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Resurrecting the Sunshine Harvester Works: Representing and Reinterpreting the Experience of Industrial Work in Twentieth-Century Australia

Charles Fahey, John Lack and Liza Dale-Hallett
Labour History
No. 85 (Nov., 2003), pp. 9-28
DOI: 10.2307/27515925
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27515925
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Resurrecting the Sunshine Harvester Works: Representing and Reinterpreting the Experience of Industrial Work in Twentieth-Century Australia
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Abstract

The Sunshine Harvester Works, occupying the same site from 1906 until 1987, was unquestionably one of the more significant workplaces in the history of industrial relations in twentieth-century Australia. Here Justice H.B. Higgins formed his judgement in the famous Harvester case of 1907; here H.V. McKay and his successors, opponents of unionism and collective bargaining, deskilled the workforce, introduced piecework and time and motion regimens, and pioneered mass production methods. However, when manufacturing ceased in the late 1980s, the Sunshine Harvester Works was stripped of its machinery; in the 1990s the buildings were replaced by a welfare office, a shopping centre and a cinema complex. How was it that the workplace significance of Sunshine came to be so completely disregarded? In the absence of the physical fabric of the Harvester Works, what can be recovered of the work experience? This article suggests that it is possible, using the outstanding documentary collections in the university of Melbourne Archives and at Museum Victoria, and employing the latest technologies, to re-present the work experience at Sunshine.

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