When NSW railway and tramway workers from Eveleigh Railway Workshops and Randwick Tramsheds walked off the job on 2 August 1917, they triggered a strike that became one of Australia’s largest industrial conflicts. The strike came at a tumultuous time in Australia’s history, against the backdrop of World War 1, rising prices and challenging working conditions.
Over the period of the strike it is estimated that across the state around 77,350 workers went on strike. When the strike petered out in mid-September 1917, many employees at Eveleigh, and elsewhere on the NSW rail and tram network never got their jobs back. Those re-hired at the Eveleigh yards found their jobs had been downgraded. Although the nationwide strike lasted just six weeks, its consequences lingered for decades, creating a highly politicised workforce and a generation of politicians, including premiers and prime ministers.
The significance and legacy of the 1917 Great Strike will be explored in a panel discussion co-hosted by the UTS Australian Centre for Public History and the City of Sydney at Carriage works on Saturday 5 August 2017 as part of the Community Day held across the former Eveleigh Railway Workshops in which music, art, heritage, stories, entertainment, food and more will come together to mark this historic event.
Panel: The Great Strike and its Legacies
- Laila Ellmoos (historian, City of Sydney)
- Frances Flanagan (research director, United Voice)
- Tom Nicholson (artist)
- with Anna Clark (historian & Co-Director of the UTS Australian Centre for Public History) as moderator
- Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Everleigh (Sydney)
- Saturday 5 August 2017 at 3pm
The 1917: The Great Strike marks the centenary of this event with an exhibition using large-scale striking images, moving footage, oral history excerpts, music and poetry, alongside commissioned artworks (from Raquel Ormella, Tom Nicholson, Will French, Franck Gohier and Sarah Contos) to tell the story of a movement that started in the old Eveleigh railway workshops.
The 1917 Great Strike Community Day is supported by the City of Sydney, Carriageworks, Unions NSW, Mirvac and UrbanGrowth NSW.