End of nine-week Dalfram Dispute

Today makes the day when a nine-week strike by the Waterside Worker’s in Port Kembla, New South Wales came to an end in 1939. This strike began when workers refused to load a cargo ship (Dalfram) with pig-iron towards the end of 1938. The workers were politically opposed to the cargo being sent to Japan, where they believed the pig iron would be used to further military action against China. It was during this dispute that then Attorney-General and Minister for Industry, Robert Menzies received his nickname, ‘Pig-Iron Bob’, for his firm handling of the issue. Menzies believed that it was not so much a question of whether the workers had a legitimate view on the matter or not, but the fact that such policy decisions should be made by the government. Menzies, who went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia, eventually succeeded in breaking the strike on January 23, which at its peak saw around 7,000 workers unemployed.