11 March 2015

Key events on the NZ waterfront, 1894-1951

1894 Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

1915 Waterside workers vote not to work overtime after 10pm; formation of the New Zealand Waterside Workers' Federation with James (Jim) Roberts as the first national secretary.

1917 Industrial Agreement: waterside workers may take ballot in wet weather to decide whether to continue working; some restrictions placed on weight and constitution of slings.

1922 Industrial Award: basic formula established for waterside workers' wages as unskilled rate plus 25%.

1924 Industrial Award: special clause allowing negotiation over 'specially dirty work'.

1932 Industrial Award: wage cuts in addition to 10% cut imposed by the Arbitration Court in 1931; extension of working hours; prohibition of smokos. However, control over admission to union given to Branch executive.

1935 Election of first Labour Government (1935-49).

1936 Pilot labour bureau scheme in Lyttelton (equalisation of hours of work); Arbitration Court refuses to apply 40-hour week to waterfront; Jack Flood becomes NZWWF president.

1937 Labour bureaus opened in Wellington and Auckland; Marine Department given responsibility to collect accident statistics on waterfront; Industrial Award 1937-38: provision of guaranteed minimum weekly wage.

1940 Waterfront Control Commission appointed to run wharves and makes changes to conditions of work, including cooperative contracting (bonus scheme) and change in pay formula (now 6d above unskilled rate and 1d above skilled rate of pay).

1941 James (Jim) Roberts steps down as NZWWU secretary.

1943 Wellington and Lyttelton vote to end all-night work.

1944 Harold (Jock) Barnes defeats Jack Flood for NZWWU presidency.

1946 Waterfront Control Commission reconstituted as Waterfront Industry Commission with direct union and employer representation.

1947 Labour government initiates discussions with NZWWU about an 'overall contracting system'.

1949 Election of new conservative National government led by Sid Holland.

1950 Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Waterfront Industry established; reported in 1952.

1951 Waterfront lockout/strike, February-July (defeat for waterside workers).

- Source: Anna Green, British Capital, Antipodean Labour: Working the New Zealand Waterfront 1915-1951, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 2001, Appendix B.

See also:
History: Shipowners & the 1951 waterfront lockout, 26 February 2015
History: The break of gauge, 14 January 2014
History: Shipping in Wellington 1850-70, 12 June 2009
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