Civil Disobedience and Unity: Workers Rights and Union Banners

April 02, 2017
Stonemason’s Banner Celebrating the 8 Hour Day Victory (depicting AGNSW, left, and Sydney Uni edifice, right), courtesy Sydney Trades Hall.

Are you looking forward to the Easter and Anzac Day public holidays coming up? Do you know why we celebrate a Labour Day public holiday?

Join me, Jane Raffan, for a program about Unity and, specifically, a potted history of Australia’s union movement 1850-1950 as reflected in trade banners, such as the one seen here celebrating the Stonemason’s victory achieving an 8 hour day in 1856.

You’ll hear interviews with Neale Towart, Heritage Officer for Sydney Trades Hall and Research Librarian for Unions NSW.

We’ll be chatting about the cache of union banners cared for by Trades Hall and their place in the history of the union movement in Australia. That history won us the 8 hr day, the 40 hr week, holiday leave, long service leave and equal pay. And much more.

We’ll be looking at some of the achievements of various unions leading up to the Cold War period and the symbolism in the banners, which have a long history themselves, and which were the subject of an exhibition and publication by Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now the Powerhouse Museum) in 1985, Badges of Honour, Banners of Pride.

Info on Sydney’s historic Trades Hall

More on the history of trade banners:

The program’s music will be an eclectic mix of tracks referencing work and politics: lots of vocals with fabulous protest lyrics.

As always, I look forward to your company.


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