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Trade Union entry Australian Workers Union (ii) (1976 - 1988)


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    Chart 22: Trade Unions - Rural Industries. Infrastructure and Manufacturing - Metals and General

Trade Union (Federal)
Reference No


The Australian Workers' Union [AWU] has its origins in the establishment of the Australasian Shearers' Union in Creswick in 1886. Having registered federally in 1905 as the Australian Workers' Union, it initially sought to serve unskilled rural workers such as shearers and general labourers and eventually grew to be politically influential within the Australian Labor Party. Increasing in size as members from deregistered unions such as the South Australian United Laborers' Union, the Australian Carriers' Union and the Australian Gardeners & Nursery Employees' Union were absorbed into the fold, the AWU postured itself as the 'One Big Union' of Australian trade unionism. In 1976 the union was reregistered following an amalgamation with the Wool & Basil Workers' Federation of Australia. The Union was again reregistered in 1988 when it merged with the Undertakers' Assistants & Cemetery Employees' Union. A final amalgamation in 1993 with Federation of Industrial Manufacturing & Engineering Employees brought about the AWU-FIME Amalgamated Union.


 1888 - 1889 Central Queensland Labourers Union
       1886 - 1887 Bourke Shearers Union
       1886 - 1887 Australian Shearers Union
       1886 - 1887 Wagga Shearers Union
       1886 - 1888 Moree Shearers Union
       1886 - 1888 South Australian Shearers Union
       1887 - 1892 Queensland Shearers Union
       1889 - 1892 Queensland Labourers Union
             1883? - 1941 United Laborers Protective Society of New South Wales
             1887 - 1894 Amalgamated Shearers Union of Australasia
             1891 - 1894 General Labourers Union of Australasia
             1892 - 1904 Amalgamated Workers Union of Queensland
             1908 - 1922 Factory Employees Union of Australasia
             1910 - 1913 Amalgamated Workers Association of Queensland
             1912 - 1918 Amalgamated Fellmongers Woolsorters & Woolscourers Union of Australia
             1912 - 1950 Australian Carriers Union
                   1905 - 1976 Australian Workers Union (i)
                   1918 - 1976 Wool & Basil Workers Federation of Australia
                         1976 - 1988 Australian Workers Union (ii)
                               1988 - 1993 Australian Workers Union (iii)
                                     1993 - AWU-FIME Amalgamated Union

Archival resources

Archives Office of Tasmania

  • Personal, Ministerial and Political Papers of Neil L. C. Batt, 1879 - 1978, NS603; Archives Office of Tasmania. Details

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Papers of Bob Pringle, 1972-1990, 1972 - 1990, MS 7669; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • Barry Egan interviewed by Richard Raxworthy in the Labor Council of New South Wales oral history project, 1988, ORAL TRC 1948/37; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

The Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU Archives Program

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Australian Workers' Union, Victorian/Riverina Branch - Records, 1965 - 1990, 1993.0042; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources


  • Hearn, Mark and Knowles, Harry, One Big Union: A History of the Australian Workers' Union 1886-1994, Cambridge University Press, Oakleigh, Victoria, 1996, 377 pp. Details
  • Merritt, John, The Making of the AWU, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1986, 432 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Alcorta, F.A., 'The Origins of Trade Unionism in the Northern Territory', Labour History, vol. 43, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Sydney, 1982, pp. 23-35. Details
  • Hearn, M., 'Mates and Strangers: The Ethos of the Australian Workers Union', Australian Labour History Reconsidered, Australian Humanities Press, Adelaide, 1999, pp. 18-37. Details
  • Hope, Deborah, 'AWU: 100 Turbulent Years at the Barricades', The Bulletin, vol. 11, 1986, pp. 60-66. Details

Online Resources

  • 'Chart 22: Trade Unions - Rural Industries. Infrastructure and Manufacturing - Metals and General', in Parties to the Award, 2002, Details
  • Hearn, Mark, AWU History, Australian Workers Union, New South Wales Branch. Details

Digital resources

Chart 22: Trade Unions - Rural Industries. Infrastructure and Manufacturing - Metals and General


Bruce A. Smith