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The Trades Hall, home to the Barrier Industrial Council, is a statuesque reminder of the rich history of unionism in Broken Hill. Trade unionism, fuelled by poor working conditions and the isolation of the city, developed as a powerful force in the early years of the mining industry,.
The Amalgamated Miners’Association [AMA] was formed in 1886, adopting the motto ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’. The passion and solidarity of early unionism, reflected in a history of strikes and hardship, reflects the deeper meaning of the AMA motto. The Trades Hall was the focal point for the strikes of 1909 and 1919. The 1919 strike lasted 18 months and led to the 35 hour week for miners and improved health and safety conditions.
The building construction on the Trades Hall began in 1898. The second storey meeting rooms and large hall were added in 1904. The rooms had pressed iron ceilings and other detailing typical of the late Victorian period. When the interior of the building was restored in 1988, the original elaborate detailing was reinstated.
The Barrier Industrial Council was established in 1924 to represent all local unions, making its home at the Trades Hall.
Audio transcript available.