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Trade Union entry Australian Clerical Association (1917 - 1924)

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    Chart 6: Trade Unions - Administrative Services and Local Government

Trade Union (Federal)
Reference No


The Australian Clerical Association was originally formed as the Federated Clerks' Union of Australia [FCU] in 1911 by 107 clerical workers in Melbourne. At this time offices were still staffed mainly by male clerks, though women were entering this field in increasing numbers. Wages and working conditions were very poor, with male clerical workers earning less than the basic wage of 48 shillings a week and women entitled to only half the male rate.

In 1912 in Victoria, a female section was established within the FCU to organise the female clerical workforce and campaign for equal pay for women in the industry, led by one of the pioneering women of the Australian Labor movement, Ellen Mulcahy. A federal union was formed by registering the FCU with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and by 1920 there were branches of the union in all states.

Membership grew rapidly, in part due to the recruitment of clerks temporarily employed by government departments during World War 1. In 1917 the FCU became the Australian Clerical Association but reverted back to the title 'Federated Clerks' Union of Australia' in 1924.

Like so many other unions of that era the FCU struck serious difficulties during the Great Depression of the 1930s, however, membership grew again when tally clerks, the traditional backbone of the FCU membership received a federal award in 1937. The award covered permanent and casual tally clerks working for shipping companies in the ports of NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. In 1942 the FCU won a new award for thousands of Commonwealth temporary clerks working in the army, navy and airforce departments. The following year tally clerks received a new federal award covering all states. After World War Two more federal awards were achieved in the oil, airlines and wool industries. By 1950, membership had reached almost 53,500. In 1974 membership reached a peak of 110,000.

In 1993 both the FCU's national and state branches amalgamated with unions covering local government to become part of the Australian Municipal, Administrative, Clerical and Services Union, otherwise known as the Australian Services Union [ASU].


 1911 - 1917 Federated Clerks Union of Australia (i)
       1917 - 1924 Australian Clerical Association
             1924 - 1993 Federated Clerks Union of Australia (ii)
                   1993 - 1994 Australian Municipal Administrative Clerical & Services Union (i)
                         1994 - Australian Municipal Administrative Clerical & Services Union (ii)

Archival resources

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Federated Clerks' Union of Australia. Victorian Branch - Two scrapbooks of newspaper cuttings, 1912 July-1925 May, 1912 - 1925, MS 11495; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Federated Clerks' Union of Australia, National Office - Records, 1911 - 1983, 1985.0065; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources

Online Resources

Digital resources

Chart 6: Trade Unions - Administrative Services and Local Government


Bruce A. Smith