1950 During the carpenters dispute, the watersiders had written to the Federation of Labour accusing its leaders of gross betrayal of an affiliated union for not backing the carpenters. They were threatened with expulsion, but ended up walking out first from the 1950 conference with some 50 other delegates. This was the first major split since the unity conference of 1937, but the New Zealand Trade Union Conference, which they set up, fell to bits when the watersiders, who were the main supporters, were dealt to the following year.

1951 Feb In 1949, the National Party had defeated Labour, and had been looking for an excuse to tackle the watersiders. It came when the employers refused to pass on the full wages increase granted by the court. The union imposed an overtime ban and the employers threatened dismissal if it wasn't lifted. The men refused and were dismissed. Thousands of other workers became involved in the strike, in protest against the use of the emergency laws, and the use of troops as strike breakers. The Federation of Labour entered the contest - on the side of the National Government.

The federation saw this as a marvellous opportunity to destroy its rival, the TUC, and to eliminate the communist influences from the union movement. The Federation issued a call for unions to return to work, which some of the striking unions obeyed. The federation approved of the government forming a scab union in Auckland and the employers gave the new union 1500 pounds to get going. The government held all the cards in this dispute, and it was war to the bitter end with its demands growing almost daily, the main ones being that the leadership of the union had to go, the national union had to go, and compulsory arbitration had to be agreed.

This strike was the most extreme example we have ever seen of a government using every force at its disposal to smash the union movement. No media could publish any article which told the workers' side of the story. It was an offence to offer any food, money, or any other assistance to a striker, his wife, or children. Every attempt by the strikers to publicise their case by marches in Auckland or Wellington were broken up violently by the police. Loyalty to their leaders and the traditional spirit of union solidarity kept the dispute alive for 151 days, but on the 10th of July, the National Strike Committee approved an end to the dispute. Seamen and miners were largely able to resume their jobs, but many watersiders found their jobs taken. At the cost of 42 million pounds, and more than a million working days, the government had smashed the militant wing of the unions.

1959 Trade Union’s demand for incorporation of General Wage Order into Awards and Agreements is granted.

1960 IC & A Act Amendment requires unions to keep proper books of accounts and to have them audited at least annually.

1961 Bill to abolish compulsory unionism  changed to "Qualified" and "Unqualified" preference clauses. Labour Department no longer responsible for enforcement of membership provisions.

1965 January second is made a holiday

1968 Court issues nil wage order - mass stop work meetings held throughout the country - protest marches - 15,000 workers out in protest - Federation of Labour and Employers Federation meetings reach agreement - called "unholy alliance". Government under pressure instructs court to rehear the case and to take into consideration increases in postages, telephones etc. Court comes down with decision for 5%, however not unanimous as Judge Blair still refused to agree.

1969 General Wage order Act.

1971 Stabilisation of Remuneration Act imposes limit on wage increases - remuneration authority established, to which all agreements in excess of a certain amount had to be submitted for prior approval.

1972 Equal Pay Act - Abolition of remuneration authority.

1973 Employment Relations Act replaces IC & A Act, the Labour Disputes Investigation Act and the Employment Relations Act 1949. First increment under Equal Pay Act. Economic Stabilisation regulations imposes partial wage freeze - wages tribunal established.   Waitangi day is made a holiday.

1974 Northern Drivers dispute results in Bill Anderson being imprisoned for contempt of Court - Workers protest - stoppages - mass meetings. Wage adjustment regulations introduced.   Third weeks annual leave legislated for by Labour Government.

1975 Compulsory/voluntary unionism rises its head again with the election of the Muldoon-led National Party (1975-1984).

1976 Amendments to Employment Relations Act introduce wide range of penalties - Commerce Act and injunctions for non-industrial stoppages - mass protest meetings held.

1977 Final increment under Equal Pay Act.

Ngati Whatua occupies Bastion Point.   After 506 days, they are forcibly removed.

1978 Several small union awards balloted - all return positive vote on retaining unqualified preference. Unqualified preference clause deleted from Two Clerical Workers Awards by order in council. Widespread unemployment. Clerical Workers vote to retain "Unqualified Preference Clause".

1978-80 Mangere Bridge Lockout.

1980 Government forced to back down after intervening in Kinleith Mill negotiations.

1983 National Government introduced voluntary unionism and youth rates.

1984 Mar 27 Wellington Trades Hall bombed and Ernie Abbott (Trades Hall Caretaker) killed in the blast.   Trades Council Executive was meeting in the building that day to organise an industrial campaign against wage freeze provisions introduced by the Muldoon government. 

1987 Labour Relations Act.

1988-89 Builders Labourers Redundancy and industry allowance campaign.

1989 Federation of Labour and Combined State Unions combine to form the Council of Trade Unions.

Wellington Drivers' Union Amalgamated with Central Branch of NZ Labourers Union.

1990 Charlie Clayton (secretary of NZ Labourers' Union) and Dan Duggan (secretary NZ Workers' Union) began to work out an amalgamation plan.

1990 Pay equity legislation passed by the Labour government and repealed immediately National came into office in 1991.

1991 May 15 Introduction of Employment Contracts Act.

National government cut unemployed and other benefits by up to 25%.  Over $1 billion taken from beneficiaries.

NZ Workers' Union membership voted themselves out of existence and amalgamated with the NZ Labourers' Union, which was renamed the Amalgamated Workers' Union of New Zealand (AWUNZ).   The miners, who had earlier amalgamated with the NZ Workers' Union, and operated as a fourth branch, opted to stay on their own.   Shortly afterwards, when the true financial position of the NZ Workers' Union became evident, the decision was taken to adopt our current structure and to become three autonomous unions (Northern, Central, and Southern) operating nationally under the AWUNZ Federation.

1992 Workers locked-out at Alliance Textiles as the first lock-out under the ECA.   Lock-out continued for several years.

1993 May 1 Trade Union Federation formed by 11 Unions, from manufacturing, transport and construction sectors.

1996 National government announces intention to expand prison labour into producing for the market.   Prisoners paid 92 cents per day.

1997 Business Round Table and Employers' Federation pressure National/New Zealand First coalition government to implement second wave of labour market deregulation, including abolition of labour courts and tribunals and introduction of employers to dismiss at will.

1999 9 years of National government end with the election of a Labour/Alliance Party coalition.

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