Jack McCullough : workers' representative on the Arbitration Court (1985)
AuthorsNolan, Melanieshow all
This biography of Jack McCullough is also the chronicle of the Canterbury Trades and Labour Council coterie he helped to organize at the turn of the century. This group of class conscious unionists attempted to persuade the nascent trade union movement to adopt their socialist objectives. This thesis examines the opposition that McCullough's coterie faced. It experienced difficulty, first, in distinguishing itself from an 'advanced' Liberal establishment in Christchurch which assiduously cultivated its working class power base. Organized Labour in Christchurch divided into Lib-Lab and Independent Labour factions. The Independent Labour unionists' attempt to use the arbitration system to rebuild class conscious unions was also vigorously opposed locally by a new managerial elite which attempted to control relations in the workplace and who had their own expectations of the Arbitration Court. McCullough's coterie's objectives were also challenged from the left by the militant Red Feds. Ultimately, however, McCullough's ideal ran aground. It was the victim not so much of the employers or the Red Feds as of a groundswell of more moderate Labour opinion which found its home in the Labour Party formed in July 1916. McCullough's coterie eventually failed in its attempt to create a democratic socialist revolution in its own lifetime based on either the trade union movement or the Labour Party. McCullough himself was thus left with his role as Workers' Representative on the Arbitration Court. Increasingly, he was to find this role impossible to sustain and resigned. His resignation and his entire career as workers' representative before the Court illustrates the difficulties faced by socialist reformers who chose to attempt to bring about reform from within the apparatus of the capitalist state.