Conflict on the Waterfront: Fremantle Dock Workers and 'New Unionism', 1889 to 1945
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Hal Colebatch's controversial book Australia's Secret War is one recent example in a century of criticism, often very loosely based on fact, to which waterfront workers in Australia have been subjected. When not being maligned, waterside workers have often been ignored and their contribution to Australia's economic, political, social and maritime history-including their sacrifices in wartime-remains largely unacknowledged. It is for this reason that Lew Hillier began his history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union in Port Melbourne with the words, 'This is the story of a band of men-men who over a long period have been much maligned by some sections of the society in which we live'. This paper focuses on two such Fremantle unions, the Fremantle Lumpers' Union (hereafter Lumpers), formed in 1889, and the Coastal Dock, Rivers and Harbour Works Union (hereafter Dockies), which formed in 1911. Their members loaded and unloaded cargo and undertook related work on the Fremantle Harbour from the 1890s to the end of the Second World War.
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