Interview With Jack O’Shea

Australian Workers Film Guide


An old miner relates his experiences in mining and some conflicts with the mine owners over scab labour. He relates episodes of how they forced the “scabs” out of the mines and how they had to battle the police, who didn’t mind shooting at them. The miners would tar and feather a few of the scabs they could find. They would even “pull up” rails so the trains bringing the scabs in would not go through. Mounted police would come and chase them away. The police would show no mercy. “Basher gangs” would sometimes be used against the miners instead of the police.  This was over a 2.5% reduction in wages. At one point the miners were locked out for 15 months. Hire and fire conditions were aimed against militant union miners. This way they controlled their opinions, become obedient so as not to rock the boat. There is no dignity in non-unionism. The miner’s union was the most solid back then. Thousands of men were laid off in the past and this was the reason why the unions became poorer. Cheap labour is the mining company’s aim. They have not changed their spots. Solidarity kept the miners together. 

Special Notes/Achievements

The interview appears scripted, as there are repeated takes on certain segments. Panoramic and some establishing shots, mixed with interview. Unedited.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 35 mins

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