My name is Richard Claydon and I am currently working on a PhD in Organization Theory at Macquarie University. Most of the data we are using is from the work redesign programme at the Cokeworks at Port Kembla between 1996-2003. However, the PhD involves considering a wide scope of data in its attempts to contextualise trends and themes in BHP over the years and Newcastle is a vital factor in determining such issues.
In order to add this richness of detail to the study we are looking to investigate BHP management style and management/workforce relations from the original construction of the Newcastle site in 1915 to its closure. Currently, we are specifically concerned with the workforce's relationship with management in the Essington Lewis era but will also be looking to expand this in to a modern context over the course of 2007. The available literature on Lewis is very thin and is heavily biased either towards 'Lewis: The Great Industrialist and eminently fair employer' or Marxist accounts of worker mistreatment by Lewis and his management team.
I was wondering if anyone from this site would be able to shed any light on such issues or point us in the direction of somebody who could. We are not expecting any first hand accounts of Newcastle under Lewis but would love to collect historical family reminiscences if possible. Every story and annecdote, no matter how serious or humourous, would aid us in our attempts to understand the worker management relationship in the Australian steel industry during the 20th Century.
I hope this post will bring back a few memories and be the beginnings of a valuable story resource. I look forward to hearing any and all stories you may have to tell.
Best regards to you all