Rogernomics and Rupture: Huntly's Response to the Corporatisation of State Coal Mines in 1987.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis captures the memories of the 1987 Huntly mineworkers who were severely impacted by the corporatisation of State Coal Mines. There were just 19 days between the announcement of job-loss numbers and employment notices being sent out. Over half of the workforce was made redundant. For some of the miners, there were opportunities and new challenges, for others it was the end of their working lives. This thesis considers how the redundancies affected the miners, their families, and the wider community.
As a coal town, Huntly is steeped in mining tradition. There was an unwritten social contract between State Coal Mines and the community, which was replaced with a clause advocating social responsibility in the State-Owned Enterprises Act. Miners share a deep sense of camaraderie, reinforced by their dangerous working conditions. Social employment policies meant that generations of a wider family network could be working together in one location. Huntly was placed under enormous strain as a result of the widespread redundancies. A level of social dysfunction, including illiteracy and domestic violence, became apparent in Huntly during this time. Despite the shock, the community rallied around to support the miners, and to explore options for future business and employment in Huntly.
This thesis is based on oral history and examines the response of those who were affected in 1987. Their recollection of the corporatisation process and the effects it had on their community are revealing. Furthermore, this thesis explores the reaction of the community to the redundancies and highlights initiatives that were implemented to mitigate the effects. The miners’ perspective of how corporatisation affected their community, and the challenges Huntly faces to the present day, are also considered.