners have won in the past has been by struggle and only by struggle.

£100 challenge

Challenging claims that the Joint Coal Board had vigorously carried out its job of improving pit and town amenities, the Federation has declared it will give £100 to any approved charity for every swimming pool, community centre, or meeting hall that can be found on the coalfields.

The Federation’s challenge is supported by the Joint Coal Board’s own report, which admits that out of 140 mines only five had a satisfactory bath and change house, only four had underground sanitation, and only twelve had underground crib rooms.

Decent unionists have nothing but contempt and loathing for the mealymouthed clique at the head of the ACTU and NSW Labor Council, who are attempting to play the same strikebreaking role in this struggle as they played in the steel, gas and fire brigades strikes.

Leftwing union leaders voiced the sentiments of all honest workers when they protested against Labor Council President Anderson attending last week’s talks with ACTU officials after he had made a statement to the bosses’ press condemning the miners’ strike.

After Leftwing officials had strongly condemned Anderson’s actions and objected to sitting at the same table with him during the first day’s talks, he stayed away on the second day.

The resolutions carried by a few ALP Electoral Councils supporting the pro-coal-owner policy of the Government will cut no more ice with striking miners than the similar resolution steamrollered through NSW Labor Council by the right-wing.

The real feelings of all decent ALP members were expressed by Newcastle Trades Hall secretary Dowling and three other prominent members who resigned from the Labor Party in disgust with its fund-freezing legislation and joined the Communist Party.

This legislation, which opposition leader Menzies has boasted has been a plank in the “Liberal” Party’s program since its inception, has, like the mass lockout of workers, boomeranged on its sponsors.

The article originally appeared in Tribune July, 1949.

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