for the record I am a member of both @AusUnemployment and the @IEUVicTas, because like many people who receive unemployment benefits, I have a job that does not pay me enough to live on
similarly, lots of people who are currently making enough money to support themselves through paid employment are members of @AusUnemployment because they are precariously employed. the boundary between "worker" and "welfare recipient" is illusory
Unemployed workers have always been part of the Australian workers' movement. (The clue is in the word "worker".) the relationship between employed and unemployed workers was not always smooth! but we were there.
I believe Fleming was actually on Trades Hall Council as a delegate of the Victorian Operative Bootmakers Union – his trade, when he had paid work. But he was also, often, unemployed. Unemployed worker organisers have always been closely tied to the trade union movement!
Trades Hall objected to the formation of the Unemployed Workers Union in the 1930s. Not because they thought unemployed workers didn't need a union, but because they already *had* a formal system for representation of the unemployed; the debate was over the form that should take
per Verity Burgmann: in 1927, Betsy Matthias was the delegate of the Unemployed Workers Union to the Labor Council of NSW (Unions NSW); she also did strike support work for employed workers, notably in the 1929 timberworkers' strike
Depression era Unemployed Workers Union members usually had previous organising experience with other trade unions. i have told people to read/listen to Wendy Lowenstein's oral histories on this roughly twice a month for the past six months
(note that there were a couple of diff orgs for the unemployed with diff names and if they weren't Victorian I may not be absolutely sure which side of which organising/tactical/organisational split they were on)
there continued to be an Unemployed Workers Union in Australia until the 1980s, when it fell victim to some arcane sectarian manouvering I am not fully across
Paddy Garrity, of course, gave his life to the union movement: as an MUA organiser, as Arts Officer for Trades Hall, as an MEAA member – and as an Unemployed Workers Union organiser
Wendy Lowenstein interviewed Paddy Garrity about his work organising the unemployed in 1995; you can listen to the interview here
like... I simply do not believe that Trades Hall affiliated union bureaucrats (esp those over, say, 45) who dismiss unemployed worker organising are unaware of its long history. i think they're actively trying to erase that history.
the establishment wing of the labour movement likes to pose as its oldest, truest form of that movement, but it's just a pose. Verity Burgmann talks about this in her (fab) history of the Australian Labor Party, "In Our Time" – free to read here:
history of the Woolongong Out of Workers union (WOW) (1983-1989), by founding member Nick Southall
the ALP-Left Northcote City Council was initially supportive of the 70s resurgence of the Melb Unemployed Workers Union, even giving them a building... but by 1983 things had soured. Council evicted the UWU and *immediately* demolished the building, with all their stuff inside
just a fun story, might shed some light on a few things idk
here's Michael Redford and Susie Brown of the Unemployed Workers Union, opposite Northcote Town Hall, waving a flag in the rubble of their headquarters. some UWU members lost all their possessions in the demolition (The Canberra Times, 23 Nov 1983)
i can't believe this
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