The Great Strike of 1917 - Was Defeat Inevitable?

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Bollard, Robert (2010) The Great Strike of 1917 - Was Defeat Inevitable? Australian Journal of Politics and History, 56 (2). pp. 159-172. ISSN 1467-8497


The Great Strike of 1917 was, arguably, the greatest class confrontation in Australian history. For five weeks, the eastern states of Australia were paralysed by a mass strike, driven from below by a rank and file paying little heed to their reluctant leaders. Strike action involved nearly 100,000 workers and was only defeated by mass scabbing masterminded by conservative state and federal governments. Historians have tended to dismiss the Great Strike as mindless militancy. Central to this negative assessment has been the belief that the strikers could not win because “there was too much coal at grass”. But this may be a wrong assumption to make. A careful investigation of the actual situation with coal stocks in 1917 demonstrates that the strikers came much closer to winning than generally has been accepted.

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Online ISSN: 1467-8497

Item type Article
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2010.01547.x
Official URL
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1606 Political Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2103 Historical Studies
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Historical > SEO Classification > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
Keywords ResPubID21389. Great Strike of 1917, strikes, work disputes, industrial action, class confrontation, coal mines, seaboard, waterfront, railways, New South Wales, Victoria, Australia, Australian
Citations in Scopus 2 - View on Scopus
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