Free

Blayney Library: Mark Filmer Three Steel Teeth

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time

Location

Location

Blayney Library

48 Adelaide Street

Blayney, NSW 2799

Australia

View Map

Event description
Discover the history of the wide comb shearing dispute with local author Mark Filmer.

About this Event

Former local journalist Mark Filmer has documented the history of the wide comb shearing dispute in his book Three Steel Teeth Wide Comb Shears and Woolshed Wars. The dispute lasted about four years and was one of Australia’s most bitter, violent and protracted industrial disputes.

The issue in dispute was the width of the combs shearers used to shear sheep. Since the 1920s, there had been a width restriction of 64 mm, but in the early 1980s a small group of shearers started using wider combs (typically 86 mm with three extra teeth) because they found them easier to use and more productive. This was significant because shearers were paid on the basis of how many sheep they shore, not how many hours they worked. It was also significant that wide combs were introduced into Australia by New Zealand shearers.

Central West residents may not realise the campaign to introduce wide combs was led by Robert White (1944-1986), a shearing contractor from Mandurama, near Blayney. White’s advocacy for wide combs cost him dearly—he and his shearing teams were attacked and bashed several times by union thugs. Occasionally White had to sleep in police lock-ups for his own safety.

The strike ended when union shearers realised the national flock was being shorn without them. By staying on strike they would lose valuable contracts. When they returned to work, many union shearers started using wide combs and quickly realised they were far superior to the standard (narrow) gauge combs they had favoured.

Share with friends

Date and Time

Location

Blayney Library

48 Adelaide Street

Blayney, NSW 2799

Australia

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved