Swanston and Flinders St intersection 1927“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

1861 – The first union of locomotive enginemen was formed when 20 drivers banded together to form the “Locomotive Engine Drivers Association of Victoria.”

1872– The union expanded to include firemen and cleaners.

1900 – Representatives of the Locomen’s Association met and formed. The Federated Locomotive Enginemen’s Association of Australasia.

1902 – The name was changed to. Locomotive Engine Drivers, Firemen and Cleaners Association of Victoria.

1919 – At the annual meeting of the “The Federated Locomotive Enginemen’s Association of Australasia.” A decision was made to form a single national union.

1920 – At the annum meeting of “The Federated Locomotive Enginemen’s Association of Australasia.” A resolution was moved by Ben Chiefly (Who became the prime minister of Australia) to form “The Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.” (AFULE)

1921 – Became the first union of state instrumentality employees to be registered as a federal union.

1923 – Following negotiations with the Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Union, an agreement was reached to transfer enginemen in the commonwealth railways to the AFULE.

1925 – First union to gain a federal award.

1926 – In October the name was changed and registered as “Australian Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.” The union returned to its former name after an appeal against the name change was upheld 5 months later.

1992-1993 – Amalgamation with other transport unions was achieved after ballots were conducted throughout Australian Divisions. Queensland rejected the proposed amalgamation remaining the AFULE. All other states became the “Rail, Tram & Bus Industry Union of Australia.”


The achievements of the early pioneers of the union against overwhelming industrial and political odds made the foundations on which job conditions and living standards were progressively improved. At all times since those early days they strove to create an Australian-wide union culminating in the formation of the Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association and registering as the Australian Federated Union Of Locomotive Enginemen in 1920.

The union has a proud record. Its position in the Trade Union movement in Australia today is recognized as that of a vital, progressive, and strongly united national body, prepared at all times to act not only on behalf of its own members, but in support of the trade union and labour movement in general.