People’s History of Australia is a podcast and blog looking at Australian history from the perspective of ordinary people fighting together for a better life.
Episode 6 - The 1969 Clarrie O'Shea general strike
In May 1969, Clarrie O’Shea, the secretary of the Victorian branch of the tram workers’ union, was jailed for refusing to pay fines his union had been hit with.
Within days, over 1,000,000 workers across Australia had gone on strike, O'Shea was released from prison, and the repressive 'Penal Powers' laws he was jailed under, which made strikes illegal, had been rendered dead. Strike rates exploded across Australia, wages skyrocketed, and workers made gains which we still enjoy today.
In this episode we chat with Katie Wood, a union delegate and archivist at the University of Melbourne, about the 1969 general strike and what it means for us today.
Episode 5 - The hidden history of Australia in World War I
Few periods of Australian history are as heavily mythologised as World War I. From school textbooks to Anzac Day ceremonies, we're told that Australia was born as a nation on the shores of Gallipoli and that the country united as one behind our gallant diggers, who gave their lives to defend our freedom, our democracy, and our way of life. In this episode we explode these myths, and talk about how Australia was ripped apart by World War I - tens of thousands of Australian died in the trenches of Europe, inflation and unemployment devastated working class living standards, opposition and anti-war organising was ruthlessly criminalised and suppressed, and workers fought back by conducting what was probably the largest strike wave in Australian history.
Episode 4 - The life and times of Nick Origlass, the Red Mayor of Leichhardt
In 1971, a Trotskyist revolutionary was elected as the mayor of Leichhardt Municipal Council in Sydney - one of the most unusual developments in Australian political history. This Trotskyist revolutionary was Nick Origlass, who over the course of his life fought the fascist New Guard in the streets of Kings Cross, led thousands of Balmain ironworkers on strike against their own union's policy of sacrificing wages and conditions during World War Two, and then attempted to turn Leichhardt Council into a directly democratic campaigning body that pioneered environmental activism in the 1960s and 1970s. In today's episode, we cover Nick's remarkable life and activism
Episode 3 - Racists go home! Protesting the 1971 Springbok tour of Australia
In this episode, we cover the spectacular wave of protests against the 1971 sporting tour of Australia by the white supremacist Springbok rugby union team. Tens of thousands took to the streets and directly disrupted Springbok matches, while thousands of unionists made the tour almost impossible by refusing to staff flights that carried the Springbok, work in hotels that allowed them to stay, or supply restaurants that served them.
Episode 2 - The Unemployed Workers' Movement in 1930s Sydney
In 1929, the world plunged into the most catastrophic economic crisis in modern history – the Great Depression. With unemployment in Australia standing at over 33% of the workforce by the early 1930s, we look at how unemployed workers across Sydney organised on a massive scale and fought, in the face of vicious police and government repression, for the right of all people to have access to housing, food and the necessities of life irrespective of whether they could afford them or not.
Episode 1 - The Brunswick Kortex sweatshop strike, 1981
In this episode, we cover the brilliant story of 300 migrant women who went on strike against brutal sweatshop conditions in their textile factory in Brunswick, Melbourne, in 1981. None of the women had ever been on strike before, and few spoke English fluently. And yet over the next eight days, they defied violence and intimidation from their employer, the police, private security guards and the right-wing officials of their own union to win their strike and gain large pay increases and respect at work.
Informative and approachable
I would love more podcasts like this! Australian history told by Australians. Great work! And very interesting.