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A.F.U.L.E.   History


The first union of locomotive enginemen was formed in Melbourne in 1861 when twenty drivers banded together to form the "Locomotive Enginedrivers Association of Victoria". The union so established was expanded in 1872 to include Firemen and later Cleaners. In 1902 the name was changed to the "Locomotive Enginedrivers, Firemen and Cleaners’ Association of Victoria".

Similar Associations were formed in other Colonies (or Australian States of the time) and New Zealand. The Victorian Association never went out of existence from the time it was formed and thus became the oldest continuing railway union in the world.

A milestone was created in 1900 when representatives of the Locomen’s Associations met and formed "The Federated Locomotive Enginemen’s Association of Australasia". This body met annually and at its 1919 meeting held in Adelaide, made the decision to form a single National Union. At the 1920 meeting held in Brisbane, the New South Wales Association delegate Ben Chifley moved the resolution to form "The Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen". {Ben Chifley later went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia}.

The National Union was registered in 1921 and became the first union consisting of State instrumentality employees to be registered as a Federal Union. It was also the first such union to gain a Federal Award, this was in 1925.

During 1923 negotiations were conducted with the Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Union, who covered enginemen in the Commonwealth Railways. An agreement to transfer their membership to the AFULE was reached. This was done though meetings of enginemen at every depot carrying resolutions favouring the transfer of membership, hence the Commonwealth Division was formed, making a total of seven Divisions.

In December 1943, after the Northern Australian Workers Union ceased to function, locomotive enginemen in the Territory were signed up by the AFULE and a Northern Territory Division was created, making the total of eight Divisions. After the end of World War 2, there was a big drop in membership in the Northern Territory and by the end of 1946 that Section was absorbed absorbed into the Commonwealth Division.

In 1992 and 1993 ballots were conducted throughout the Australian Divisions to form an amalgamation with other Transport Unions. The members of the Queensland Division rejected the proposed amalgamation and now Queensland is the only State in Australia where the Oldest Railway Union in the World represents traincrew.


It is not generally known that the name of this Union has been changed three times since it was first registered in 1921. In October 1926 the name was changed and registered as "Australian Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers". There was an appeal against the name change by a number of organisations representing engineers associations and the Victorian Railway Commissioners. This was upheld some five months after the new name was registered, and the union returned to its former name. In 1928 there was a small change when the word "The" was dropped and the name "Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen" was adopted. On 4 December 1997 the word Enginemen was changed to Employees in recognition that the true composition of the Union included female members.


The Union structure consists of the State President, State Secretary, State Vice President and seven Divisional Councillors.

The State President and State Secretary represent members from the State Office of the Union in Brisbane whilst the Divisional Councillors are responsible for the affairs of their Division which covers the whole Rail network throughout Queensland.

Branches are established in all depots where there are Traincrew Employees. The daily running of the Branches is the responsibility of the Branch Committees.

The policymaking body of the Union is called the Divisional Council, which comprises of the State President, Vice President, Secretary and Divisional Councillors. Divisional Council Meetings are held tri-monthly at the State Office of the Union. It is the responsibility of the Council to see that all policy reflects the wishes of the majority of members.

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About This Web Site

This web site is monitored and updated frequently to distribute information quickly and efficiently to the members of the A.F.U.L.E. Queensland and anyone else who may be interested. With this in mind any constructive ideas on the contents of this site would be appreciated.

Please send any thoughts you may have on this site to Charmaine Ryan via email to "statesecretary@afule.org.au" by clicking here.

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