Jun 15, 2009

Why the building industry needs a history lesson

It’s hard to think of a major figure from Australian trade union history who wouldn’t fall foul of the current building industry code, writes Jeff Sparrow.

Jeff Sparrow

Writer, editor, broadcaster, and an Honorary Fellow at Victoria University.

It was a burning hot day and I thought the occasion a good one, so I called upon the men to follow me, to which they immediately consented.

That’s James Stephens’ account of a strike on April 21, 1856. That walkout of construction workers at the University of Melbourne secured the eight hour day in Australia, one of the first places it came into effect. Stephens’ words have been celebrated by the union movement ever since.

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