The union movement in New Zealand 1895-1912

MW cartoonBy Martin Gregory

 

The defeat of the 1890 Maritime Strike, a general strike of transport-related unions, smashed up the first wave of union militancy in these islands. Union membership was knocked back from 63 000 to just 8 000, and the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894 was passed.

 

The arbitration system ended strikes completely. It applied to unions that registered under the Act, and most did, despite the loss of independence to be able to take legal industrial action or even determine their own rules. The unions, which were mostly local craft unions, accepted, even welcomed, the Arbitration Court handing down awards because they were too weak to take the employers on.

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Anzac Day: Against the Carnival of Reaction

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