Biographical / Historical
Introduction to the Collection
In June 1938 McAra, at a meeting of the Wellington Carpenters Union proposed that a special sub-committee should be set up by the Union to investigate the building industry and the place of the worker within it. (Younger, 1975, p.55) The new Housing Committee had three members, Bill McAra, Wally Jamieson and W.J. Thompson. Secretarial assistance was provided by Jim Moulton the Union’s secretary, whose skills were made available to the committee as required. This arrangement can be seen in the records with the use of the Union’s letter head for the Committee’s correspondence which is usually signed by Moulton on behalf of the Committee.
With the outbreak of war, the introduction of Emergency Regulations and fears over wages and conditions, it was decided to expand the Housing Committee’s terms of reference. Representatives of other related trade unions were invited to join the Committee and many did (see folder 3/1). By November 1939 the committee represented almost all of the building trades in Wellington and its name was changed to the Wellington Building Investigation Committee. (Younger, 1975, p.65).
It was at meetings of this committee in early 1940 that the idea of a united organisation to represent members of the building industry in discussions with the Government and The Federation of Labour was put forward. The idea was agreed upon at the meeting and McAra and Moulton were given the task of drafting a set of rules for the new organisation. These provisional rules were read and accepted at a meeting on 27 March 1940 and the New Zealand Building and Allied Trades Federation was born. McAra was elected Chairman; Peter Butler, Vice Chairman and Jim Moulton Secretary. The members of the existing Building Investigations Committee it was agreed would act as the provisional executive council of the new Federation, however the Building Investigation Committee was not wound up at this time but continued to operate independently in addition to running the Building and Allied Trades Federation until April 1940.