The locomotive enginemen: a history of the West Australian Locomotive Engine Drivers', Firemen's and Cleaners' Union
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This book explores the social phenomenon of the rise and decline of trade unionism in 20th century Australia through the history of one particular union, Western Australia’s longest running industrial union (1898–1999), the West Australian Locomotive Engine Drivers’, Firemen’s and Cleaners’ Union [WALEDF&CU]. The union’s history provides a means for examining the influence of the British industrial diaspora on the development of Australian trade unionism; unique features of the Australian industrial system, and reasons for the mid-20th century dominance of unionism, and its relatively sharp decline a since the 1970s. Chapters contain discussion of the union’s formation; how its progress in obtaining recognition and improved wages and working conditions for members compared with similar unions in Eastern Australia and Britain; the impact of two world wars the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s, and the effects of arbitration, industrial action, changing technologies, privatisation and amalgamation. In the concluding chapter, the differences that enabled the British footplate union, ASLEF, to survive while the WALEDF&CU was forced to amalgamate with other transport unions are examined, and the author concludes that, along with the debilitating effects of mass redundancies sparked by rationalisation policies in the rail industry, disunity within the rank and file was a major cause of the union’s demise.
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