George Britten reads a prepared statement on his career.
George Britten discusses his motivation for joining the union movement whilst in London.
|England, unions, work experience|
George Britten comments on the role of the Labour Party and trade unions during the Great Depression in England.
|England, Fascists, work experience|
George Britten describes the conditions and circumstances surrounding his early apprenticeship as a plumber in a chemical factory.
|apprenticeships, England, plumber, work experience|
George Britten talks about the influence of his brother in moving to Australia and finding work in Camooweal and Mount Isa.
|Camooweal, Mt Isa|
George Britten discusses how he started working in a hard rock mine in Mount Isa in March 1950 and his initial fears due to the lack of training.
|Mount Isa Mines, workplace safety|
George Britten talks about the unions representing various workers in his workplace in Mount Isa, commenting on how active each of them were.
|Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, AWU, BWIU, Fred Thompson, Kevin Loughlin, Mount Isa Mines, Plumbers Union|
George Britten discusses his initial resistance to joining the Australian Workers Union in Mount Isa.
|AWU, Mount Isa Mines, union positions|
George Britten discusses the difficulties that the Plumbers Union had being active in his workplace due to the presence of the AWU.
|AWU, demarcation disputes, Mount Isa Mines, Plumbers Union, unions|
George Britten describes the relationship between the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union and the Plumbers Union (PU) at his workplace in Mount Isa. He reflects on the difficulties of his role as a PU delegate from 1950 to 1951 and lack of union experience in the region.
|Amalgamated Metal Workers Union, demarcation disputes, Mount Isa Mines, Plumbers Union, union delegate|
George Britten recounts his experiences during the sacking of the lead bonuses in 1952. He discusses the presence of the Communist Party of Australia in Mount Isa.
|Communist Party, Mt Isa|
George Britten discusses Menzies' attempted federal ban on the CPA and the impact in Mount Isa, seen with the local CPA leaflet The Plot.
|Communist Party, Mt Isa, Robert Menzies|
George Britten speaks about the contributers to The Plot, including non-CPA members from various unions and community leaders in Mount Isa. He talks about the isolation and limited radio reception in Mount Isa.
|Communist Party, Mt Isa, unions|
George Britten discusses working with Eddie Holborn in Townsville, and in establishing a Regional Labor Council in Mount Isa.
|Mt Isa, Pat Mackie, Townsville|
George Britten describes moving to Brisbane in 1952, the differences between union activity there and in Mount Isa, and the priorities of the Plumbers Union at the time. He also comments on union figure Alex Macdonald.
|Alex Macdonald, Brisbane, BWIU, Communist Party, Jack Egerton, Mt Isa, Plumbers Union|
George Britten talks about Alex Macdonald and Alan Anderson's work with university students.
|Alan Anderson, Alex Macdonald, universities|
George Britten discusses the uncommon lack of tension between the communists and non-communists within the PU during the 1950s.
|Communism, Communist Party, Plumbers Union|
George Britten reflects on the relatively low level of tension between communists and non communists within the union movement in Brisbane compared to elsewhere in Queensland.
|Alex Macdonald, AMIEU, BFUE, FIA, Trades and Labor Council|
George Britten comments on the impact of the 1957 Queensland Labor Party split on the union movement in Queensland. He talks about his experience with the Building Trades Group.
|AMIEU, BLF, BWIU, Jack Hanson, Plumbers Union, unions|
George Britten recounts the various positions he held in Brisbane, as well as his apprenticeship in England. He talks again about his early union experience in England.
|apprenticeships, Brisbane, England, Queensland Housing Commission, unions|
George Britten describes the changing nature of unionism in the United Kingdom, with the unions beginning to educate members from 1950.
George Britten talks about the areas which he was involved with in Brisbane as a unionist. He comments on how he would nominate himself as a union delegate.
|Brisbane, Plumbers Union, union delegate, workplace safety|
George Britten discusses employer resistance to union delegate demands and workplace injuries stemming from a lack of adequate safety standards.
|Brisbane, Plumbers Union, union delegate, workplace safety|
George Britten speaks about the unfair and unsafe working conditions of fellow workers.
|plumber, workplace safety|
George Britten recounts his personal experience of the 1976 to 1979 Plumbers Union strike calling for the Federal Award to apply in Queensland.
|industrial disputes, Plumbers Union, strikes|
George Britten discusses the Plumbers Union campaign for the 38 hour week in 1982, including the strategies and reasoning behind it.
|Plumbers Union, union campaigns, Waterside Workers Federation, Workers Compensation legislation|
George Britten discusses how after working in 34 jobs for a total of 61 years in the industry he never received Long Service Leave. He comments on the state of Long Service Leave since his retirement.
|Queensland Housing Commission|
George Britten describes his involvement as a union delegate at the 1971 South African Springboks rugby tour at the RNA showgrounds, as well as that of BWIU Hugh Hamilton.
|BWIU, Hugh Hamilton, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Springboks Rugby tour 1971, strikes, union campaigns|
George Britten talks about the declared State of Emergency at the 1971 Springboks tour and his sacking upon his return to work.
|Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Springboks Rugby tour 1971, strikes|
George Britten speaks about his involvement with other street marches in the early 1970s as well as peace organisations. He talks about his educational involvement with university students at Caloundra.
|Brian Laver, BWIU, civil disobedience, Plumbers Union, universities, Vietnam War|
George Britten comments on the declining state of unionism today. He stresses the continued importance of unionism both in the past and today.
|declining union membership, unions|
George Britten considers the trend towards amalgamating unions in order to remain relevant.
George Britten discusses the two legal identities of the Plumbers Union, pertaining to federal and state levels.
George Britten describes the difficulties in organising plumbers within a union as opposed to other trades.
|plumber, union membership|
George Britten talks about his motivation for joining the Communist Party in England in 1943.
|Communist Party, England|
George Britten discusses why he never became a union organiser as well as what he perceives to be his greatest achievement.
|Springboks Rugby tour 1971, Townsville, union positions|
George Britten was a Plumbers Union delegate throughout various workplaces in Mount Isa, Townsville and Brisbane from 1950 until the mid-1980s. Britten worked for a total of 61 years in the industry, spending the last twenty years working for the Queensland Housing Commission.
George Britten was born in 1926 in London, growing up in the industrial suburb of Hillford. Coming from a working class family employed in the chemical manufacturing industry, he began his plumbing apprenticeship at the age of 14 and completed it in 1941. He joined the Plumbers Union as soon as he legally could at age 16 and immediately became active in meetings. Britten followed his brother to Australia in 1949, arriving in Adelaide before making his way to Mount Isa to work in the hard rock mines in 1950 as a plumber. Britten immediately became active in the Plumbers Union, becoming a delegate that year.
In Mount Isa he became politically active, joining the Communist Party of Australia in 1951, though he had previously joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. He contributed to the Communist leaflet The Plot which was particularly active during Robert Menzies' attempted federal ban of the Communist Party in 1952. During his time at Mount Isa he established a Regional Labor Council with other CPA members, and worked with a number of other unions in the area.
As a union delegate Britten was involved throughout many campaigns, including the Plumbers Union strike from 1976 to 1979 calling for the Federal Award act to apply in Queensland (though he expressed a contrary opinion) as well as the 1982 Plumbers Union campaign for the 38 hour week.
He was also active throughout the 1971 South African Springboks tour at the RNA showgrounds during the State of Emergency induced by Joh Bjelke-Petersen, striking with other unions. After a long career as a union delegate Britten spent 20 years working at the Queensland Housing Commission before retiring in the early 2000s.
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