1986, English, Book, Illustrated edition:The making of the AWU / John Merritt.


  • The Amalgamated Shearers' Union of Australasia was fromed in 1887, seven years later becoming the Australian Workers' Union. By 1920 the AWU was a giant general union and for the next forty years it dominated the Australian union movement and the ALP. John Merritt's study, based on little-used union and pastoralists' records, concentrates on the period to 1911 when the AWU, while still a shearers and shedhands' union, achieved organisational stability and acquired a distinctive character. The union which emerges from his account differs from the AWU presented in W.G. Spence's History of the AWU and from the shearers' unions of Australian folksong. Radical shearers did exsit, but the making of the AWU was more the achievement of men who were indifferent to unionism. They convinced the AWU's leaders that the unions future would depend less upon class-consciousness than upon favourable arbitration awards; the 1907 award set the union on its path to power and influence. Merritt's argument involves a re-examination of the strikes of the 189-s and a close analysis of the shearing workforce, sheares and pastoralists. In the process he challenged some of the labour movement's most enduring legends. His book will be required reading for students of Australian history and for anyone interested in the events that have so influenced Australia's folk heitage. (Inside cover)



The Making of the AWU by John Merritt