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17 February - Locked out

On 17 February, HV McKay, owner of the Sunshine Harvester Works, responded to the Agricultural Implement Makers’ Union (AIMU) call to strike by locking workers out of the factory. Nine other agricultural implement manufacturers joined McKay in a lockout.

Not all union members agreed with the strike action and the employers hoped that by preventing these men from working they would pressure the union to stop the strike. If the men couldn’t work, they didn’t get paid.

Photograph of the Sunshine Harvester Works taken about 1907
Sunshine Harvester Works, about 1907
Museum Victoria

Excerpt from the Adelaide Advertiser, 20 February 1911

Excerpt from the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper on 20 February 1911 titled10,000 peopole affected
National Library of Australia

A booming enterprise

Farmer’s son HV McKay became one of several Australian entrepreneurs to develop a stripper harvester during the agricultural boom of the 1880s. McKay patented his first harvester in March 1885 and soon established an office and harvester factory in Ballarat, Victoria. In 1892 his company was forced into liquidation by economic depression, but McKay refused to go under. He improved his harvester design and in 1894 launched the Sunshine Harvester Works and the Sunshine harvester.  

In 1904, McKay purchased a failed implement factory at Braybrook Junction on the outskirts of Melbourne. The site offered room to expand his operations and railway lines to bring in supplies and send out products. By 1907, McKay’s business was consolidated near Melbourne, and Braybrook Junction was renamed Sunshine.

Sunshine Harvester Works employees at Ballarat, 1904
Sunshine Harvester Works employees at Ballarat, 1904
Museum Victoria
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