[Marxism] New Zealand's most significant industrial dispute

Philip Ferguson philipferguson8 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 30 21:07:59 MST 2012

Lasting 151 days - it began in Feb and ended that July - the 1951
waterfront lockout was the most significant industrial dispute in NZ
history.  It came in the context of the early years of the long postwar
economic boom and the intensification of the Cold War, with the Korean War
having begun the year before.  The struggle resulted in the smashing of the
most militant sections of the organised working class and was followed by
almost two decades of class peace.  While the militants were smashed by the
National Party government, National's assault on the wharfies and thier
allies followed a long period in which the first Labour government had
consistently attacked workers' rights and there had been years of conflict
between the wharfies and the Labour regime.

The legendary wharfies leader, Jock Barnes, died a decade ago, thankfully
an unreconstructed militant.

In the early 1990s he did a long interview with Daphna Whitmore, which now
appears on Redline.  Part one is here:
Part two is here:

We've also recently put up a long feature article on the 1951 dispute,
which mainly deals with the lead-up to the dispute rather than events
during the dispute itself.  In particular, there's a big focus on the
struggles between the wharfies and the first Labour government, a
government about which there are still quite widespread illusions on the
left in NZ.
The article Behind the 1951 waterfront dispute is here:


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