Monday, 10 July 2017

The Pilbara: the new book by Bradon Ellem on work and life in the Pilbara mining region in Australia

Bradon Ellem. 2017. The Pilbara: From the Deserts Profits Come. University of Western Australia Publishing.
Bradon Ellem’s history of industrial relations in the Australian iron ore industry – The Pilbara: From the Deserts Profits Come (University of Western Australia Publishing) – was published in the first week of July. The book argues that soon after mining began, the Pilbara mining region excited both hope and dread about workers and their power. ‘From the deserts prophets come’, the poet AD Hope had written years before. And it appeared that the Pilbara might be the site of a novel kind of unionism. It was not to be: the companies fought back, dividing and defeating the unions and remaking the Pilbara. The companies reinvented the Pilbara through workplace control, fly-in-fly-out labour and twelve-hour shifts. Their vision reshaped not just the desert but the cities, not just work in mines and ports but in offices and shops.