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Coal and industrial relations: how miners secured workers’ rights

Erik Eklund writes in The Conversation (10.6.16) about some of the history behind the formation of miners’ unions in Western countries, including Australia, and the workers’ rights they helped to win.

‘Coal mining, major industrial disputes, and the coal miner himself, are iconic representations of the industrial age. Demand for coal came from expanding urban centres as a result of the Industrial Revolution, and new coal-fired factories, mills and furnaces.

‘Miners were among the first workers to organise into trade unions from the middle of the 1700s, battling a lack of legal recognition and resistance from the mine owners.

‘By the 19th century, there were numerous attempts to combine and organise what were often local trade unions. By the beginning of the 20th century, lasting national bodies of miners had been formed in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.’

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