Centenary of the General Strike of 1912

30 January 2012 is the centenary of a general strike in Queensland which began with a Tramways Union dispute about the right to wear union badges and escalated quickly until at its peak up to 25,000 demonstrators and 50,000 supporters were involved.  This was at a time when the total population of Queensland was little over 636,000. 

A General Strike Photograph Album held by the John Oxley Library has compelling images of the strikers and their supporters.

Crowd gathered on a street in Brisbane during the General Strike, 1912.State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0007


Crowd gathered on a street in Brisbane during the General Strike, 1912.
State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0007

Women marching in a strike procession in Brisbane in 1912.State Library of Queensland. Image number 59436


Women marching in a strike procession in Brisbane in 1912.
State Library of Queensland. Image number 59436

Bushmen guarding essential foodstuff in William Street during the General Strikein Brisbane, 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0011


Bushmen guarding essential foodstuff in William Street during the General Strike
in Brisbane, 1912. State Library of Queensland. Image number 10113-0001-0011

Black Friday Baton Charge

2 February 1912 became known as “Black Friday” or “Baton Friday” after mounted police baton charged a crowd of men, women and children and then chased them along George Street, Turbot Street and North Quay.  Many people were seriously injured.

This cartoon by Jim Chase became one of the best known illustrations of “Black Friday”.

Published in The Worker, 10 February 1912, p.12 - image taken fromState Library of Queensland’s microfilm collection


Published in The Worker, 10 February 1912, p.12 - image taken from
State Library of Queensland’s microfilm collection

Further reading:

Unprecedented Scene: police act firmly, determined baton charges” as reported by the conservative Brisbane Courier, 3 February 1912

Black Friday’s Police Riots: what indignant citizens think”   A different viewpoint from The Worker, 17 February 1912

1912 Brisbane General Strike - Wikipedia article 

Centenary of the Tramways Dispute and Brisbane's General Strike 1912

The big strikes, Queensland 1889-1965 (St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1983) p. 117-131

Joan Bruce, Queensland Literature Coordinator - State Library of Queensland

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What an interesting story! I didn't know much about the strike until now. Great bibliography too!Veronika

I knew nothing about this - very interesting. They are compelling images, too. Does the library have further collections relating to strikes? I'm thinking of the industrial action in the early 1980s. Would be fascinating to hear more about the historyof industrial action in QLD.

What an interesting story! I didn’t know much about the strike until now. Great bibliography too!