Industrial militancy in New Zealand : the contributing influence of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and its administration, 1894-1908 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Massey University
This thesis will attempt to demonstrate that the legal and administrative evolution of the IC and A Act after 1894, contributed to a developing climate of industrial militancy down to 1908. It will further attempt to argue that the underlying reasons for such a development stemmed from changes in the operational philosophy of the IC and A system, most notably, in a movement away from stress on conciliation toward mandatory acceptance of decisions handed down by the Court of Arbitration, under threat of penalty. This movement toward coercion is explained in terms of a number of institutional and administrative policies. These include: a major change in the law itself, by amendment in 1901, that permitted parties the right to by-pass conciliation and go immediately to arbitration, a tendency toward legalism exhibited by consecutive Presidents of the Arbitration Court, in the period 1903 - 1908, and the emergence of a policy of wage restraint that stemmed from the Arbitration Court's role as a wage fixing agency. The study goes on to examine the way in which the administrative philosophy of Edward Tregear, the Secretary of Labour in the crucial years after the departure of William Pember Reeves, was given free rein in terms of organisational growth and policy, this particular after 1896. In addition attention will be directed toward the way in which Tregear was able to influence the shape of the industrial legislation, and by doing so extend the controlling powers of his department. In the latter part of the study attention will be concentrated upon a number of important issues, which became the focus of trade union hostility, notably: under-rate permits, the provision for preference clauses in industrial awards end agreements, and the matter of apprenticeship regulations. These issues will also be used to demonstrate the unique nature of the statutory powers enjoyed by the Arbitration Court as an institution untrammelled in its authority, save by the sovereign will of Parliament. In the final section of the thesis the problems facing the Ward government as it strove to find a legislative response to a situation where industrial conflict was re-emerging, will be considered in some detail. Here the difficulties facing John Andrew Miller in his attempts to pass legislation that would control conflict, will be examined against a situation where the emerging sectional interests of industrial labour and the employers' made such efforts virtually impossible. The overarching conclusion of the study will be that the evolving IC and A system, was a contributing influence in the shaping of industrial militancy as it manifested itself in 1906 and 1907, and that such influences profoundly influenced not only the industrial events of 1912 - 1913; but later public attitudes towards industrial militancy in New Zealand.