AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY

Railway Voices CD: 10. THE TWENTIES

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Stan Jones

There was however a developing renewal of a militant attitude towards many matters associated with the work. And because of the inability of the trade unions to carry out real campaigns at that period, there developed a desire for job organisation. That was in the period, about 1925, and the first organisations to be established, there's considerable rivalry as to which was the very first, were at Enfield Loco and Eveleigh Loco Workshops. The trade unions gave support to the new shop committee movement, and the Commissioner at the time viewed the shop committees in some way as an alternative to unions. We were going through the period now when the workshops were feeling the impact of the development of the electric system, electrical train system. This, to a large extent, shifted the centre of influence in the railways, over a period of years, from the Eveleigh Loco Workshops to the Electric Car Shops, Chullora.

Poem: The Gates of 23 Anon 1928, The Ticket Collector's Soliloquy. "Railroad" Journal of the Australian Railways Union. Recited by John Dengate

Have you ever stood for hours on a cold wet concrete floor,
Clipping tickets as they pass you 'til your hands are stiff and sore,
And when you roar out show 'em, all the flappers murmur glee,
That's the way we put our time in, underneath on 23.

Greg Patmore

And what we find generally from 1920 onwards, is an improvement in the railway unions' position. They went and got Federal Awards, the Labour Government was re-elected under Premier Lang in 1925-1927. He restored the strikers' seniority, he attempted to de-register the loyalist unions that were formed in 1917, the scab unions, but he failed because of the Upper House. But also the 44 hour week was introduced in 1926, so there were a number of major gains for the railway workers in that period.

Railway Voices a CD of Australian railway workers stories with songs and poems