A Grave Injustice: The Police Strike of 1923

01.12.2012

tags: Victoria, Strike, VicPol, Industrial Relations, Melbourne,

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By Gerry Lefurgy

From the December 2012 issue of the APJ.

In 1923 Victorian Police went on strike, the first and only time this has occurred in any police force in Australia. Police strikes anywhere in the world are extremely rare. The following article explores the political and industrial landscape facing police in Victoria during the 1920s and what drove them to take this extraordinary action.

It was late on the night of 31 October when 24 constables in the Russell Street Police Headquarters walked off the job, their stated grounds being ongoing use of ‘spies’ by the police management. Soon after the strike commenced rioting and looting hit Melbourne and as well as substantial property damage three people were killed. Several thousand volunteer ‘special constables’ were sworn in to restore order. After the strike was over and theMonashRoyal Commission had made its findings the Government increased police pay and improved conditions, including the introduction of a pension scheme.

It is now almost 90 years since the strike, however many readers will be struck by how similar the industrial issues are today: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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