Ghost of the 1964 dispute

Issue 

Ghost of the 1964 dispute

By Jim McIllroy

As the MIM conflict develops, many have recalled comparisons with the great 1964-65 strike, which lasted more than six months.

The Mt Isa strike of 30 years ago split the town, and almost bankrupted MIM. Led by militant unionist Pat Mackie, a member of the Wobblies (the Industrial Workers of the World), the strike was again over pay and conditions, but also involved a conflict with the right-wing state leadership of the AWU.

In the face of threatened government intervention, Mackie declared in January 1965: "We will go to jail in support of our stand, and the wives of the men will go with them if the government goes ahead. There are not enough cells to hold us."

It is this kind of strength which the Mt Isa miners of 1995 are displaying once again. They will need broad solidarity from the Australian labor movement to win this time.

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