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United we stand, Divided we fall.
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The Barrier Industrial Council was formed between 1923 and 1924 to coordinate the local unions in their struggle, This was previously conducted by the Workers' Industrial Union of Australia (for miners) and other unions affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council.
Since its inception the Barrier Industrial Council has remained the peak union body in Broken Hill and a big player in the city's affairs. Once the most powerful single body in Broken Hill, the Barrier Industrial Council is an organisation that set the city apart from the rest of the nation.
It was born in the aftermath of perhaps the longest strike in the harshest conditions in Australian history. When Paddy O'Neil took office as the first President, the Barrier Industrial Council was probably seen as no more than an instrument for administering the different trade unions. But it also developed into the body that was the effective lawmaking authority in the city.
The laws it made reflected the needs of the citizens. The State's lawmakers, many days' travel away in Sydney, were probably glad to the leave the governing of what had seemed ungovernable to Paddy.
So long as the mines stayed open and kept making their rich contributions to the State coffers, nobody was too concerned about the rules and regulations in this outback treasure trove.

Unionism has a long and distinguished history in the city of Broken Hill. As long ago as 1890 virtually every worker on the line of lode belonged to a union - either to one of several small unions or to the giant Amalgamated Miners' Association which was at the time one of the most powerful unions of Australia. The union's original office (the AMA Rooms) still stands and can be found down the street next to the fire station.
In the early days, there was little unity in the union movement. There was much conflict and rivalry. There was also violence and disruption caused by non-unionists (known as "scabs") trying to take work on the mines by accepting poorer pay and working conditions.
It was not until 1916 that the first attempts at unification took place with the formation of the Broken Hill Trades and Labour Council. But it could not really speak on behalf of all the workers because neither the miners nor the tradesmen's unions were always affiliated with it in the early days.

The tradesmen's unions had a council of their own called the Iron Trades Council. The Amalgamated Miner's Association was content to be affiliated with the Australian Coal and Shoal Employees' Federation.
In 1921 however, the miner's union changed its name to the Workers' Industrial Union of Australia and in 1923 it joined the Trades and Labor Council.

In 1924 the Council changed its name to the Barrier Industrial and Political Council but in December 1924 the word 'Political' was dropped and the present name Barrier Industrial Council first appeared.
During 1925 the tradesmen's unions were all re-affiliated and the BIC was established much as it is today.
The Barrier Industrial Council has seen much change. Contrary to misconceptions spuiked by the wilfully ignorant, the BIC has accepted change in order to survive the perils of modernisation, technological change, restructuring, globalisation, and other challenges testing the mettle of this unique organisation.

Attacks upon the BIC have caused it and its constituents to regroup and reinvent itself. What has not changed is its ideology and objectives; that is, the protection and improvement of all aspects of workers' lives, including their social and family life.
The BIC is not and has never been a machine. It has always been made up of workers doing what the majority of union members needed, wanted or asked them to do.
"United We Stand - Divided We Fall"

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