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Printers and politics: a history of the Australian printing unions, 1850-1950

CollectionsANU Press Titles (1965-1991)
Title: Printers and politics: a history of the Australian printing unions, 1850-1950
Author(s): Hagan, Jim
Date published: 1966
Publisher: Canberra : Australian National University Press
Description: Printing from movable type began in Europe in the fifteenth century, and those who commanded 'the art and mystery of printing' had a special place in society as men of skill, learning, and comfortable means. When the industrial revolution lowered the status of their craft, printers formed their first trade unions in an attempt to preserve or regain established privileges. Some of those who sought work in Australia during the gold rushes formed unions in the 1850s from which present-day unions are descended. This book outlines the struggles of the various Australian printing unions during their first hundred years, through economic depression, war, and technological revolution. Newspaper compositors were Australia's first printing unionists, and one measure of their success is that they remain today the highest-paid of all craftsmen. The author shows the printing unions in the context of the labour movement as a conservative force that relied mainly on arbitration - although one of their few strikes actually earned them a profit. Today they are one of Australia{u2019}s largest and most prosperous unions and one of the largest printing unions in the English-speaking world.


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