History of the QCU

The QCU is an evolving organisation. It meets the demands and needs of its affiliate members and it represents the interests of workers. To recognise its evolution, and to ensure it continues to grow, it is important to be aware of its history.

The first steps toward forming a 'labour council' in Queensland was a notice in the then Brisbane Courier of 23 May 1885.

The first meeting of interested union Secretaries was not held until 18 August with the formation officially occurring on1 September.

Within four years the Labour Council was disbanded to make way for the Australian Labour Federation (ALF). The ALF was more centralised than its predecessor. Its inaugural meeting was held on 11 June 1889. The ALF was formed on the eve of a range of industrial disputes, amongst them the printers industry wide strike of 1889, and the shearers and maritime workers strikes of the 1890s. The ALF survived during this period but with fewer affiliates.

By 1903, the ALF was operating alongside a newly formed Labour Council. This time the Labour Council survived until 1911 with the unions that were affiliated with the Council, transferring affiliation to the ALF. However by January 1914 the ALF found itself devoid of affiliates and was dissolved.

By mid-1914 the Brisbane Industrial Council was formed to address the vacuum left by the ALF. The ALF operated in conjunction with two other union organisations, the Eight Hours Union and the Trades Hall Board. By March 1917 attempts to develop a closer unity between these bodies was being explored. It took over twelve months, but inSeptember 1918 a conference of 42 metropolitan unions adopted the Trades Hall amalgamation scheme.

Difficulties continued for the fledgling body, with further negotiations between November 1921 and February 1922. These negotiations culminated in the establishment of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council (TLC) on 12 April 1922. There were 46 unions in attendance at the inaugural meeting. This body continued in name until 1993. At this time it was determined by the affiliated unions that the name of the TLC should be changed to more accurately reflect its role.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions Queensland Branch (ACTUQ) was then formed. It was further renamed the Queensland Council of Unions in 1999 in a positive move to re-establish the identity of the Queensland trade union movement.

(Extracts drawn from 'Central Trade Union organisations in Queensland' - brief notes on their development by 'Joe' Harris - BWIU)

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