In the 1920s and 30s female labour organisers were confronted by industrial, economic, social and legislative climates endemically hostile to women. In response, collaborative activism between female organisers and construction of a high profile amongst their union memberships became especially critical to industrial organising on behalf of the female worker. These factors were integral then to women’s effective labour activism: I argue that they remain so today. In support of this argument, this paper presents an overview of organising work in the interwar years in New South Wales in certain trade unions. By investigating the gendered employment climate within trade unions it identifies factors influencing the strategies of women organising industrially on behalf of working women and girls. Focusing on the working climate and tactics of female organisers, the paper also highlights the critical role and the craft of the organiser as the face of the union for members, including reference to male organisers, and suggests links between members and their elected hierarchy.
Post-print of: Webb, R 2007, 'Addressing work: industrial women and organising in the interwar years', Hecate, vol. 33, no. 1.