George Britten

Interviewed by
Danielle Miller and Louise Ryan
Jan 17 2013
George Britten
Time Summary Keywords

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.

England, unions

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.

union amalgamation

George Britten discusses the two legal identities of the Plumbers Union, pertaining to federal and state levels.

Plumbers Union

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

Interview ends