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Punch cartoon

On 16 February 1911, many workers at the Sunshine Harvester Works laid down their tools and went out on strike. Aiming to create a united workforce that could demand better wages and conditions, the strikers called on the works’ owner, HV McKay, to dismiss non-union labour. But McKay vowed that unionists would never control his factory and locked unionised workers out.

The Sunshine Harvester Works was at the time one of the largest factories in Australia and a focus for contest over industrial relations. The strike brought to a head years of dispute over working conditions, the power of trade unions, and the government’s right to dictate how much employers should pay their workers.

Follow the timeline to hear from the participants and follow the events of the 1911 strike.