By Bill Ford and David Plowman
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One result of this had been substantial unemployment of union members in some manufacturing industries. Despite protests from the unions, the ACTU had refrained from criticism of the government; as the President put it, having Labor out of office was 'too big a price to pay'. In some other matters, however, this consideration was not weighty enough to prevent unions taking action contrary to the wishes of the government. Communications unions struck in protest against continued French nuclear testing in the Pacific, and the maritime and waterfront unions took action against the governments of Greece and Chile.
These conditions can be changed and the interests of the working class advanced only by an organization so constituted that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries, shall take concerted action when Historical and Theoretical Context 23 deemed necessary, thereby making an injury to one the concern of all. (See Anon. ) The Russian Revolution and the pent-up expectations released by the end of the war strengthened the cause of revolution and socialism. Days not worked through strikes reached record levels as unionists sought a reduction in the standard weekly working hours from 48 to 44.
On issues of health and safety, they were willing to trade off in terms of shorter hours or higher wages. As with structures and aims, so with methods. In the benign phase of small-scale colonial capitalism, unions often found that they could establish arrangements of mutual benefit to themselves and certain employers. The 'nineties demonstrated that there could also be reciprocal advantages in times of depression. The 'fair employer' and the union combined against the 'sweater' who paid low wages and sold the product at a price that undercut rivals.