Welcome to the first (and only) edition of Hummer for 2011. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History and the 100th edition of its journal, Labour History.As part of those celebrations the 100th edition carried a series of commemorative essays which surveyed the rich and diverse field of Australian labour history.
This edition of Hummer is a similarly diverse publication. Warwick Eather and Drew Cottle’s opening article examines the black ban imposed by Newcastle unions and Australian Labor Party (ALP) local branches during 1943. Their highly original piece of scholarship shines new light on the Australian experience of World War II; the growing activism and agency of Newcastle-based unions; and, in line with recent trends in labour history, the role of employer associations.
Rowan Day’s article on the Industrial Workers of the World also provides new insights into a well-mined area of scholarship. Whereas labour historians have typically focussed their attentions on the organisation of the IWW in Sydney, Day, by contrast, turns to the IWW’s activities in the western New South Wales mining town of Cobar.As he vividly describes, the hostility and often violence directed towards the ‘Wobblies’ was as fierce here as In urban areas of Australia.
Another piece of original scholarship is also provided by branch stalwart, Sue Tracey, in her biographical sketch of the life of the charismatic early twentieth century NSW ALP organiser Harriet Powell, who, like, many other Labor women, has not been properly recognised by historians. Indeed, for Tracey, had this indefatigable organiser of new members, talented orator and committed socialist, been a man she would have surely represented Labor in Parliament.
Branch Executive member,John Dean, revisits the little-analysed Sydney Atlantean Bus Dispute of 1970-71 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its conclusion. In his opinion the dispute ended in a victory of sorts for the relevant union, the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Association, as it struggled to prevent the Department of Government Transport converting one-man operated single-decker buses to one-man operated double-decker buses throughout Sydney.
Elsewhere in this edition, on the 120th anniversary of the ALP’s foundation in 1891, an edited extract from Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno’s A Little History of the Australian Labor Party is republished. In the final piece, Rowan Cahill pens a sensitive obituary which covers the extraordinary life of Sydney-based labour movement activist, Della Elliott, who passed away earlier this year.
Sadly, this will be the last edition of Hummer thut I will have the pleasure of editing. l would like to thank all those who have contributed to the pages of Hummer over the past three years and in particular, acknowledge the hard work of Sue Tracey and Margaret Walters in the production of Hummer over that period. Merry Christmas to all Hummer readers and enjoy a happy and safe new year.
Editor of The Hummer
Secretary, Sydney Branch ASSLH