My Union Right or Wrong.
A history of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union 1900-1932
By Issy Wyner
(a) The preamble of the I.W.W. as published in 1908 was briefer than that shown in the rule book of the Workers' Industrial Union of Australia, as printed in 1918, although the sentiments were similar. The 1918 rule book opens with the preamble: "Adopted at Trades Union Congress, Sydney, August 6, 1918". However, the earlier version, referred to in the Painters and Dockers discussions on the subject, read as follows:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace as long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until all the toilers come together on the political, as well as on the industrial field, and take and hold that which they produce by their labor through an economic organisation of the working class, without affiliation with any political party.
The rapid gathering of wealth and the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands make trades unions unable to cope with the every-growing power of the employing class, because the trade unions foster a state of things which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, therefore helping to defeat one another in wage wars. The trades unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the workingclass have interests in common with their employers.
These sad conditions can be changed and the interests of the workingclass upheld only by an organisation formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry or in all industries, if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Therefore, without endorsing or desiring endorsement of any political party, we unite under the following constitution.
[The Painters and Dockers translated "an injury to one is an injury to all" into "Touch one, touch all" which continued to appear on its banner throughout its existence.]
Frank Cain in his work, The Wobblies at War, notes
The greatest boost for the IWW, and the one indicating its most ready acceptance by parts of the labour movement, was the adoption of the IWW preamble at a combined meeting of all of Australia's socialist bodies held in Melbourne in mid-June 1907 to arrange for their merger into one national body..... the resolution was adopted to the effect that 'this Conference endorse the preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World as adopted at the Chicago Convention of July (sic) 1905, as thebasis of the industrial organisation of the Australian working class.'
[It is interesting to note that the One Big Union concept had been applied somewhat in the huge amalgamation policies of the Hawke-Kelty-Keating policies and their "Accords", which are now being found to react unfavourably against union organisation and workers' best interests. "Bigger is Better" has been proved an outrageous fraud for the worker and has seen the destruction of such important small unions as the Painters and Dockers Union. The huge bureaucracies created by amalgamations hasmade them more and more remote from the rank-and-file.]
(b) re Tom Barker and the I.W.W. --- In The Wobblies at War, Frank Cain writes of Barker as becoming a member of the IWW in December 1912, at the age of 29, and an organiser for the IWW in the following year. After a stint in a New Zealand gaol for sedition, he came to Sydney in 1914 and became Editor of the IWW paper, Direct Action, in September of that year. Cain notes that Baker was anti-political regarding all political parties, but particularly, the SocialistParties, as "ballot-box revolutionists". His career extended to other countries when he was deported to Chile after serving six months for being a member of the IWW after it was declared to be illegal. A highlight of his career in Australia was his anti-war stance by printing his own recruitment posters in July 1915 for which he was fined $100 and which read
The fine and costs were remitted by the Government. However, in the following year, 1916, the gaol sentence which produced the Union's call for Barker's release concerned an article in Direct Action, together with a cartoon, dealing with the Hughes Federal Labor Government seeking to raise a loan of $20,000,000, to which Barker, as Editor, remarked
Prime Minister Hughes has offered another 50,000 men as fresh sacrifice to the modern Moloch. Politicians and their masters have always been generous with other people's lives.
The cartoon, as Frank Cain describes it depicts Fat, the capitalist, enjoying the investment profit from the blood-money of war.
Barker was prosecuted on 29th March 1916 under the War Precautions Act, convicted and fined $200 or twelve months' hard labour. After a failed appeal, he took the gaol option. All this information is from Frank Cain's book.
(c) The IWW Club: Frank Cain, inThe Wobblies at War, wrote about the IWW Club in Sydney,
Early in 1916 one of the Club's leading officials, Louis Klausen, was prosecuted for making statements prejudicial to recruitment. He appealed against the prosecution, but he lost and served a jail sentence. This sentence coincided with that imposed on Tom Barker for publishing Sid Nicholl's cartoon in Direct Action showing how the war-bond investor made large gains from the death and destruction of war.......Klausen was released earlier than expected in September 1916 as a resultof the intervention of Hugh Mahon, acting as Attorney-General while Hughes was in Britain ..... The Broken Hill Miners' Association instructed its delegate to the N.S.W. Labour Congress to have Congress move for the immediate release of Klausen and Barker.
(d) Twelve members of the I.W.W. (most of them in the leadership of the organisation) were arrested on 23rd September 1916, some three months after Hughes had returned to Australia on 30th July, with his hell-bent desire to introduce conscription to cull more fodder for the "war to end all wars". The men were charged with treason under an archaic law known as the Treason Felony Act of 1848. As well, arson was added to the charges as four buildings went up in smoke. It was evident throughoutthe labor movement that Hughes was intent on wiping out the I.W.W. as a prime mover in the anti-conscription drive and this was more obvious with Hughes' passing of the Unlawful Associations Act soon after the twelve were arrested.
The judgment on the twelve brought sentences from Mr. Justice Pains of fifteen years to Hilton, Beatty, Fagin, Grant, Teen, Glynn and McPherson; of ten years to Moore, Besant, Larkin and Reeve; and five years to King. Grant remarked after his sentence was passed: "Fifteen years for fifteen words". The words, which were quoted in his trial were: "For every day that Tom Barker is in gaol it will cost the capitalist class £10,000".
The twelve remained in gaol until the Storey Labor Government was elected on 20th March, 1920 and appointed Judge N.K.Ewing to inquire into the trial and sentencing. The Judge found that Grant, Beattie, Larkin and Glynn may have been involved in conspiracy of a seditious nature, but recommended that they be released. Six of the men, the Judge found, were not "justly or rightly" convicted of sedition: Teen, Hamilton, McPherson, Moore, Besant and Fagin. King was considered rightly convicted ofsedition, but recommended for immediate release. Reeve was found to have been rightly convicted of arson. The Judge also rejected any suggestion that the men had been framed!
The Storey Government accepted Ewing’s report and ordered the release of ten of the men in August 1920. King and Reeve were not released immediately. The Evening News, of 25/11/1925, reported: "Teen and McPherson have just opened a boot repair shop in Goulburn Street, Sydney. Hamilton, Besant and Beatty have talent as fishermen. Moore in the pastoral industry. Others of the released are in Queensland."
On a number of occasions the writer met Charlie Reeves during the mid-thirties when he ran a book shop in George Street and later in Broadway where he lived quietly alone with his two Great Dane dogs. He was a colourful character in many ways and his Sunday speeches in the Sydney Domain (which the writer heard from time to time) were classical mob oratory. On the stump, he would point towards the St. Marys Church and declaim against "the opium factory" or "the chloroform factory".
But, for sheer magnetism on the "stump", none could hold a candle to Donald Grant, with his gentle Scottish burr, his wit and his ability to spar with hecklers; he was outstanding. The writer witnessed, on a Sunday afternoon, from the moment he mounted the platform in the Sydney Domain, crowds left other speakers, including that inveterate "stump orator", Stan Moran, and seemed drawn to Grant’s site. Later, the "Wobbly" became a Labor Senator. (see also re Grant in Appendix 8(7).)
Photo of the IWW Twelve
(e) The Tottenham Murder: On 26th September, 1916, a police constable was shot in the back while on duty in the police office in Tottenham. Three men were arrested for the murder, one of them an Australian-born with a German name, Frank Franz. The other two were the Kennedy brothers, Roland and Herbert. The prosecution made every effort to connect this murder with the twelve I.W.W. men who were being arraigned on charges of treason, arson, etc. Their trial, coming in the midst of the I.W.W.case and the ruthless drive to have the twelve gaoled for long terms, made for a poor expectation for the three while, at the same time, making a harvest of outrageous evidence and propaganda against the twelve. The inquest on 9th October, 1916, was held one day before the case against the twelve I.W.W. men began. The eventual judgment exonerated Herbert Kennedy but sentenced the other two to death by hanging.
The Tottenham Tragedy
(f) Paul Freeman was a member of the Australian Socialist Party and of the IWW. In The Wobblies at War, Frank Cain states that Freeman
had given lectures in economics at the Broken Hill Local but escaped the net (police rounding up Wobblies for deportation) which collected many Wobblies there and had established a small copper mine in the Cloncurry district in Queensland by 1918. His organising of the wage miners on the IWW lines and his statements against recruitment ('any man who put on a uniform to fight is lower than a dog') brought him to the attention of the police and the military. He claimed to be anAmerican and the government decided to deport him in November 1918. Although the war had ceased, the regulations governing such matters as deporting aliens continued and indeed remained in place until November 1920....He was arrested and deported from Sydney on 29 January 1919 but was refused admission by the American officials at San Francisco and returned to Australia on 10 March 1919. The army officers refused to allow him to land in Sydney and he was sent to America again. Once more theAmericans refused his landing and he returned to Sydney. The army sought to keep him on the same ship so he would sail for America for a third time, but he staged a hunger strike and the labour movement demanded that he be put on trial if he had done wrong. The army switched tactics and interned Freeman as a German citizen. After being examined by magistrates he was ordered to be deported to Germany, but a Royal Commission into the release of internees did not uphold the deportation. Freemanremained in Australia and helped to establish the Australian Communist Party, travelling to Moscow in those early days to seek Comintern recognition.
In Solidarity Forever! Bertha Walker stated
It was alleged that he had said: "Anyone going to war was lower than a dog", and that he was connected with the IWW....
The ship was back in Sydney when on 28th May, Freeman began a hunger strike. By June 1st he had been 5 days without food and a Dr. Clark issued a statement that he might die at any time, his tongue was swollen and he could hardly speak. 3 military men stood watch. In the meantime Sydney was aroused. 10,000 people headed by a brass band marched to Darling Harbour where the ship was berthed.
Percy Brookfield, the heroic member of Parliament from Broken Hill, who was to meet a martyr's death himself, addressed the crowd and threatened a Wharf Labourer's strike and that he would pull the American sailors out.... The Lord Mayor convened a meeting against his further detention, and the Town hall was packed out. 5000 people marched down George Street to Circular Quay making no secret of their intention to board the ship. The police laid into them with batons. The Wharfies came outon strike and the Firemen and seamen on the ship said they would not man it unless Freeman was taken ashore
On June 4th the Argus reported "Hunger Strike Succeeds" and Freeman was taken off the ship to the Garrison Hospital at Victoria Barracks pending an enquiry......On October 10th Freeman was taken from Holdsworthy Barracks and put aboard the "Valencia" and deported to Germany with 500 Germans who cheered him as he came aboard.
Paul Freeman, Killed at Kursk, July 1921