Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation

By Meredith Burgmann; Verity Burgmann | Go to book overview

13

GREEN BANS FOREVER?

Green bans forever, green bans forever, Green bans forever in Victoria Street. We sang as we hopped from chimney top to chimney top, Green bans forever in Victoria Street.

This gallant green ban song notwithstanding, the NSWBLF would have been appalled at such a prospect. As requests for green bans snowballed, and the attacks from employers, police, government and media built up, the union found itself in a state of perpetual siege. Although the frenetic activity attracted support from both inside and outside the union, the imposition of green bans clearly had serious drawbacks for it. Mick Tubbs of the CPA observed the pressures on the union: 'often it wasn't so much the leadership itself pushing ideas as people inside and outside pushing them into the next step. The situation developed its own internal dynamics. It was difficult to find a period for consolidation.' Members commented about the problems for the union in its imposition of green bans. Owens remarked: 'There was too much going on but there was nothing we could do about it'.1 Darcy Duggan observed: 'We got a dirty big world moving and it was gaining momentum. We were moving too fast for a small union and we couldn't slacken up because people were coming to us with their problems when no other trade union would help them.' As the strong supporting the weak on the one issue that truly affected everybody--a union protecting society generally from environmental vandalism--the green ban movement was the ultimate way in which the NSWBLF in this period can be seen as a prototype of social-movement unionism.

-276-

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Green Bans, Red Union: Environmental Activism and the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xi
  • Part 1 - People Before Profits 1
  • The World's First Green Bans 3
  • 3 - The Greening of the Union 36
  • Part 2 - A New Concept of Unionism 59
  • 4 - Organisational Principles and Practices 61
  • 5 - Industrial Relations Strategies 77
  • 6 - Civilising the Industry 103
  • 7 - Pioneering Social Movement Unionism 121
  • 8 - Feminism and Machismo: Women as Builders Labourers 146
  • Part 3 - Preventing the Plunder 167
  • Defending the Open Spaces 169
  • 10 - Preserving the Built Environment 194
  • 11 - Saving the National Estate 228
  • 12 - Breaking the Bans, Breaking the Union 248
  • 13 - Green Bans Forever? 276
  • Endnotes 300
  • Sources 324
  • Index 339
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