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Unions, government and social democracy


John Rainford


The history of union involvement in direct parliamentary representation in Australia begins in 1891. At this point, unions had developed on a much broader basis than the trade associations and benefit societies that first emerged in the late 1820’s and early 1830’s. With 25,000 members the Amalgamated Miners’ Association was a militant union that claimed to have lost only one of the 29 major strikes that they were involved in prior to 1890. The Amalgamated Shearers’ Union, with 22,000 members, claimed even greater success, contending that the 3,180 strikes that they led invariably ended in victory.