Hunter Workers celebrates 150 years
Hunter Workers – formerly known as Newcastle Trades Hall Council – is today celebrating 150 years of continuous function, promoting the rights of workers in the Hunter region.
The Council was first convened 150 years ago, when a group of unionists met in Newcastle on Saturday, November 20, 1869. This meeting was part of the fight to win the eight hour workday, and was convened by the Maitland Eight Hour Committee, seeking to expand the eight hour movement into the region, a movement that had been sweeping the industrialising world in the 19th century.
At the close of the meeting, one of the Maitland committee members, George Galley, is recorded as saying: "If the workmen were, in a body, to combine together, they could do as they liked with their masters."
The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch congratulates Hunter unionists on this historic achievement. It is fitting that today, IEU members in Newcastle took industrial action to defend and preserve their union won rights and conditions. Professional officers, education officers and administrative staff working at the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Catholic Schools Office (CSO) stopped work this morning and gathered to discuss their industrial position at Mayfield West Bowling Club.
While the nature of the challenges between workers and employers may have changed in these 150 years – the eight hour battle, sick and annual leave, work health and safety laws have all been won by dedicated unionists – this action by IEU members shows that there is still more work to be done to guarantee a fair and equal society for workers.