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Pilbara Strike (1946 - 1949)



Strike of Aboriginal stock workers in the Pilbara area of Western Australia, where most of the indigenous workers were receiving no cash wages at all. This affected 6,500 square miles of sheep farming country. Aboriginal strikers were seized by police at revolver point and put in chains. The Pilbara strike was supported by 19 unions in Western Australia, seven federal unions and four Trades and Labour Councils. In the east, Bill Onus is involved in organising support for the strikers. The Western Australian branch of the Seamen's Union placed a ban on the transport of wool from stations affected by the strike, winning almost immediate concessions from the pastoralists. A white Communist unionist, Don McLeod, was arrested during the Pilbara strike for 'inciting Aborigines to leave their place of lawful employment'; the Aboriginal strikers marched on the jail and McLeod was freed.