Aboriginal unionists in the 1890s shearers’ strikes: A forgotten history with Jordan Humpreys

In this episode we reveal the forgotten history of Aboriginal unionists in the 1890s shearers' strikes. The participation of Aboriginal workers, including strike camp leaders like Andrew Stuart Stepney, challenges historical accounts that note the racism of the shearers’ unions and subsequently ignore the role that Aboriginal workers played within the shearers’ unions. We discuss the importance of revealing this history and draw out the lessons for unionists and socialists today. 

A quote from an article in the Worker (Brisbane), 16 July 1892, that Roz reads during the episode: 

I've yet to learn, don't you know, that the immortal British Empire or any other speck of country owns by sheer right divine all the land it can get its clutches on. There's no more natural sense in a bleary-eyed officer with gold lace and a taste for rum, sticking a few feet of stick, with a few square inches of painted calico attached, into the ground and saying 'I annex this 'ere country,' than there is in you or me taking a trip across to Europe and going through the same pantomime at Brighton or Monte Carlo. You or I've got exactly the same 'right ' as the gold laced gentleman who appreciates rum. The only thing is that he has a title deed in the shape of a few thousand tons of men of war, with guns enough to blow the unfortunate natives to little small bits if they object. Wonderful justice, isn't it?... The aboriginals had more right to be in Australia than we had, looking at things justly.’


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Hosted by Roz Ward. Produced by Liam Ward. 

Music by Dan Kenny. 

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