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Soldiers of the Federation: The Women's Committees of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia

Margo Beasley
Labour History
No. 81 (Nov., 2001), pp. 109-127
DOI: 10.2307/27516806
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27516806
Page Count: 19
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Soldiers of the Federation: The Women's Committees of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia
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Abstract

The Women's Committees of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia (WWF) were active in the 1950s and 1960s across Australia. Originally established to assist in the national waterfront strikes of the 1950s, the Committees developed into a women's welfare organisation carrying out voluntary labour for those in need in their communities, in addition to supporting the union. Relationships between the union and the Committees varied from port to port, offering working class women a path to engagement in public affairs, sometimes on an international scale. This article charts the rise and fall of the Committees which was linked to the decline in the waterfront workforce, the decline of the Communist Party, and the increasing involvement of women in the workforce. It provides a pertinent example of the voluntary labour and activism of working class women in Australia in the post-war period.

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