The Australian Standard Garratt: The engine that brought down a government
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This paper concerns three significant aspects of twentieth century history in both Australia and Britain: trade unions, railways and war. During the world wars trade unionists in both countries worked under poor conditions, and sometimes endured loss of hard-won privileges in order to further the war effort, and in the hope that governments and employers would acknowledge their sacrifices and redress their grievances once peace was restored. The paper discusses two instances, one in Western Australia and one in Britain, where these grievances were not addressed after the War, and examines the different outcomes. After comparing the circumstances in which the Australian Standard Garratt and the WD ‘Austerity’ heavy freight locomotives were produced, it explores the problems with these engines and the outcomes arising from union grievances. Finally, the paper posits that studying the outcomes of these industrial disputes on the railways, arising out of wartime conditions, furthers our understanding of the stresses of war on society.