The papers in this collection cover the period 1946 to 1953 and concern industrial relations on the waterfront in the years leading up to the 1951 waterfront dispute, the dispute itself, and the immediate aftermath. The collection includes minutes, correspondence, notes, reports, pamphlets and clippings. In 1946, the New Zealand Waterside Workers Industrial Union of Workers approached the Waterfront Industry Commission seeking better working conditions, including guaranteed minimum pay. Following an unfavourable decision from the Commission the Union assumed a more militant attitude, and there followed a succession of talks between the National Executive of the Union, including Jock Barnes and Toby Hill, and the Prime Minister Peter Fraser, the Minister of Labour Angus McLagan and a number of other cabinet members (see folders 2 and 4).
At this time a number of the more militant unions, including the watersiders, were also becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the policy of the National Executive of the Federation of Labour (FOL), which, under the guidance of its Vice-President, Fintan P. Walsh, supported the government’s post-war stabilization policy. In 1950, with the support of the Communist Party of New Zealand (CPNZ) the militant unions broke with the FOL and formed the Trades Union Congress (TUC). They then tried their arm against the newly- elected Holland administration. The conflict that ensued culminated in the 1951 waterfront dispute (see folders 6,8,9 and 10) during which the militant unions were smashed. The New Zealand Waterside Workers’ Industrial Union of Workers was deregistered and replaced by a number of government supported ‘scab’ unions, while the means of response and even the democratic right of reply were removed by the infamous Emergency Regulations, 1951. It is from this period that the illegal mimeographed information bulletins arise (see folders 10 and 11). In the years after the strike, discrimination against the waterfront workers who had been deregistered was common, and many were prevented from ever working on the waterfront again.