- 15 December 1882
The Tailoresses' Association of Melbourne, Australia's first female trade union, was established at a meeting held in Trades Hall on 15 December 1882. At this meeting women met in response to attempts by the Melbourne clothing manufacturer Beith Shiess & Co to reduce piece-rate wages. A strike was called on 15 February 1883 when clothing manufacturers had not responded to the log of claims. As each manufacturer accepted the log, employees resumed work. The strike is generally regarded as instrumental in the establishment of the Shops Commission and the eventual passage of the Factory Act. When the new Factory Act was passed in 1885, the recommendations of the March 1884 Royal Commission regarding outwork were not incorporated and working conditions in the industry were not substantially affected by its operation. In 1906, the Tailoresses' Union amalgamated with the Tailors' Society.
On 15 December 1982 the Honourable Pauline Toner, Victoria's first woman Cabinet Minister, unveiled a plaque to commemorate the centenary of the Tailoresses' Union. The plaque was placed at the entrance to the offices of the Textile Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia (formerly Clothing & Allied Trades Union of Australia) in Leicester Street, Carlton.
Sources used to compile this entry: Anon, 'Centenary of the Tailoresses' Association of Melbourne', Recorder, no. 120, 1983, pp. 9-10; Brooks, Raymond, 'The Melbourne Tailoresses' Strike 1882-1883: An Assessment', Labour History, no. 44, 1983, pp. 27-38.