Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

‘Nothing but Rebels’: Union Sisters at the Sydney Rubber Works, 1918-42

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2012), 103, (1), 59–82.

Abstract

Based on primary sources, this article provides an account of the forgotten struggles of women workers at the Sydney Rubber Works in the years from 1918 to 1942. Like almost all female workers of the interwar period, these women received 54 percent of male earnings. Yet they refused to accept their lot as victims of the industrial system and the patriarchy and were lambasted as ‘nothing but rebels’ by the establishment for doing so. In 1939, they struck for seven weeks in protest against the Bedaux system of labour management. In January 1942, they again went on strike, this time demanding equal pay for equal work. Virtually nothing has been written to date about the union or its members, many of whom worked in the suburb of Drummoyne. This study draws on the hitherto unexploited files of the Federated Rubber and Allied Workers Union of Australia (FRAW), along with other archival sources.

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Endnotes

1.‘Outburst by judge against daughters of the people’, Workers’ Weekly(hereafterWW),, Friday 2June1939. Google Scholar

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Author details

Tully, John