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24 February - The Prime Minister offers to mediate

On February 24, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher joined attempts to end the strike. He met first with HV McKay, owner of the Sunshine Harvester Works, to hear the employers’ position and propose a conference bringing employers and union together to negotiate a resolution. McKay took Fisher’s suggestion to the other employers, who agreed to thank Fisher for his efforts but saw no use in a conference. They also refused to consider the union’s core demand, that they employ only unionised labour.

Fisher then met with representatives of the union, who also refused to give way on their demand for a fully unionised workforce. The proposal for a conference was shelved.


Dear Sir

I wish personally to thank you for your kindly intervention in the dispute in our trade and to tell you how much I appreciate the candid way in which you talked over matters affecting the unfortunate strike.

I put the matter to the employers at a full meeting which lasted from 11 am until 1 pm on Saturday. The employers all expressed their appreciation of the spirit in which you made the offer to mediate. The issue is a clear cut one and there is no room for compromise.

The employers arose unanimous in their decision that no extraneous matter be introduced into the dispute bearing in mind all the time that the strike leaders chose this question as the reason for the strike.

The question (whether Non-unionists be permitted to work or not) can only be answered in the negative or the affirmative.

Yours very humbly

HV McKay

Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, 1910
Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, 1910
National Library of Australia
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