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16 September 1848 Strike in Burra

 16 September 1848 Strike in Burra

On 16 September 1848 the Adelaide Observer reported there was a strike at the Burra Burra mine. Trouble began over differences in the assaying of the ore mined by tributers (miners who worked for themselves and paid a percentage of their earnings to the owners of the mine). The ore was assayed at Burra and also in Adelaide and the discrepancies between the two prompted the secretary of the SA Mining Association, Henry Ayers, to write to Thomas Burr, superintendent of the mine, informing him that the ‘company could be paying men more for copper than the ore contained’. The directors, on the result of the Adelaide tests, reduced the valuation of miners’ ore and then failed to answer a request for an independent assayer. When the directors visited Burra, sacked Burr and refused to meet a committee of miners to discuss grievances, the men decided to call a strike. A detachment of police was quickly despatched from Adelaide but by the time they arrived a relatively peaceful strike was all but over as the directors agreed to a meeting. The miners must have felt some retribution had been visited upon the directors when, on leaving the Burra Hotel at a cracking pace, the coach overturned depositing them ignominiously in the dusty roadway.

Ian Auhl, The Story of the ‘Monster’ Mine, Investigator Press, 1986, pp. 92-6.

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