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Research Guides

Land of Opportunity: Australia's post-war reconstruction

Industrial relations and the coal industry

The Commonwealth Government and industrial relations

On 21 May 1946 the artist Donald Friend wrote in his diary:

The world still reverberates with news of calamities ... In Australia, the shipping strike which tied up the entire shipping industry in the country is settled, but already there are threats of another one, coal strikes are so general that they are hardly mentioned in the news, and Sydney is on the border of another electric power crisis for lack of fuel for the Bunnerong powerhouse. And so on.

This was a common view. In the latter years of the Curtin ministry and throughout the Chifley ministry industrial disputes loomed large in Australia, as they had at the end of World War I. Many of the disputes were isolated and short-lived, but they were meticulously reported in the conservative press. In the power and transport industries there were some particularly bitter and long-lasting strikes, affecting the employment and living conditions of hundreds of thousands of Australians, culminating in the miners' strike in the winter of 1949. Communist party officials were prominent in some of the unions in these industries and public frustration over transport problems or power blackouts merged with fears that subversive communists were manipulating workers for their political ends.

Statistics suggest that the level of industrial unrest in 1943–49 was high but not extraordinary. In terms of working days lost per employee, the worst years were 1945–46, but they could not compare with 1916–17, 1919–20 or 1929. The figures also indicate that the incidence of strikes varied greatly throughout the country. New South Wales, the centre of the coal mining industry, recorded by far the highest figures of lost working days. South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania were relatively peaceful. In Queensland and Victoria the figures fluctuated, mainly due to major transport strikes in Victoria in 1946 and 1948, and a long rail strike in Queensland in 1948. The Victorian and Queensland governments in 1948 were of different political persuasions, but their reactions to the strikes were similar: they both enacted emergency legislation and attributed the disputes to the machinations of Communist Party officials. Chifley and his ministers refused to intervene in these strikes.

In 1942 the Commonwealth Government used national security regulations to create three administrative authorities to handle industrial relations in the coal mining and maritime industries. The Stevedoring Industry Commission regulated stevedoring operations, the engagement of labour and working conditions of waterside workers. The determination of pay rates remained the responsibility of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The leadership of the Waterside Workers Federation supported the commission, but there was rank and file opposition to the new gang rotary system and proposed increased hours. Numerous stoppages occurred on the wharves from 1943 onwards, including the long ban on Dutch shipping after the war in support of Indonesian nationalists. Both the federation and the overseas ship owners preferred the commission to the centralised and slow-moving Arbitration Court.

Following an inquiry by Justice AW Foster in 1946, the government introduced legislation to establish the Stevedoring Industry Commission on a permanent basis. It was given power to prevent and settle interstate disputes and deal with industrial matters such as the decasualisation and rationalisation of labour, faster turn-around of ships, and the provision of welfare services and amenities. It was chaired by Justice Richard Kirby and included representatives of the federation and the ship owners. The waterside workers were granted annual leave and attendance pay in 1947 and for a time the industry was relatively quiet. However in 1949 the two federation representatives on the commission were dismissed and the commission came to an end. Legislation was passed setting up the Stevedoring Industry Board with administrative powers, while the arbitration functions were returned to the Arbitration Court.

The Curtin government worked closely with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Australian Workers Union. In December 1941, within two months of coming into office, Curtin convened a conference on industrial matters. Subsequently there were extensive consultations on such matters as workforce regulations, preference to unionists and female wage rates, as well as on the effects of industrial stoppages in the coal mining and other industries. Wage-pegging, which was introduced in February 1942, was the greatest cause of dissension between the unions and both the Curtin and Chifley governments. Determined to avoid a post-war recession, the Chifley government held out for more than two years before finally abolishing the wage-pegging regulations (see chapter 10). It also ignored a promise made by Curtin before the war by resisting ACTU demands for legislation to establish a 40-hour week. Instead, it amended regulations to allow the Arbitration Court to carry out an exhaustive hearing, involving 228 witnesses, which did not come to an end until September 1947. The 40-hour week came into general operation in 1948.

In March 1947 the Attorney-General, HV Evatt, submitted a new Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to Parliament. The Bill aimed at reducing legalism, eliminating formal procedures, promoting conciliation techniques, shortening the time needed for hearings, and establishing a new relationship between the Arbitration Court and the conciliation commissioners. It deprived the Arbitration Court of its arbitral powers except in relation to standard hours in an industry, the basic wage, annual leave and the minimum rate of remuneration for adult women. Apart from these matters, the commissioners would have sole conciliation and arbitration powers, and during hearings neither party could be represented by a lawyer. A chief conciliation commissioner would provide a degree of coordination and the Chief Judge would hold occasional conferences with the commissioners. The disciplinary powers of the court, including its power to deregister unions and cancel awards, would be retained. The Bill was in some ways a compromise between the demands of the ACTU, which had urged the government to confine the court to its judicial functions, and the employers, who considered that the court should have even wider powers. The Arbitration Act came into force in July 1947. Two years later, the government brought in a major amendment to give the court power to control union elections. This represented a victory for the industrial groups in their battle with communists for control of Australia's trade unions.

As well as appointing EA Drake-Brockman Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, the government appointed 17 conciliation commissioners in August 1947. Only three were lawyers, and a number had trade union backgrounds, but in general they proved to be as legalistic as the judges. In his first report in 1948, Drake-Brockman referred to a lack of uniformity in the activities of the commissioners and claimed that the power to enforce awards and orders was still ineffectual. Drake-Brockman died in 1949 and was succeeded by the equally conservative Raymond Kelly.

Series: A2700
Industrial disputes, 15 April 1942 229
Industrial disputes, 24 January 1944 591
Industrial reorganisation of the stevedoring industry, 30 July 1945 896
Stevedoring industry inquiry, 8 April 1946 896A
Stevedoring Industry Bill, 6 February 1947 896B
Stevedoring Industry Bill, 17 February 1947 896C
Stevedoring industry, 8 March 1949 896E
Proposed amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904–1934, 20 November 1945 997
Proposed amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 5 February 1947 997A
Arbitration, 2 March 1949 997E
Standard working week: Commonwealth powers, 17 January 1946 1033
Application of forty hours week to Commonwealth public servants, 15 September 1947 1033A
Attorney General's Department
Series: A432
Stevedoring Industry Bill: post-war future of stevedoring industry, 1944–56
The report (22 February 1946) by Judge AW Foster on the stevedoring industry and Cabinet papers, correspondence and minutes on the Foster Inquiry, funding of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, representations by the Waterside Workers Federation, drafting of the 1946 Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill, and the power of the commission to cancel the registration of the Waterside Workers Federation. The correspondents include FM Forde, HV Evatt, WP Ashley, Sir George Knowles, JGB Castieau, KH Bailey, GG Sutcliffe, AW Foster and J Healy.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, 1947
Explanatory notes, speeches, regulations and correspondence on the drafting of the 1947 Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, suggested amendments, and the preservation of standards prescribed by state legislation. The correspondents include EJ Holloway, Judge WR Kelly, PJ Clarey, KH Bailey, JS Rosevear and R Wilson.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1947–52
Correspondence and documents relating to the drafting of regulations under the Act. The correspondents include KH Bailey, M Stewart, Judge B Sugerman and Judge HB Piper. Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, 1949 1949/496 Notes for second reading speech and correspondence on the drafting of the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, measures to prevent irregularities in union elections, and the implications of the case Australian Workers Union v. Bowden (1948). The correspondents include NE McKenna, CK Comans, JE Taylor, Judge WR Kelly and Judge AW Foster.
1947/530 Pt 2
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, 1949
Notes for second reading speech and correspondence on the drafting of the amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, measures to prevent irregularities in union elections, and the implications of the case Australian Workers Union v. Bowden (1948). The correspondents include NE McKenna, CK Comans, JE Taylor, Judge WR Kelly and Judge AW Foster.
Department of Labour and National Service

Early correspondence of the Central Office and the Administrative and Industrial Relations Divisions of the Department of Labour and National Service, which was set up in 1940.

Series: MP574/1
Minister's (HE Holt) file on waterside workers, 1941 60/1/22
Basic wage: general, ACTU, 1946 412/8/3
Summary of strikes in wartime up to 30 June 1943 420/1/5
Summary of strikes in wartime, 1943–45 420/1/18
Strike of textile workers, 1943 420/15/4
40 hour week representations, 1945–47 425/8/28
Employment conditions: working hours research file, 1935–47 (4 parts) 425/8/37-40
Department of Trade and Customs
Series: CP376/6
Stevedoring Industry Commission, 1947–48
Includes a letter (27 June 1947) from the Stevedoring Industry Commission to WP Ashley on the labour position and productivity at the port of Sydney.
Department of Works and Housing
Series: B95
Post-war reconstruction: public works and general, 1942–46
Includes correspondence (June–July 1945) between LF Loder and HC Coombs on wartime experience of industrial relations, cooperation between unions and management, incentives, efficiency, and payment by results.
Prime Minister's Department
Series: A461
Stevedoring Industry Commission, 1946–49
Parliamentary questions and correspondence of JB Chifley with state premiers concerning the 1947 Stevedoring Industry Commission Bill, membership of waterside employment committees, the transfer of members of the Federated Storemen and Packers Union to the Waterside Workers Federation, and delays on the wharves.
Strikes, Newcastle Steelworks, 1940–43
Includes correspondence (December 1943) between J Curtin and BHP Ltd on the strike and lockout at the Newcastle steelworks.
Queensland railway dispute, 1948
Letters to JB Chifley and parliamentary questions about the Queensland railway dispute (February–March 1948), including protests about action taken by the Queensland government.
Industrial dispute at Bunnerong Power Station, 1944–45
Correspondence between JB Chifley, JM Baddeley and the Sydney County Council concerning strikes at the Bunnerong Power Station in May 1945 and August–September 1945.
Waterside workers strikes, Queensland, 1944–50
Correspondence and parliamentary questions about disputes at Queensland ports. The correspondents include JB Chifley, EM Hanlon and GG Sutcliffe.
Waterside workers disputes: Fremantle, 1944–49
Correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley with the Western Australian premier and others about work stoppages at Fremantle, particularly in December 1944 and November 1946, the diversion of shipping from Fremantle and problems with the new roster system introduced in 1945.
Sydney waterfront disputes, 1946–50
Correspondence and parliamentary questions about delays on the Sydney wharves and the difficulties experienced by ship owners. The correspondents include JB Chifley, GG Sutcliffe and N Kingsbury.
Transport dispute, Victoria, October 1946
Correspondence and press statements about the conference (24 October 1946) on industrial unrest called by the Prime Minister in Melbourne during the transport strike.
John Curtin
Series: M1415
Correspondence W, 1944
Includes correspondence (October–November 1944) with the Waterside Workers Federation and other organisations about a waterfront dispute in Sydney and the future of the Stevedoring Commission.

The Commonwealth Government and the coal industry

The Australian wartime economy was dependent on coal, most of which was produced in New South Wales. Large stocks of coal were needed in all states for railways, tramways, shipping, gas and electricity services, munitions factories, steelworks and the production of building materials. The mining industry was notorious for its primitive industrial relations: before the war, the industry accounted for 75 per cent of all industrial disputes. Intransigent employers, who appeared to care little for high accident rates and the appalling working conditions of the industry, faced a workforce who lived and worked in isolated, self-contained communities. The miners had been crushed in the great lockout of 1929–30 and suffered high unemployment throughout the 1930s. Communist Party members had gained many of the leadership positions within the Miners Federation and the war offered them opportunities to exert their industrial strength after years of repression.

In February 1942 a Commonwealth Coal Commission was established, headed by Norman Mighell, with power 'to control the production, treatment, handling, supply, distribution, storage, marketing and use of coal'. A few months later John Curtin presided at a conference between miners and owners, and a 'Canberra Code' was devised to prevent stoppages and increase productivity. It called for the formation of pit committees that would quickly discuss and settle local disputes. The leaders of the Miners Federation supported the government in calling for higher productivity, but their control of rebellious members weakened as the national emergency abated.

After 1942 coal output declined steadily, falling from a record 12.25 million tons in 1942 to 10 million tons in 1945. Disputes in the industry rose from 447 in 1942 to 693 in 1945 and in the same period working days lost rose from 177,565 to 611,312. In 1943 coastal shipping problems aggravated the coal shortages and by September stocks in Victoria were almost exhausted. Allocation of coal to railways, industries and external lighting was sharply reduced and a Fuel Coordination Committee was set up to deal with possible emergencies. Consumption fell in early 1944, but in the winter another crisis necessitated a new series of cuts, extending to electricity and gas utilities as well as railways, tramways and industries. Prosecutions of individual miners, garnishee regulations and high-level conferences with the federation had little effect. Shortly after the end of the war the miners were involved in an even greater conflict, with the threat of a general strike in New South Wales. Power restrictions were imposed and there were fears that the fuel crisis would place 500,000 jobs in danger. By 1945 the industry was operating at only 85 per cent of feasible capacity.

In January 1945 the government appointed a board of inquiry to report on industrial relations, health and safety, and the provision of amenities in the coal industry. It was headed by Justice C Davidson and, following difficulties with the Miners Federation, he was made sole commissioner in April 1946. In his report he noted the high accident rate and primitive amenities in the industry, but in general he concentrated on the state of anarchy on the New South Wales coalfields. He claimed that discipline was almost non-existent within the federation and most of the disputes during the war were not based on genuine grievances at all.

The government was acutely aware that coal shortages were hampering the restoration of the building industry and the expansion of secondary industries. In July 1946 it responded to the Davidson Report by putting through the Coal Industry Act, described by Chifley as 'the first step in the regeneration of the coal mining industry'. The Act replaced the Coal Commission with a Joint Coal Board and also established a Coal Industry Tribunal. Identical legislation was enacted in New South Wales. The board was given wide powers, including acquiring and managing mines, acquiring or rationing stocks of coal, conducting an insurance scheme, dealing with health and safety, and establishing housing and other facilities in coal mining areas. The tribunal would deal with disputes involving the Miners Federation and any matters referred to it by the board. In February 1947 FH Gallagher was appointed to the tribunal.

The Miners Federation had called for the nationalisation of coal mining, but it accepted the new authorities. The Joint Coal Board was intent on mechanising the processes of cutting, loading and hauling the coal, but it also showed an interest in improving pit and community facilities in the mining districts. Improvements in working hours and leave also resulted from Gallagher's early awards. The years 1946–47 were relatively peaceful on the coalfields, but in 1948 relations between the federation and the board deteriorated. In August 1948 the federation drew up a log of claims, including a 35-hour week, long service leave, a weekly wage increase, and reorganisation of pit and town amenities. These claims were ultimately to lead to the 1949 general strike.

Chifley and other ministers urged the Miners Federation to submit their claims to the Coal Industry Tribunal, but instead the federation negotiated directly with the owners and the board. Gallagher and the board challenged the right of the federation to hold stop-work meetings, while a large majority of the miners voted for a general strike if their log of claims was rejected. The strike began on 27 June 1949 and within two days there were power and transport restrictions and 130,000 workers had been stood down. Chifley rejected calls for the government to bring the parties together and instead the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill was rushed through Parliament. Individuals and unions were prohibited from giving financial support to the strikers and the Arbitration Court was given enforcement powers. Eight union leaders were gaoled for contempt of court. The labour movement was divided, with some unions blaming the Communist Party leaders of the federation and others denouncing the anti-strike actions of the Chifley and McGirr governments. Discontent grew when troops were brought to the coalfields on 28 July and began working open-cut mines. The miners remained united for some time, with a huge majority voting to continue the strike. The branches in Western Australia and Queensland were the first to weaken, but some of the New South Wales miners become restive only in August. The strike ended on 15 August 1949. While some ministers, such as EJ Ward and HV Evatt, were inclined to negotiate, Chifley had been uncompromising throughout the strike, convinced that the communist manipulators within the union movement had to be defeated.

Series: A2700
Coal mining industry: question of the establishment of a central reference authority, 23 November 1943 563
Report of the Fuel Coordination Committee, 4 July 1944 614
Coal, 7 February 1944 614
Coal position, 28 June 1949 614A
Coal industry, 6 December 1944 754
Report of the Fuel Coordination Committee, 11 September 1945 930
The development of Australia's fuel resources, 12 January 1948 930A
Coal Production (Wartime) Act, 24 September 1945 938
Coal report, 16 July 1946 1145
Coal position, 3 November 1948 1557
Production Executive
Series: A2866
Volume 4 W4
JJ Dedman. Industrial consequences of coal shortage, 5 October 1943. 97/1943
Attorney-General's Department
Series: A432
Coal industry: general strike, New South Wales, June 1949 (2 parts)
Correspondence, statements, transcripts, leaflets, circulars and newspaper cuttings on the powers of the Commonwealth Government to intervene in the strike, public and trade union meetings in support of the strikers, the activities of communist organisations and proceedings under the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act. The correspondents include KH Bailey and E Hattam.
National Emergency (Coal Strike) Bill, 1949
Correspondence, the draft bill and the proclamation (17 August 1949) on the termination of the miners' strike.
Coal Industry Bill 1949: extension of the Coal Industry Act 1946 to states other than New South Wales, 1946–49
Correspondence, minutes and statements on the drafting of the 1946 Coal Industry Bill, the jurisdiction of the Coal Industry Tribunal and the extension of the Coal Industry Act to states other than New South Wales. The correspondents include JB Chifley, WP Ashley, KH Bailey, MC Boniwell, NF Stuart and PW Nette.
1949/1140 Pt 1
Department of Labour and National Service

Early correspondence of the central office and the Administrative and Industrial Relations Divisions of the Department of Labour and National Service, which was set up in 1940.

Series: MP574/1
Coal Industry Act, 1946 2/31/1
Conference: proposed joint statutory authority for New South Wales coal industry, 1946 26/6/11
Coal mining: general, 1940–47 420/5/1
Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, 1942–47 420/5/4
Coal miners, Victoria, 1942–45 420/5/6
Collie coal miners, WA, 1943–48 420/5/18
Leigh Creek coalfield SA, 1945 420/21/239
Department of Post War Reconstruction
Series: A9790
Coal: policy, 1947–49
Correspondence between HC Coombs, AS Brown and NF Stuart of the Joint Coal Board concerning coal supplies needed for building materials industries, measures to increase coal production, migrant labour for the coal industry, and housing for miners.
Coal production: WA, 1946–50
Correspondence about shortages of coal in Western Australia and the effect on housing and industry, accommodation for miners at Collie, and the allocation of coal by the Commonwealth Coal Commissioner. The correspondents include JB Chifley, JJ Dedman, HC Coombs and AS Brown.
Royal Commission on Coal Industry: Justice Davidson's report, 1946
Correspondence concerning the development needs of the coal industry and the 1946 Coal Industry Bill. The correspondents include JB Chifley and AS Brown.
Series: A9816
Coal mining industry: general, 1944–48 (2 parts)
Correspondence on coal mining industry in the post-war period, the isolation of miners, coal consumption, the inquiry by Justice Davidson, regional planning in the Hunter Valley, coal shortages, and the 1946 Coal Industry Bill. Correspondents include JB Chifley, HC Coombs, KJ McKenzie, TW Swan and R Jack.
Blair Athol railway and coalfield, 1944–47 (2 parts)
Correspondence on the development of the Blair Athol coalfield in Queensland, proposed construction of a railway to Blair Athol and the proposal for a Commonwealth–Queensland commission to develop the coalfield. Correspondents include JB Chifley, JG Crawford, JL Knott, SF Cochran and W Rogers.
Coal production in Western Australia, 1946
Correspondence on coal production in Western Australia and the possibility of Commonwealth subsidies. The correspondents include HC Coombs and KJ McKenzie.
1946/118 Pt 1
Coal consumption and stocks, Victoria, 1943–48
Monthly returns showing the quantity of coal received from NSW, coal produced in the state coal mine at Wonthaggi and other Victorian mines, total stocks, and quantities of coal consumed by the Victorian Railways, gas companies and other companies.
1947/289 Pt 1
Coal industry: press cuttings, 1948
Newspaper cuttings (June–November 1948), mainly from Sydney and Melbourne newspapers, on the coal industry, production, the Joint Coal Board, the Miners Federation and industrial disputes.
1948/148 Pt 1
Department of War Organisation of Industry
Series: A11979
Fuel Coordination Committee, 1944
Report (10 May 1944) of the Fuel Coordination Committee, correspondence and minutes on the administration of coal restrictions, shortages of coal supplies, priorities and economy measures. The correspondents include JJ Dedman, GT Chippindall, PC Greenland, G Noall, HL Williams, WH Tucker and WC Wurth.
Fuel Coordination Committee, 1944
Report (29 September 1944) of the Fuel Coordination Committee and correspondence on the distribution of coal to the states, railways and shipping, coal restrictions, and the Cabinet sub-committee on coal restrictions. The correspondents include JJ Dedman, EJ Ward, GT Chippindall, NR Mighell, G Noall and WH Tucker.
Fuel Coordination Committee, 1944–45
Report (6 November 1944) of the Fuel Coordination Committee, correspondence and minutes on the coal position, coal stocks held by railways and in the states, and meetings of the committee. The correspondents include JJ Dedman, GT Chippindall, NR Mighell and G Noall.
Coal: Cabinet Sub-Committee, 1944–45
Reports, agenda papers, correspondence and minutes of the Cabinet sub-committee on coal restrictions, chaired by JJ Dedman, and the Fuel Coordination Committee, chaired by GT Chippindall and AA Fitzgerald. The correspondents include GT Chippindall, G Noall, DJ Howse and HC Coombs.
Fuel Coordination Committee, 1945
Report (28 August 1945) of the Fuel Coordination Committee, Cabinet and Production Executive papers, and correspondence and minutes on priorities in distribution of coal, the decline in stocks since 1944, cuts in the supply of coal to industries, relations with gas companies, and the disbandment of the committee. The correspondents include HC Coombs, JJ Sheils, HP Moss, WH Tucker and VD Wilson.
Series: CP80/1
Coal, 1942–44 (3 parts)
Reports and correspondence on the coal situation, the consequences of coal shortages, coal rationing, and relations with the Miners Federation. The correspondents include GT Chippindall, NR Mighell, A Crawford and T Critchley.
Bundle 8/S479
Coal, 1944
Minutes of a meeting (23 August 1944) of the Cabinet sub-committee on coal restrictions, chaired by JJ Dedman, correspondence about coal restrictions, classification of industries in terms of essentiality, and the effects of reduced rail transport. The correspondents include JJ Dedman and GT Chippindall.
Bundle 18/S800/6
Coal industry: Cabinet agendum 754, 1944–45
Includes notes (28 November 1944) by EHB Foxcroft on a Cabinet paper proposing the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the coal industry.
Bundle 18/S800/13
Prime Minister's Department
Series: A461
Joint Coal Board, 1947–50 (2 parts)
Includes correspondence, press statements and parliamentary questions concerning the transfer of the functions of the Coal Commissioner to the Joint Coal Board in 1947 and the drafting of regulations. The correspondents include JB Chifley, WJ McKell, J McGirr, MC Boniwell and KA Cameron.
Board of inquiry on coal production, 1944–46 (2 parts)
Correspondence concerning the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry, headed by Justice Davidson, to inquire into the efficiency and continuity of coal production, the representation of coal owners and the Miners Federation on the commission, the report (30 April 1945) of a national survey of the health of coal miners, a possible pension scheme for miners, problems on the northern coalfields, delays in hearings, the resignation of I Williams as a member of the board, the appointment (4 March 1946) of Davidson as sole commissioner, and the refusal of the Miners Federation to give further evidence. The correspondents include FM Forde, J Curtin, JB Chifley, NR Mighell, CG Davidson, I Williams, H Wells and AH Woolston.
Coal: general, 1924–49 (4 parts)
Press statements and correspondence of J Curtin and JB Chifley, mainly with state premiers, the Coal Commissioner and the Joint Coal Board, concerning coal shortages in particular states, cities and industries; the allocation of coal to states; productivity, employment and shipping difficulties.
Blair Athol coalfield, 1946–50 (2 parts)
Correspondence on a proposal by EM Hanlon that the Commonwealth and Queensland governments jointly acquire and operate the coal mines at Blair Athol. The correspondents include JB Chifley, JJ Dedman, HL Williams, HC Coombs, JK Jensen and PW Nette.
Coal production: post-war extension of coal mining industry, 1946–48
Correspondence of JB Chifley with WJ McKell and KA Cameron of the Joint Coal Board on the development of new state coal mines, open-cut mining, production of coal mining machinery, employment of European displaced persons in the mines, and coal handling facilities at Queensland ports.
Coalfields disputes, 1941–45 (2 parts)
Parliamentary questions, prime ministerial statements, correspondence and newspaper cuttings on stoppages on the New South Wales coalfields, coal shortages, national security regulations, and the effect of strikes on public transport. The correspondents include J Curtin, NR Mighell and GWS Grant.
Industrial disputes: coal dispute, June 1949
Letters and telegrams to JB Chifley condemning or supporting the New South Wales coal miners and their strike. Includes a letter (8 July 1949) from Chifley to P Martin referring to the freezing of union funds and arguing that, owing to the refusal of the miners to allow their claims to be dealt with by a tribunal, thousands of women and children were denied the basic necessities of life.
JB Chifley
Series: M1459
Coal strike, 1949
Representations to JB Chifley from individuals, businesses, trade unions and other organisations about the government's handling of the coal strike.
Coal strike, 1949
Representations to JB Chifley from branches of the Australian Labor Party about the coal strike.
Coal strike, 1949
Representations to JB Chifley from trades and labour councils about the coal strike.

Further reading

Beasley, Margo, Wharfies: a history of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia, Halstead Press, Sydney, 1996.

Butlin, SJ and Schedvin, CB, War Economy, 19421945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1977.

Deery, Phillip, 'The light on the hill flickers: change in the coal mining industry, 1945–1949', in A Century of Social Change, Pluto Press, Sydney, 1992, pp. 82–91.

Deery, Phillip (ed.), Labour in Conflict: the 1949 coal strike, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1978.

Foenander, O de R, Studies in Australian Labour Law and Relations, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1952.

Gollan, Robin, The Coalminers of New South Wales: a history of the union, 18601960, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1963.

Hagan, Jim, The History of the ACTU, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1981.

Shaw, AGL and Bruns, GR, The Australian Coal Industry, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1947.

Sheridan, Tom, Division of Labour: industrial relations in the Chifley years, 19451949, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1989.

Walker, Alan, Coaltown: a social survey of Cessnock, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1945.