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13 March - Substitute labour

On 13 March, some Melbourne agricultural implement factories resumed work with reduced staff numbers. At the Sunshine Harvester Works, owner HV McKay sourced free (non-union) labour from all over Australia and called on his office staff to assist on the factory floor, undertaking tasks like unloading coal.

As the strike wore on, a number of unionists also returned to work. Many unionised workers were dedicated to the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Union’s objective, but some had stopped work to avoid being harassed by fellow unionists. Unionists who went back to work before the strike had ended were labelled blacklegs or scabs. Even after the strike had ended, these names remained.

Office staff unloading coal for the furnaces from a railway wagon during the strike
Office staff unloading coal for the furnaces from a railway wagon during the strike
Museum Victoria
1907 cartoon titled An Object Lesson in Torture
MelbournePunch, 27 April 1907, p. 607
National Library of Australia
AN OBJECT LESSON IN TORTURE.
(Inspired by some recent affectionate reflections on free labourers by strike leaders.)

STRIKE ORATOR:— "Here we have a scab or blackleg. Observe me closely while I illustrate the most suitable Christian and civilised treatment for all persons of this stamp."

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