Builders Labourers Federation

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Builders Labourers Federation Logo.jpg
Full name Builders Labourers Federation Queensland
Founded 1910
Affiliation ALP
Key people David Hanna (State Secretary), Kane Pearson (State Assistant Secretary).
Country Australia
Female members of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation march on International Women's Day in Sydney, 1975.

The Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) is an Australian trade union organisation which existed from 1911 until 1972, and from 1976 until 1986, when it was permanently deregistered in various Australian States by the federal Labor government and some state governments of the time.[1] This occurred in the wake of a Royal Commission into corruption by the Union. About the same time, BLF Federal Secretary Norm Gallagher was gaoled for corrupt dealings after receiving bribes from building companies which he used to build a beach house[2]

The Federation still exists in Queensland.[3]

Social and economic justice[edit]

The BLF fought successful campaigns which became known as the green bans against development projects which it viewed as harmful to the built and natural environment of Sydney. These campaigns included blocking plans to redevelop The Rocks area, Kelly's Bush in Hunters Hill and Centennial Park. The Green Bans are now commonly recognised as directly responsible for saving areas of Sydney with substantial heritage value. Victoria Hall in Fremantle, Western Australia was also saved from demolition by a green ban, in 1974.

They also took up other causes, such as Aboriginal rights, anti-war campaigns and support for pensioners. The BLF had a long standing programme on Radio 3CR, 'The Concrete Gang', which is now presented by the CFMEU. One of the original announcers for the BLF was John Cummins.

NSW Branch Intervention[edit]

The Federal Union under Norm Gallagher faced many protests initially when the Federal union intervened in the affairs of the N.S.W. branch of the union in the mid-seventies. Many of the democratic measures installed by the N.S.W. Branch leadership by Jack Mundey, Bob Pringle and Joe Owens and others were scrapped and many of the democratically imposed Green Bans were lifted. Officials of the N.S.W. Branch eventually urged members to join the imposed branch, but were themselves blacklisted from the industry by Federal Union officials. The Federal takeover of the N.S.W. Branch was instrumental in calling off many of the imposed Green Bans and the cancellation of the union's commitment to fighting for permanence in the building industry.[4]

BLF in Queensland[edit]

The BLF currently exists in Queensland as a State registered union (known as the Australian Building Construction Employees and Builders' Labourers' Federation (Queensland Branch) Union of Employees). This branch is also transitionally registered under the Workplace Relations Act 1996. It is also a part of the Construction division of the CFMEU. Whilst the Queensland BLF was a part of the National BLF prior to the de-registration, it was not as radical or militant as the branches in Victoria and New South Wales were perceived to be.

Whilst the BLF is usually associated with the left of the political spectrum, the Queensland BLF has historically been aligned with the right faction of the Australian Labor Party. The Queensland BLF is a member of the Labor Unity faction which is sometimes referred to as the Old Guard. The Labor Unity Faction often votes with the "right" faction (also known as the AWU or Forum faction) at State Labor Conferences.


The BLF slogan is Dare to struggle, Dare to win.

See also[edit]


  • Inside the BLF: a union self-destructs by Brian Boyd, Melbourne, Vic. : Ocean, (1991). ISBN 1-875284-44-3
  • Builders' Labourers' Song Book Published by Widescape International and the BLF, 1975. ISBN 0-86932-010-6

External links[edit]