The Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia

and the 1939-45 War Effort



Neville Lindsay


(c) 1982




Control of the militant Federated Ironworkers Association in 1939 was split between Communist and Labor Party adherents. The Communist Party of Australia was a creature of the Soviet Union, and after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, where the USSR came to a deal with Nazi Germany to split Poland and deliver war supplies to Germany, it used its influence in the FIA to disrupt the war effor, labelling it a 'Capitalist War'.

When Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, a dramatic change occured - the FIA members were urged to support the now 'Patriotic War' against Germany, trying to influence the peak Australian Council of Trade Unions and its other affiliates to support this aim to the detriment of union members. The ongoing unrelenting flogging of FIA members to maintain war production led to alienation from the leadership: dogma had triumphed over responsibility, and self-interest overcame duty to members, as is the case with ideologues in any field of endeavour.

The Balmain Branch carried out a successful revolt which led to the outcome of reestablishment of tradional Labor unionism, with the CPA influence marginalised.