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New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation (1870s - 1974)

Alternative Names
  • New South Wales Branch, Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders' Labourers' Federation (1972 - 1974)


The New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation (NSWBLF) was formed in the 1870s and registered in 1881 as the United Labourers. In 1912 it became the Builders Labourers' Union. In 1926 it joined with labourers' unions in other states to form the Australian Builders' Labourers' Federation (ABLF). By the early 1970s the ABLF had a national membership of around 30,000 and covered all unskilled labourers and certain skilled labourers on building sites: dogmen, riggers, scaffolders, powder monkeys, hoist drivers and steel fixers. Between 1970 and 1974 the NSWBLF was strongly influenced by New Left ideology. Under the leadership of Jack Mundey, Joe Owens and Bob Pringle, it imposed green bans that prevented much destruction of environment and heritage in Sydney and NSW. The Melbourne-based ABLF became hostile to green bans and, funded by employer groups, intervened against the NSWBLF, resulting in its deregistration late in 1974. The ABLF was itself deregistered in 1986.

See: Meredith Burgmann, 'A new concept of unionism: the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation, 1970-1974'

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  • Owens, Joe; Pringle, Bob; and Mundey, Jack, Owens, Mundy, Pringle Cleared, Joe Owens, Bob Pringle and Jack Mundey, Sydney, 1975c, 1 pp. PDF Details


  • Australian Building and Construction Employees Union and Australian Builders Labourers' Federation NSW Branch, Why Green Bans?, 1973, 4 pp. PDF Details

Verity Burgmann