Taming the concrete jungle, 1973


Pete Thomas

Source: Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Laborers Federation, NSW branch, July 1973
Source: Book, 135pp, July 1973
Transcription, mark-up: Steve Painter

In a modern society, the workers’ movement, in order to play a really meaningful role, must engage in all industrial, political, social and moral struggles affecting the working people as a whole.

More and more workers will become increasingly concerned with the end result of their work. Already a growing number of workers are demanding a greater say, greater control over their working lives, and are insisting that the work performed should be socially beneficial to the community as a whole.

In this context, building workers are beginning to demand of governments, employers and architects that buildings required by the people should have priority over superfluous office buildings that benefit only the get-rich-quick developers, insurance companies and banks.

The left and progressive unions always played an active role in the struggle of the Australian people for a better life. One new dimension which has appeared in the builders labourers’ campaigns has been the intervention in ecology matters, linking up with resident action groups, forward-looking town planners and architects and other citizens to fight to protect our heritage and our environment.

The famous Green Bans, which now number 40 and are holding up so-called “development” worth $3000 million — and all of which bans were imposed at the request of people in action against developers’ rape of our cities — have won widespread public acclaim.

Against this background, the NSW branch executive of the union decided to publish this booklet, in the hope that it might help to show what has been happening in the building and construction industry and might contribute towards stimulating ideas on the role of unionism today.

To do this, the union was glad to have the services of Pete Thomas, who is one of the most capable and highly respected working-class journalists in Australia. We greatly appreciate his work in compiling this booklet on the varied and exciting experiences of recent years.

Bob Pringle (president)
Jack Mundey (secretary)
NSW branch, Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders Laborers Federation, July 1973