Industrial conflict in New Zealand, 1951-61
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis represents an Attempt to examine, in a particular historical context, the relationship between the system designed to regulate industrial conflict in New Zealand and the kind of conflict which ensues as a result of the existence of that system. The central event is the waterfront stoppage of 1951 which, over a period of five months, resulted in the loss of more than a million working days to New Zealand industry. A period of strife of the magnitude of the 1951 crisis could have served to perpetuate traditional patterns of conflict. In the event this does not seem to have happened. By over-reaching itself in 1951 the militant section of the industrial labour movement in New Zealand confirmed the attitude of the moderates: that direct action was a dangerous method for redressing grievances and securing concessions. In the decade after 1951 the incidence of stoppages and strikes was much lower than hitherto. The theme of this study is not that a period of conflict was followed by a decade of industrial harmony, but that the nature of industrial conflict itself underwent a significant change. After 1951 conflict between workers and their employers was riot suspended, but it took place largely at a political level, in a way which obscured most of the visible signs of discord. Mr. J. F. Fardell, General Manager of the Christchurch transport Board and Mr. K. McL. Baxter, National Secretary of the New Zealand Federation of Labour assisted this study by kindly providing material not readily accessible. Others, too numerous to mention, helped in various capacities and my thanks is also due to them.