Conclusion and Bibliography (History Honours dissertation)

Conclusion

Litigation is an important theatre of struggle in social justice movements. Litigation played a significant role in the campaigns for equal pay in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Often the litigation was used to expose the injustices of paying women less than men. The Parker case in New Zealand was the most successful example of litigation being used in this way. The industrial relations frameworks that existed in these jurisdictions made the use of litigation inevitable. Though some variation existed, the political and legal systems had directly descended from the British system.

Governments would respond to equal pay demands in the way that Australian Minister for Labour did in 1953 by saying the Arbitration Court rather than the government was the appropriate body to deal with remuneration issues.[1] This evasive response from governments was also used in response to ratifying ILO convention 100 and 111. The Arbitration systems that existed within New Zealand and Australia upheld the ideology of the male breadwinner. Unions in the early 20th Century subscribed to this breadwinner ideology. When unions took arbitration claims for equal pay as they did for tram conductors during World War 2, this was done explicitly to protect the wages for the men who unions assumed would take these jobs back after the war.

The British campaign had nearly succeeded twice in achieving equal pay in 1936 and 1944. The eventual changes in 1954 to implement equal pay for the civil service were in response to a sustained campaign, where litigation had played a role. The changes in Britain were a significant influence on the New Zealand campaign. The changes in Britain resulted in well attended public meetings in support of equal pay and the movement grew after this change.[2] What made the litigation component of the New Zealand campaign potent as a campaign tool was the response of the state. In demoting Jean Parker to a lower public service role as a result of winning her appeal, the Public Service Commission caused outrage that helped unite those who supported equal pay.

In Australia while NSW passed equal pay legislation in 1958 it was not until the mid to late 1960s that other Australian states followed. In 1969 the ACTU took a case to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and successfully had the minimum rate for women raised from 25% less than the male minimum.[3] The use of litigation in Australia relied on the union peak body making this issue a priority, quite some time after Australia and New Zealand had passed legislation.

It was assumed that once equal pay had been won in the public sector the gains would then flow onto the private sector. The campaign in New Zealand had followed the advice from British unions and feminists in making the public service their focus.[4] In Britain it was not until 1970 that equal pay legislation covering all women workers was passed, 15 years after the civil service changes. Similarly, in New Zealand women in the private sector had to wait a further twelve years until they too gained equal pay in statute. In Australia while some public service unions had made equal pay a focus, there was not the same priority given to gaining equal pay in the public sector first.

The campaigns in Britain, Australia and New Zealand did result in changes legislatively in the 1950s. These changes were in part aided by the use of litigation that unions took on behalf of female workers they represented. These campaigns, while failing to end the gender pay gap, did fundamentally challenge the male breadwinner ideology. The post-World War 2 equal pay campaigns successfully shifted public opinion against wage rates being determined by the workers gender. Grace du Faur summarised the 1950s campaign this way: “we did not have to chain ourselves to the railings to get equal pay, but it was certainly a lot of work.”[5]

 

Bibliography:

Primary Sources:

 Archives New Zealand

“Can the country afford equal pay?” The Auckland Star 18 March 1957

”Cost of Equal Pay for women £24 million Mr Holland says” The Dominion 22 September 1956

“Danger in changing system: Equal pay for women is injustice for men” The Evening Post 24 August 1956

“Equal pay, wage parity for women: Findings of British Inquiry The Evening Post 8 November 1946

“Equal Pay for women in Canada” The Dominion 12 June 1956

“Equal Pay for equal work” Public Service Commission paper 29/08/1955

Pan Pacific Women’s Conference papers 1950 – 1955

 

Dan Long Library

Oral Histories

PSA Equal Pay Campaign Archive Oral Histories

Boyd, Mary, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, August 9 1985

Du Faur, Grace, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, August 9 1988

Ferguson, Jim, interviewed by Cath Kelly and Margaret Long, epcas 38, series 38, November 22 1986

Long, Margaret, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, August 10 1985

Long, Margaret and Kelly, Cath interviewed by Trevor Richards, interview for the special PSA Journal lift out, 1986

McBeth, Joyce, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, August 1 1985

Turnbull, Jack, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, April 19 1986

 

Papers and Publications

Canadian High Commission letter to the NZ Public Service Association, May 1944

Helen Harrison’s Letter to the Canadian High Commission, May 1944

“Economic Effects of Equal Pay in New Zealand” PSA Equal Pay Conference paper August 1955

“Equal pay for women” PSA Publication 1954

“Equal pay and the Parker case” PSA publication 1956

“The case for equal pay for equal work” Women’s Consultative Committee 04/04/1944

“Two years’ hard Labour!” PSA Publication 1959

“Your rights of appeal and how to exercise them” PSA Publication 27/01/1956

 

New Zealand Parliamentary debates

New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, 1956, Volume 309

New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, 1960, Volume 325

 

PSA Journal

The Public Service Journal 1955 – 1960 Volume 42-47, The official organ of the New Zealand Public Service Association 

“200 women at Wellington meeting” PSA Journal Volume 42 Number 3 March 1955 6

“All this in seven years” PSA Journal Volume 43, Number 3 June 1956 6

“ILO and equal pay” PSA Journal Volume 42, Number 5 May 1955 3

“Equal Pay Inquiry Hanging Fire” PSA Journal Volume 44 Number 6 June 1957 1

“Indonesia shows how” PSA Journal Volume 43, Number 3 March 1955 7

“NSW Legislates for equal pay” PSA Journal Volume 45 Number 12 December 1958 9

“Radio talks on equal pay” PSA Journal Volume 43 Number 7 July 1956 7

“Recommendations of Equal Pay Implementation Committee” PSA Journal Volume 47 Number 12 December 1960 1

“The Parker Case” PSA Journal Volume 43 Number 9 September 1956 1

“In the US Civil Service they really mean it! Whole hearted approach to ‘rate for the job’ principle” PSA Journal Volume 44 Number 2 February 1957 1

 

Trove

Westralian Worker ILO to discuss Equal pay for sexes Perth July 21 1950

Launceston Examiner ILO favours equal pay Page 11 July 2 1951

The Tribune reports Union votes for equal pay Sydney, December 16 1953

The Argus The case for equal pay Melbourne April 22 1941

The Canberra Times Equal Pay bill passes through all stages page 13 December 11 1958

The Northern Star Lismore Equal Pay campaign by unions September 24 1953

 

Government Publications

Australian Department of Labour and National Service Equal Pay: Some aspects of Australia and overseas practice 1958

Canadian Women’s Bureau Equality in the Workplace. Wage Discrimination and Women Workers: The move towards Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value in Canada Series A, Number 5. Canadian Government Ottawa 1984

New Zealand Government Report of the Equal Pay Implementation Committee Wellington 21 November 1960

 

Secondary Sources:

Baker, Jeannine Australian Women Journalists and the “Pretence of Equality” Labour History Number 108, May 2015 1-6

Blackburn, Sheila Between the devil of cheap labour competition and the deep sea of family poverty? Seated Labour in time and place, 1840-1914 Labour History Review Volume 17 Number 2 2006 99-121

Brookes, Barbara A History of New Zealand Women Bridget Williams Books Wellington 2016

Cook, Megan Gender and Paid Work in New Zealand, 1950 to 1972 University of Otago, Dunedin 2000

Corner, Margaret No Easy Victory: towards equal pay for women in the government service 1890-1960 New Zealand Public Service Association Dan Long Trust Wellington 1988

Crowley, Mark J ‘Inequality’ and ‘value’ reconsidered? The employment of post office women, 1910-1922 Business History 58:7 985-1007 2016

Daglish, Neil Class and the Civil Service? The case of the Board of Education clerks, LS Selby-Bigge and the MacDonnell Commission History of Education Volume 27 issue 2 1998 141-158

Dalley, Bronwyn Ross, Grace Hilda Cuthberta from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, updated 28-Jan-2014 http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5r25/ross-grace-hilda-cuthberta

Derby, Mark White-collar Radical, Dan Long and the rise of the white collar unions Craig Potton Publishing Nelson 2013

Ellem, Brandon Women’s Rights and Industrial Relations under the Post-war Compact in Australia International Labor and Working-Class History Number 56, Fall 1999 45-64

Field, Jacob F Domestic service, gender, and wages in rural England, c 1700-1860 Economic History Review, Volume 66, issue 1 2012 249-272

Frank, Tim Bread Queues and Breadwinners: Gender in the 1930s The Gendered Kiwi, Auckland University Press 1999

Glew, Helen The slow road to victory: the equal pay campaigns from 1939 to 1954 The University of Manchester Press 2016

Grimshaw, Patricia Zelda D’Aprano, Leadership and the Politics of Gender in the Australian Labour Movement 1945-75 Labour History number 104 May 2013 101-118

Gunderson, Morley The Evolution and Mechanics of Pay Equity in Ontario University of Toronto Press 2002

Hagan, J An incident at dawn Labour History Number 8, May 1965 19-21

Henderson, Alan The quest for efficiency: the origins of the state services commission State Services Commission 1990

Hicks, Colin Lewin, John Philip from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, updated 5-Nov-2013 http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5l9/lewin-john-philip

Hill, Linda Equal pay for equal value: The case for care workers Volume 27 Number 2 December 2013 14-31

Hyman, Prue Women and Economics: A New Zealand Feminist Perspective Bridget Williams Books Wellington 1994

Ingram, Robin The politics of patriarchy: The response of capital and organised labour to the movement of women into the paid workforce in New Zealand Auckland University December 1988

Johnson, Penelope Gender, Class and Work: The Council of Action for Equal Pay and the Equal Pay Campaign in Australia During World War 2 Labour History Number 50, May 1986 132-146

Kovach, Kenneth and Millspaugh, Peter E Comparable Worth: Canada Legislates Equal Pay Equity The Executive, Volume 4 Number 2, May 1990 92-101

Lake, Marilyn The Independence of Women and the Brotherhood of Man: Debates in the Labour Movement over Equal Pay and Motherhood Endowment in the 1920s Labour History Number 63, November 1992 1-24

Locke, Cybèle Workers in the Margins, Union Radicals in Post-War New Zealand Bridget Williams Books Wellington 2012

Logan, Mary Nordy, Arnold Nordmeyer: A political biography Steele Roberts Publishers 2008

MacDonald, Charlotte The vote, the pill and the demon drink: A history of feminist writing in New Zealand 1869-1993 Bridget Williams Books, Wellington 1993

Markey, Raymond Organisational Consolidation and Unionateness in the NSW Public Service Association 1889-1939 Labour History Number 99, November 2010 97-114

Montgomerie, Deborah Man-powering Women: Industrial Conscription during the Second World War in Women in History 2, Edited by Barbara Brookes, Charlotte MacDonald and Margaret Tennant Bridget Williams Books Wellington 1992 184-204

Niemann, Lindsay Equality in the Workplace. Wage discrimination and Women Workers: the move towards equal pay for work of equal value in Canada Women’s Bureau Labour Canada, Ottawa 1984

Nolan, Melanie Breadwinning: New Zealand women and the state Canterbury University Press 2000

Nolan, Melanie and Frances, Raelene Gender and the Trans-Tasman World of Labour: Transnational and Comparative Histories Published in Labour History by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History Inc., November 2008

Nolan, Melanie and Ryan, Shaun Transforming Unionism by Organising? An examination of the ‘Gender Revolution’ in New Zealand Trade Unionism since 1975 Labour History Number 84 May 2003 89-111

Osborne, Richard Equal Pay for Equal Work: A study of legislation in the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom and New Zealand University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor Michigan 1976

Paisley, Fiona Glamour in the Pacific University of Hawai’i Press Honolulu 2009

Pat Thane The Women of the British Labour Party and Feminism 1906-1945 British Feminism in the Twentieth Century Edited by Harold L. Smith University of Massachusetts Press Amherst, MA 1990

Patmore, Greg Australian Labour History Longman Cheshire, Sydney 1991

Pickles, Katie Transnational History and Cultural Cringe: Some Issues for Consideration in New Zealand, Australia and Canada History Compass Volume 9, 12 September 2011

Quartly, Marian and Smart, Judith The Australian National Council of Women Australian Feminist Studies 29:82 325-365

Robertson, Stephen Women, Work and the New Zealand Arbitration System 1894-1920 Labour History, Number 61, November 1991 30-41

Roth, Burt Remedy for Present Evils: a history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890 New Zealand Public Service Association 1987

Ryan, Penny and Rowse, Tim Women, Arbitration and the Family Labour History, Number 29, Women at Work 1975 15-30

Sheridan, Tom and Stretton Pat Pragmatic Procrastination: Governments, Unions and Equal Pay, 1949-68 published in Labour History, No. 94 (May, 2008), pp. 133-156 Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Inc. 2008

Sinclair, Keith Walter Nash Auckland University Press, Auckland 1976

Smith, Harold L British feminism and the equal pay issue in the 1930s Women’s History Review 5:1 1996 97-110

Smith, Harold L The Problem of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” in Great Britain during World War 2 The Journal of Modern History Volume 53, Number 4 1981 652-672

Smith, Harold L The politics of conservative reform: The equal pay for equal work issue 1945 – 1955 The Historical Journal, Volume 35, Number 2 1992

Smith, Harold L The Womanpower Problem in Britain during the Second World War The Historical Journal Volume 27 Number 4, December 1984 925-945

Social Service Review Equal-Pay Convention Adopted by ILO Vol 25, No 4 December 1951 528 Accessed on The University of Chicago Press Journals 7.7.2016

Sullivan, Arthur; Steven M. Shiffrin Economics: Principles in action. Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 2003 324

Stafford, Brigid International Labour Convention on Equal Pay The Irish Monthly Vol 79. Number 938 August 1951 363-364

Sutch, WB The quest for security in New Zealand 1840 to 1966 Oxford University Press, Wellington 1966

Sutch, WB Poverty and Progress in New Zealand, A Re-Assessment AH and AW Reed Wellington 1969

Sutch, WB Women with a cause New Zealand University Press 2nd edition Wellington 1973

Tully, John ‘Nothing but Rebels’: Union Sisters at the Sydney Rubber Works 1918-42  Labour History Number 103, November 2012 59-82

Williams, Kath The Unions and the fight for equal pay Melbourne 20

[1] Sheridan and Stretton 136

[2] PSA Journal 200 women at Wellington meeting Volume 42 number 3 March 1955 6

[3] Patricia Grimshaw Zelda D’Aprano, Leadership and the Politics of Gender in the Australian Labour Movement Labour History number 104, May 2013 111

[4] Margaret Long, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, August 10 1985

[5] Grace du Faur, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, August 9 1988

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The Campaign in New Zealand and Australia (Chapter 5 of my History Honours dissertation)

The Campaign in New Zealand and Australia

Like New Zealand, Australia was influenced by both the ILO convention and the British move to implement equal pay in the civil service. In 1953, the ACTU in NSW initiated a campaign for equal pay expressing concern at the large number of women workers who were being discriminated against.[1] In 1956, the Trades and Labor Council of NSW created an Equal Pay Committee.[2] The Committee focussed on raising awareness of the equal pay issues through public meetings, leaflets and petitions to government.[3] Circulars from the committee detailed how women in the British civil service had won equal pay.[4] One of the initiatives of the committee was to call on unions to lodge equal pay claims in the wage tribunals that set wage rates in Australia.[5] Not all unions advocated for equal pay, or if they did it was a mechanism for defending male wages and discouraging employers from hiring women as cheap labour. Within the trade union movement there were increasing splits between left and right factions at the start of the cold war in the late 1940s. There was pressure after the Second World War for returned service men to receive preference in employment over other job seekers.[6]  Feminist and other progressives were looking to intensify the struggle for equal pay and equal opportunity for women.[7] Women in Australia had made gains during and after the war, resulting in an increase to the minimum female rate to 75% of male’s minimum rate in the 1945-50 basic wage enquiry.[8] After this move equal pay was considered the logical next step. Continuing to improve the lot for women workers would not prove to be an easy task however. In the early 1950s, the Australian union movement barely fended off an attempt to lower the female basic wage to 60% of men’s.[9] Also throughout the equal pay campaigns in the 1950s the level of enthusiasm by many unions were not strong, as many of the more conservative union leaders were not sympathetic. In 1957, the chair of the Queensland Equal Pay committee said he found it difficult to whip up enthusiasm among unions for equal pay in that state.[10] In South Australia, equal pay meetings and events did not commence until 1958 and even then were poorly attended.[11] This issue of unions lacking enthusiasm for the cause was not unique to Australia, as in both New Zealand and Britain a number of unions also were not actively pushing the equal pay cause at this time.

One difference the British and New Zealand campaigns had compared with Australia was that in Britain and New Zealand litigation had been used effectively as a tool to shift public opinion by demonstrating the injustice of women being paid less. The Australian Public Service Board which, like the New Zealand Public Service Commission, set public service pay rates, believed the issue of equal pay went beyond its responsibility. In March 1957, the Secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council called on female public servants to go on strike against the government in support of equal pay demands.[12] The Victorian Public Service Association opposed this call for strike action, and argued that the focus should be on the Public Service Board which set wages rather than the government.[13] This disagreement within the Australian union movement, about who the campaign should be targeting explains why litigation did not build the campaign in the same way in Australia.

The Australian State most advanced on the equal pay issue in the 1950s was New South Wales, where Labor had governed since 1944. Powerful state unions with an effective relationship with the state government helped this happen. The NSW PSA had in the late 1930s been active within the Council of Action for Equal Pay, a coalition of women’s organisations and some trade unions.[14] This coalition was disbanded in 1948 having been active throughout the Second World War. Sentimentalised ideas of women returning to domestic roles gained favour and earlier support dwindled.[15] By the mid-1950s there was a revival of agitation by unionists and women’s groups in NSW.[16] The ACTU held women’s conferences in the mid-1950s in NSW and these were reported on by New Zealanders involved in the equal pay campaign. In 1958, the New Zealand PSA Journal reported that the Equal Pay Committee in NSW was doing weekly radio talks, amongst other campaign activities.[17]  At this time the NSW government had announced plans to introduce equal pay legislation, which it subsequently did the following year. In March 1958 the Equal Pay Committee held the National Working Women’s Conference in Sydney.[18]  Margaret Long from the PSA equal pay campaign attended this conference.[19]  Here she announced that the newly-elected Labour government in New Zealand would introduce equal pay legislation. This forced Labour finance minister Nordmeyer to come out and deny this in the media, saying that Labour only supported equal pay in principle. Nordmeyer was reportedly furious and claimed that Long had no right make this announcement at the Sydney ACTU conference.[20] This response was not untypical of how politicians in the three countries studied responded to pressure on the equal pay issue.

[1] The Northern Star Lismore Equal Pay campaign by unions September 24 1953 1

[2] Williams 100

[3] Williams 100

[4] Williams 100

[5] Williams 100

[6] Ellem 53

[7] Ellem 53

[8] Marian Quartly and Judith Smart Respectable Radicals: A history of the National Council of Women of Australia 1896 -2006 Monash University 2015 207

[9] Sheridan and Stretton 137

[10] Sheridan and Stretton 137

[11] Sheridan and Stretton 137

[12] Sheridan and Stretton 137

[13] Sheridan and Stretton 137

[14] Markey 105

[15] Penelope Johnson Class and Work: The Council of Action for Equal Pay and the Equal Pay Campaign in Australia during World War Two Labour History Number 50 1986 146

[16] Johnson 146

[17] PSA Journal Radio talks on equal pay volume 43 number 7 July 1956

[18] Williams 112

[19] Margaret Long, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, October 10 1985

[20] Jim Ferguson, interviewed by Cath Kelly and Margaret Long, epcas 38, series 38, November 22 1986

The Jean Parker Case (Chapter 4 of my history honours dissertation)

The Jean Parker Case

The push for equal pay within the PSA was still not universally accepted by the mid-1950s. In 1957 some departmental representatives from Auckland collected signatures against equal pay which they forwarded to the PSA head office and the Public Service Commission.[1] One young draughtsman wrote to his superiors distancing himself from the PSA campaign claiming that no man would ever like to work under a women.[2] Not all opposition was as strong as this, but others did not see the equal pay campaign as one the union should prioritise. PSA General Secretary Jack Turnbull thought the more imperative social priority was to make improvements to the family benefit rather than focus on equal pay.[3] Turnbull supported removing the salary cap for women in the public service but was not an enthusiastic supporter of the calls, and had until 1955 been frustrated that those in the union who supported equal pay had no proposed partial measures to achieve it.[4] However, having worked with women in public hospitals, Turnbull experienced how the public service was undervaluing women’s labour.[5] From this Turnbull become a more enthusiastic advocate for this cause.

Parker poster2
A flyer for the Jean Parker case

International developments such as the ILO Convention and the introduction of equal for the British Civil Service did begin to influence opinion. One international influence on PSA women was the Pan Pacific Women’s conference which New Zealand hosted in Christchurch in January 1952.[6]  New Zealand women had participated in Pan Pacific gatherings since 1928.[7] International speakers such as E Blyth one of the Australian delegates who reported on developments at the United Nations (UN) and the ILO.[8] Other speeches from this conference reported that equal pay existed in Burma, Indonesia, Philippines, Ceylon and Vietnam.[9] Australia and New Zealand were among the few countries represented at this conference where equal work was not rewarded with equal pay.[10]

In August 1955 the PSA held its first Women’s Conference which was organised by the PSA Equal Pay Committee.[11] Grace du Faur a committee member who later was to become chair of the Equal Pay Council tells of the marvellous help given by Bill Sutch of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Grace applauded Sutch for taking an unpopular line and supporting this with crucial research material.[12] Sutch’s paper Economic Effects of Equal pay in New Zealand produced data showing that most men in employment were not supporting a family with their wages. Further that a great number of women in the workforce were in fact supporting dependants, directly challenging the theory of male workers being the breadwinner. Jim Fergusson who at the time was PSA Vice President and a year later became President recalled the impact the data had on the campaign. Only 46 percent of married men and widowers were supporting families according to Sutch’s research, and the number of male ‘breadwinners’ as a percentage was even lower when single men were added to the mix.[13] Margaret, Long was one of the key organisers of the conference. Aside from the paper, Sutch is said to have provide considerable anonymous support and advice to the conference organisers. Long and Sutch knew each other previously from involvement in various human rights organisations. One piece of advice Long remembers Sutch giving her was to not drink alcohol until after she had spoken to the press at the end of the conference.[14]

Sutch told the conference that in the English speaking world there had been considerable acceptance of equal pay for men and women.[15] Sutch specifically gave the examples from Britain and Canada along with other European nations who made advances towards equal pay. These International developments added momentum for similar moves to occur in New Zealand. Litigation was a feature in British campaign, and this example was looked at by activists in the PSA. Prior to the Parker case the PSA had unsuccessfully taken the Moss case to the Supreme Court (the equivalent of the modern New Zealand High Court).[16] In this case the PSA had attempted to put female public servants on the same basis of seniority as men.[17] Seniority for men in the public service at this time meant moving up pay grades. However, for women there was a salary cap so length of service was not rewarded in the same way for female public servants. While the Moss case was unsuccessful, the case was useful to the PSA because the judge advised that the Public Service Appeal Board to challenge female salary caps in the public service.[18]

The PSA then began to encourage women to take cases to the Public Service Appeal board. A leaflet was produced by the PSA advising women in the how to do this.[19] Women were informed that if they were barred at £575, £615 or £665 per annum, and were “officers” at the relevant times had a right of appeal against the appointment of any male appointed with a maximum salary of £705.[20] Again the focus of this call to action was in support of rate for the job meaning salary bands should not be different for men and women. Jim Ferguson believed that, had the PSA tried to push not just for this, but work of equal value as the ILO convention had allowed, this would have made it easier for the government to reject equal pay calls. He and others involved were, however aware of the challenges this posed for female dominated occupations such as typists.[21]

In response, seventy women lodged appeals against male appointees.[22] However, due to the way the appeal process worked, the PSA was aware that a potential response from the Public Service Commission would be to reduce the salary of the women taking the appeal. After a period of negotiation with the Public Service Commission, the PSA decided to proceed with two cases to the Appeals Board, that of Mrs Parker and Mrs A.E Millar.[23]  Jean Parker was a 25 year-old clerk at Inland Revenue who supported her husband while he studied medicine at Otago University.[24] Margaret Long describes Inland Revenue along with the Social Welfare Department as being ghettos for women workers where women would be put in charge of others but not financially rewarded for the extra responsibilities.[25] Parker had eight staff reporting to her, yet her seniority and responsibility in the department did not exempt her from a salary cap placed on female but not male employees.[26] The case was taken by the PSA on behalf of Parker, because she was being paid less than a male cadet recently appointed at the same class six grade.[27] Parker was seen as the ideal candidate because she was considered efficient and experienced in her work.[28]  Also, according to Margaret Long, Parker had “a very pleasant appearance – modest, well dressed, and no whisper of stridency.”[29] General Secretary Jack Turnbull described Parker as a “capable girl” and “clearly a fit person” in comparison to other women on behalf of whom the PSA could have taken a case.[30] In the context of 1950s New Zealand society and conservative social expectations of women, factors such as presentation and work ethic were very important. As they were the face for the PSA equal pay campaign, having someone who was seen as respectable and not a trouble maker was important for the campaign’s credibility. Another factor was that Parker was from Dunedin rather than Wellington where a great number of those involved with the equal pay campaign resided.

While The Millar case was unsuccessful.[31] But the Appeal Board upheld Parkers case.[32]  Parkers’ seven years’ service plus her level of seniority within the public service no doubt counted in her favour. The response of the Public Service Commission was to order that Jean Parker be transferred into a more junior role and that her salary be reduced from   £650 to £460 a year.[33] Her response was “there will be £8 less in my next fortnight’s pay, just because I am a woman.”[34]  From the campaigners’ point of view this this was a gift and galvanised public opinion in favour of the equal pay cause. The Parker case drew public attention to the issue and was seen by the union as a success and a turning point for the movement.[35] Margaret Long believed the PSC could not have promoted the cause better by reacting in the way that it did.[36] The Commission justified this action on the basis that it would open itself up to further appeals when cadets were appointed in the future.[37]  The Public Service Commission had tried to argue unsuccessfully to the Appeals Board that “male cadets were a great degree more suitable and efficient”[38] and this view clearly prevailed within the PSC even after losing this case. According to PSA activist Cath Kelly, the commissioners were reactionary and held the view that women only work till they marry.[39] In this respect the use of litigation had highlighted the injustice that existed within the public service, and helped build the campaign for equal pay in the public service.

PSC chairman George Bolt took a strong position in opposition to equal pay in the public service. At the 1955 PSA women’s conference he infamously stated, “why would we pay 10 shillings for an article we can get for 5” in response to calls for women to receive equal pay.[40] Bolt’s response to losing the Parker appeal, was to press for legislation to limit appeal rights, though he was unsuccessful in convincing the government to do this.[41] The PSC did eventually respond to public pressure over Jean Parker being stripped of her status in the department with a temporary agreement that allowed her to resume her previous salary and position.[42]

For the wider campaign, the Parker case had drawn attention to the equal pay cause in New Zealand, as had the British example of clerical workers a few years earlier. In Australia, the campaign was also starting to gain momentum, though the direction this campaign took differed to some extent from that in New Zealand and Britain, and it is to this that we now turn.

 

             

[1] Ingram 240

[2] Ingram 240

[3] Jack Turnbull, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, April 19 1986

[4] Jack Turnbull, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, April 19 1986

[5] Jack Turnbull, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, April 19 1986

[6] Corner 35

[7] Charlotte MacDonald The vote, the pill and the demon drink: A history of feminist Writing in New Zealand 1869-1993 Bridget Williams Books 1993 90

[8] Fiona Paisley Glamour in the Pacific: Cultural Internationalism and Race Politics in the Women’s Pan-Pacific University of Hawai’i 2009

[9] Corner 35

[10] Corner 35

[11] Corner 42

[12] Grace du Faur, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, August 9 1988

[13] Jim Fergusson, interviewed by Cath Kelly and Margaret Long, epcas 38, series 38, November 22 1986

[14] Margaret Long, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38, August 10 1985

[15] Bill Sutch Economic Effects of Equal Pay in New Zealand Department of Industry and Commerce, August 1 1955

[16] Corner 49

[17] Ingram 238

[18] Corner 49

[19] PSA leaflet Your Rights of Appeal and How to exercise them 27/1/1956

[20] PSA leaflet Your Rights of Appeal and How to exercise them January 27 1956

[21] Jim Ferguson, interviewed by Cath Kelly and Margaret Long, epcas 38, series 38, November 22 1986

[22] Ingram 238

[23] Henderson 267

[24] Mark Derby White collar Radical, Dan Long and the rise of the white-collar unions Craig Potton Publishing 2013 120

[25] Margaret Long and Cath Kelly, interviewed by Trevor Richards, interview for the special PSA Journal liftout, 1986

[26] Derby  120

[27] Cook 16

[28] Derby 120

[29] Derby 120

[30] Jack Turnbull, interviewed by Cath Kelly, epcas 38, series 38, April 19 1986

[31] Roth 143 It improved impossible to find information as to why this case was unsuccessful.

[32] Derby 120

[33] Roth 144

[34] Roth 144

[35] Corner 49

[36] Margaret Long and Cath Kelly, interviewed by Trevor Richards, interview for the special PSA Journal liftout, 1986

[37] Henderson 268

[38] Nolan 239

[39] Margaret Long and Cath Kelly, interviewed by Trevor Richards, interview for the special PSA Journal lift out, 1986

[40] Corner 42

[41] Henderson 272

[42] Derby 122

The British Civil Service and Equal Pay (Chapter 3 of my History Honours dissertation)

The British Civil Service

There were similarities between the British and the New Zealand campaigns for equal pay in the public service. One example is that, like New Zealand, Britain introduced a family allowance, at the end of the Second World War, challenging the concept of the breadwinner male wage.[1] According to Helen Glew, the campaign in Britain really began gaining traction and support in 1944 when a Royal Commission on Equal Pay was established in response to a House of Commons debate.[2] Harold L Smith disagrees with this assessment, making the case that equal pay campaigns had twice nearly succeeded in the 1930s and 1940s in Britain. The Royal Commission had in fact been a ploy by the Conservative Churchill government to delay parliamentary consideration of equal pay till after the war when pressure for reform would have subsided.[3] In the mid 1930’s British feminist organisations had begun building equal pay campaigns. Feminist groups argued that equal pay protected male jobs, as they found this was easier to win public support for the cause than arguing their position from a justice for women position.[4] As women entered the workforce in greater numbers during the war support for equal pay continued to increase. Public opinion increasingly favoured equal pay in Britain by the early 1950s, which eventually resulted in a political response. This change in Britain had a significant effect on the New Zealand campaign and public opinion about equal pay.

In Britain as in Australia and New Zealand, state arbitration mechanisms were used to regulate civil service pay which were at arm’s length from elected politicians. These mechanisms were used by governments to avoid taking action on equal pay following the Second World War.[5] In the early 1950s the threat of arbitration was used as successful leverage against the British local government sector for clerical government workers.[6] In 1952 council unions began a petition campaign regarding low pay for clerical workers in that sector after it emerged that the British Government had told the ILO that equal pay in that sector should be settled in collective bargaining.[7] The petition, which gained considerable support, said that the clerical rates set in 1919 were a “miscalculation,” specifically that the rates were calculated because it was wrongly believed that clerical women could not do the same work as efficiently as clerical men.[8] This tactic of arguing about this 1919 calculation by local authorities was a way of challenging local government justifications about wage setting being based on efficiency.[9]

The Conservative British Government’s announcement of its intention to introduce equal pay into the civil service in 1954 influenced the decision of the New Zealand PSA to renew the push for equal pay in the mid-1950s.[10] Far greater attention was given to the British equal pay movement by the New Zealand campaign than other countries like Indonesia where the cause was further advanced.[11] Along with the continued influence of English law in New Zealand, one reason for this was the phenomenon known as the cultural cringe, a term first coined in the 1950s by early postcolonial academics.[12] Cultural cringe was considered to be born out of British imperialism and the assumption that New Zealand and Australian culture was a derivative culture that mimicked Britain.[13] This concept describes how in many ways New Zealanders would attempt to mimic Britain socially and politically. In this example New Zealand’s equal pay campaign was in something of a hiatus until the British campaign made achievements for their civil servants. The concept of men being the breadwinner and needing to be paid a higher wage had come from Britain. When Britain introduced equal pay for the Civil Service and rejected the concept of the male breadwinner, the New Zealand campaign really took off.

In discussing the shift in the New Zealand National Party’s position on equal pay during the 1950s, Cook says “support for equal pay was growing in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries; although this did not translate into concrete action until the mid-fifties.”[14] The overseas connections appear to have been relatively strong[15] with mention of the British campaign often made at women’s conferences and in PSA publications at the time. The British campaign was cited as an example of how women could win pay parity in New Zealand.[16]

The developments in the UK were reported on regularly in the New Zealand PSA Journal. When the British Government made changes to the Civil Service pay grades to bring women up to male wages the PSA Journal described the phased introduction of equal pay.[17] In March 1955 the PSA Journal claimed that Britain would introduce equal pay for government employees working in clerical and professional roles. In March 1955 it was reported that in Indonesia “since the founding of the republic, the principle of equal pay for equal work is accepted and applied to the Government Service”.[18] In June 1956 it was reported in the PSA Journal that seven Latin American countries had made equal pay “normal practice in their public service.”[19] This gives us some idea that events happening internationally were being noticed and reported on by those wishing to see similar developments in New Zealand.

[1] Helen Glew The slow road to victory: the equal pay campaigns from 1939 to 1954  Manchester University Press 2016 154

[2] Glew 150

[3] Harold L Smith The Problem of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” in Great Britain during World War II The Journal of Modern History, volume 53 Number 4 1981 671

[4] Harold L Smith British feminism and the equal pay issue in the 1930s Women’s history review 1996 102

[5] Glew 159

[6] Glew 162

[7] Glew 161

[8] Glew 162

[9] Glew 162

[10] Alan Henderson The quest for efficiency: the origins of the State Services Commission State Services Commission 1990 236

[11] PSA Journal Indonesia shows how Volume 42 Number 3, March 1955

[12] Katie Pickles Transnational History and Cultural Cringe: Some Issues for Consideration in New Zealand, Australia and Canada History Compass Volume 9, 12 September 2011 2

[13] Pickles 2

[14] Henderson 83

[15] Corner 3

[16] Cook 16

[17] PSA Journal All this in seven years, British Equal Pay Volume 43 number 3 1956 6

[18] PSA Journal Indonesia shows the way Volume 42 number 3 1955 7

[19] PSA Journal All this in seven years, British Equal Pay  volume 43 number 3 1956 6

The ILO and Equal Pay (Chapter 2 of my History Honours dissertation)

The ILO and Equal Pay

The 1950s began with a significant international development with regard to equal pay. In 1951, the ILO passed Convention 100 which called for equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.[1] The ILO, founded in 1919, had for many years had in its constitution the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.[2] This principle was first debated and agreed at the Versailles Peace Treaty negotiations at the end of the First World War.[3] At the 33rd session of the ILO in 1951, the decision was made to put this principle into a formal Convention. The Convention said that there should be equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value.[4] The motives of the ILO members in taking this action were concerns that so long as women were paid sub-standard wages when they did comparable work with men, standard rates for the job would be in peril and the standard of living of workers in jeopardy.[5] The significance of this move was that, rather than just being a principle or recommendation, by specifying this in a convention it became part of UN international law and legally binding on member states.

This was viewed as a significant step by the members of the New Zealand campaign. Bill Sutch, a keen supporter of the equal pay cause in New Zealand, claimed that the ILO traditionally did not promote or advocate advanced labour or social legislation. Instead it tended to crystallise what was already there.[6] It was significant then that the ILO passed this convention at a time when a great number of countries had no legislation regarding equal pay and in many countries there was active discrimination against female workers. The ILO Convention calling for equal pay for work of equal value gives a broader definition than simple rate for the job arguments. The union campaigns under review here called for a rate for the job and opposed pay structures that built in lower pay for women.  In passing Convention 100, the ILO was considered to have adopted the highest common denominator of member nations regarding equal pay.[7] Whereas in New Zealand, Australia and the Britain, equal rates for the job had still not been realised, in other nations such as Holland, Canada, Indonesia and France the discussion about equal value had already begun.

Governments in New Zealand, Australia and Britain did not support the ILO convention. In 1951, the Menzies Federal Liberal Government claimed to support the principle of the ILO equal pay convention[8] However, the Australian government did not ratify this convention on the grounds that wage setting was a matter for adjudication by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.[9] The Westralian Worker reported that there was the possibility of arriving at a comparison of men and women’s work when the jobs were identical.[10] Like Australia, New Zealand refused to ratify this convention for similar reasons.

Linda Hill cites the 1951 ILO convention as the point when women public servants really began campaigning for equal pay in New Zealand.[11] In May 1955, Margaret Long (nee Brand), who was a key activist in the New Zealand equal pay campaign, wrote in the PSA journal about the ILO Convention. In this article, Brand claimed the ILO did not put its main emphasis on social justice, rather it promotes equal pay as economically desirable.[12]  Long then reviewed developments in the UK and the USA. She contrasted these countries with Australia and New Zealand where minimum wage rates were fixed on a family requirement rather than on job content, meaning equal pay did not fit so easily with the economic framework as it then existed.[13] Those who were becoming active in the New Zealand campaign were talking increasingly about the ILO.  Also, according to Long, internationally the public sector should be the first place to push for equal pay, believing the state would then set the standard for the rest of the labour market.[14] For the purposes of domestic litigation, in the Arbitration Courts and Public Service Appeal Boards, the ILO Convention provided moral rather than legal weight. The Convention also signalled that members states should be implementing equal pay legislation, and that women should be able to use the legal system as a way of obtaining equal pay with men.

As in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the position of the Canadian Government was to abstain on ILO convention 100.[15] In Canada however, the ILO convention had an immediate political impact. The province of Ontario passed equal pay legislation in 1951.[16]  Following on from this, in 1956 the Canadian government passed legislation requiring that in all provincial jurisdictions women were to be paid the same as men for equal or substantially similar work. [17] This legislation was for equal pay for women in the same or substantially similar work.[18] Some women employed in the Canadian Federal Civil Service already had equal pay status with men.[19] This change would extend equal pay to an estimated 73,000 more women in the Canadian service.[20]

The development in Canada of equal pay legislation was more immediate than in the three countries being examined. However, in all cases the ILO decision helped equal pay campaigns gain attention and momentum. In the case of Britain, this development coincided with other events which were to bring the equal pay campaign to the fore.

[1] Margaret Corner No Easy Victory: Towards equal pay for women in the Government Service 1890 – 1960 New Zealand Public Service Association Dan Long Trust, Wellington 1988 36

[2] Social Service Review  Equal-Pay Convention Adopted by ILO Vol 25, No 4 December 1951 528 Accessed on The University of Chicago Press Journals July 7 2016

[3] Lindsay Niemann Equality in the Workplace: Wage Discrimination and Women Workers: The move towards equal pay for work of equal value in Canada Published by Women’s Bureau Labour Canada. 1984 5

[4] Hill 15

[5] Brigid Stafford International Labour Convention on Equal Pay The Irish Monthly Vol 79. Number 938 August 1951 363

[6] WB Sutch Women with a cause New Zealand University Press Wellington 1973 182

[7] WB Sutch Women with a cause New Zealand University Press Wellington 1973 182

[8] Greg Patmore Australian Labour History Longman Cheshire Sydney 1991 177

[9] Patmore 177

[10] Westralian Worker ILO to discuss equal pay July 21 1950 4

[11] Hill 15

[12] Brand ILO and Equal Pay PSA Journal Volume 42, Number 5 May 1955 3

[13] Brand ILO and Equal Pay PSA Journal Volume 42, Number 5 May 1955 3

[14] Margaret Long and Cath Kelly, interviewed by Trevor Richards, interview for the special PSA Journal liftout, 1986

[15] Niemann 17

[16] Morley Gunderson The Evolution and Mechanics of Pay Equity in Ontario University of Toronto Press 2002

[17] Kenneth A Kovach and Peter E Millspaugh Comparable Worth: Canada Legislations Pay Equity The Executive Volume 4 Number 2 May 1990 95

[18] Kenneth A Kovach and Peter E Millspaugh Comparable Worth: Canada Legislations Pay Equity The Executive Volume 4 Number 2 May 1990 95

[19] The Dominion Equal Pay for Women in Canada NZ Press Association 12 June 1956

[20] The Dominion Equal Pay for Women in Canada NZ Press Association 12 June 1956

Equal Pay in historical context -Chapter 1 of my History Honours dissertation

Equal Pay in historical context

New Zealand and Australia were settler colonies of the British Empire in the early 19th century. Many women migrants from Britain to New Zealand were domestic servants or seamstresses.[1] Settlers brought with them British values and cultural outlooks. In all three countries, ideology – if not reality- emphasised the male breadwinner, with dependant wife and children. While both countries gained greater independence from Britain in the early half of the 20th century these values continued to survive.

Many feminist commentators argue the state played a crucial role in upholding the male breadwinner ideology. It did this through creating a dual labour market with men in the primary and women the secondary sector of the economy.[2] The state also did this through gendered welfare systems.[3] Labour organisations were often proponents of the breadwinning concept as well. In the late 19th century the labour movement sought male wages that would be enough to support their dependants as well.[4]

Both Australia and New Zealand had a system of arbitration whereby disputes or contentious decisions regarding rates of pay or conditions were decided by an independent tribunal. The parties, namely the unions, the employers and the government would then be bound by the decision which was referred to as an Award.[5] In 1894 in New Zealand the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act (IC & A Act) introduced compulsory arbitration for certain industries where the union and employer could not agree an outcome in bargaining.[6] A decision of the arbitration court was binding on all parties once made. For female labour the IC & A Act was a mixed blessing. On the one hand the introduction of arbitration set a minimum wage and level of conditions which eradicated the sweat shop conditions some women faced in the 19th century. Arbitration also resulted in wage rates that were lower for female employees, something usually favoured by unionists fearing that female workers would be used to undercut the male wage rate.[7] By the early 20th century some labour organisations supported equal pay as a way of discouraging employers from employing women as cheap labour.

Unlike Australia, In New Zealand the male breadwinner wage was not formalised in the arbitration system, but was included in the 1936 labour legislation.[8] In 1912 the Australian Arbitration Court ruled in the Mildura Fruit picking case that wage levels should be decided according to the sex of the job, and that jobs that were deemed men’s work would be paid at a higher rate.[9] In 1919 the Australian Arbitration Court set a basic rate of pay for women that was 54% of the basic male rate.[10]  While the New Zealand Arbitration system was never this blatant, the New Zealand system also sustained and systematised the wage advantages of men over women.[11] To protect male workers’ wages and status, arbitration courts in both countries would either prohibit the use of female labour, or impose conditions that would make it unattractive for employers to employ women.[12] A New Zealand example of this was the 1912 Typographers Award where the Union successfully sought a clause stating that women would be employed on the same rates and conditions as men.[13] Doing this made sure there was no monetary saving by employing women, meaning employers were more likely to employ men.

Further, when the depression of the 1930’s hit New Zealand, women were blamed for contributing to male unemployment. In 1931, Legislative Councillor Robert Masters argued that women taking up roles in offices and stores had caused the unemployment of men.[14] Tim Frank in his essay Bread Queues and Breadwinners: Gender in the 1930s argues, in an era where masculine identities were constructed around employment, occupational status and breadwinning were undermined by unemployment.[15]

The Public Service was not covered by the IC & A Act, but by the 1912 Public Service Act. New Zealand Public Service departmental wages and conditions were set centrally by the Public Service Commission for departments. This provided for an Appeal Board which had a similar function to the Arbitration Court.[16] Decisions on appointments and pay grades could be appealed and taken to the Public Service Appeal Board which, much like the Arbitration Court, made binding decisions about employment issues. The Public Service Act of 1912 set a basic minimum wage for adult males in the public service but had been silent on females.[17]

The New Zealand Public Service Association first put forward an equal pay resolution at its conference in 1914.[18] While officially supporting equal pay, the issue was not pursued in any serious way by the organisation.[19] While the PSA had female public service representatives on its executive from 1914, this did little to spur the PSA into action on this issue. One barrier to building a strong public service campaign was that not all public servants were covered by the Public Service Act. The Post Office and Railways had their own legislation.[20] But social attitudes of PSA members regarding women and work were the main reason this was not a priority issue for the union prior to the 1940s.

Raelene Frances and Melanie Nolan’s study of gender and industrial relations in Australia and New Zealand describes how the male breadwinning concept and, by extension, that of female dependency was found in most industrialised capitalist societies from the late 19th century.[21] This idea seems to have taken a much stronger hold in Australia with the ‘Manzone Country’ concept of masculinist culture marking the gendered division of labour.[22] While the male breadwinning concept had been imported from Britain, historians have made the case that in New Zealand the concept of women being bound to the house and children was stronger compared with other advanced capitalist countries.[23] In 1891 the total proportion of women in the New Zealand workforce was only 25%, increasing only to 28% by 1926.[24] It is in this context that an environment developed in New Zealand and Australia where centralised and compulsory wage fixing was designed to protect male wage-earners.[25]

As in New Zealand, the issue of equal pay for Australian women had been raised within the union movement and by feminist organisations for a number of years. An example of this was in 1902 when the Victorian Women’s Post and Telegraph Association led a campaign for equal pay and opportunity for women.[26] At this time the Australian Commonwealth Public Service had just been established after Australian Federation in 1901. Australian women could work in the Public Service but were expected to retire once they married. By contrast in New Zealand women were employed only on a temporary basis until the 1940s.

The Second World War resulted in significant labour shortages both in New Zealand and internationally, due to the number of men being called up to fight. In New Zealand, the National Service Department began a programme of industrial conscription to fill the labour shortages with women workers.[27] Popular images from the time show women entering traditionally male dominated occupations such as engineering or munitions. However the majority of women who entered the workforce at this time were in professions already regarded as conventional women’s job such as food processing and textiles.[28] The increasing number of women entering the workforce can be seen as accelerating the trend that began pre-war. The New Zealand government framed this situation as a necessary evil and that domestic responsibilities of women needed to be put on hold to contribute to the war effort.[29]

In Britain the Women Power Committee (WPC) was established in 1940 in response to the large number of women who were needed to enter the workforce.[30] In Britain labour shortages caused by the war were even greater than in New Zealand and Australia. Realising this would add weight to existing calls for equal pay, the British government introduced a scheme whereby, after an 8 month probation period and subject to satisfactory performance, women employed in men’s work could receive the male wage.[31] Most women conscripted into work did not receive equal pay as a result of this measure. A 1941 Gallup poll in Britain indicated that 68% of those interviewed supported equal pay.[32] Equal pay was to remain on the political agenda throughout the war in Britain.

During the Second World War calls for equal pay in New Zealand grew due to increased female participation in the workforce. In 1943 the PSA set up a sub committee to investigate equal pay, but within the context of the male wage being required to support a family, therefore, the investigation also looked at enhancing the family allowance.[33] At this time, most rank and file PSA members and many New Zealand workers generally believed that male workers should be the breadwinners of the family and their wages should reflect this.[34] Mary Boyd was one of the PSA women’s representatives in the mid-1940s. Boyd recalls that women in the public service were not all of one mind. Many women agreed that women should finish employment after they were married. Those who were driving the PSA equal pay campaign were university graduates such as Rona Bailey (nee Meek) who went on to become president of the PSA women’s committee in 1945.[35] For many women who supported the concept of rate for the job, they supported this as a way of protecting the male breadwinner income at a time when women were entering the workforce during the war.[36]

See the source image
During the Second World War women entered the workforce in high numbers.

Mary Boyd was asked to write a report outlining the arguments for equal pay in the public service in 1944, which she did with the help of civil servant Bill Sutch.[37] The report titled the case for equal pay for equal work reviewed changes social at home and overseas, also the forms of exploitation women had suffered in history. The report recommended that men and women should receive equal remuneration for work of equal value and that this be observed throughout the New Zealand Public Service.[38]

In 1943, the PSA Executive made the decision that any campaign for equal pay, and specifically rate for the job without gender discrimination, would need to be coupled with calls for a universal family allowance.[39] Prior to 1946 family allowances were not universal. At the time 83% of women public servants, when surveyed, said they wanted both equal pay and a universal family allowance.[40] Universal family allowances meant families no longer were as dependant the male breadwinner wage, removing a significant barrier to the equal pay campaign.

In Australia, both Liberal and National Coalition governments (the conservative political block in Australian politics) and Labor Governments used the Australian arbitration system as a way of avoiding the issue of equal pay. As in New Zealand, the onset of war resulted in women entering the workforce in significant numbers. In March 1942, the Curtin Labor Government established the Women’s Employment Board, which operated independently from the federal arbitration system.[41] This board made the decision to raise the minimum rate for women from 54% to 60% of male rates.[42]  This board was scrapped in 1944, but was the first move towards shifting female rates at a time when women were needed in the Australian workforce. The official position of the Australian union movement’s peak body, the ACTU was to lift the rates of women workers. In 1937, the ACTU had put forward the basic wage claim to lift women’s wages to 60 percent[43] as a first step towards equal pay for women. The official policy of the ACTU was to support equal pay for work of equal value, however it and its affiliate members continued to press for a family wage, buying into the male breadwinner concept which undermined their position.[44] Despite the ACTU’s official position on equal pay, much of the movement was less than wholehearted about women entering the workforce, let alone equal pay.[45]  Even as late as 1952, the President of the Queensland branch of the Australian Workers’ Union declared the union should not tolerate employment of females in industry while a breadwinner was unemployed.[46]

These ‘masculinist’ attitudes in Australia did not necessarily mean public opinion was against the concept of equal pay. A poll conducted by the Melbourne Herald in October 1941 found that 59 percent of those polled supported equal pay for women.[47] In 1943, Arbitration Judge A.W. Foster believed that ‘the community in the future, if not in the present, will have to face the problem of so-called “equal pay” much more earnestly than it has so far done.[48] Statements like this show that arbitration judges in Australia were feeling some pressure on the issue of equal pay. However, both state and federal governments continued to avoid the issue for many years by leaving the decisions in the hands of the arbitration system.

Strong comparisons can be made between the Australian and New Zealand campaigns in the 1940s. Because both countries used similar arbitration systems, unions used the Arbitration Courts as a tool to seek equal pay or at least to draw attention to the issue. Like the ACTU, in New Zealand the Federation of Labour (FOL), the private sector union peak body, was calling for women’s wages to be increased in awards. The FOL position was that achieving one rate for the job in awards was the job for affiliates, rather than the central organisation.[49] Like many Australian unions, in New Zealand a number of male dominated unions were opposed or indifferent to equal pay.[50] Other unions supported calls for equal pay but not out of any belief in women’s equality.

In 1945, equal pay was awarded to tram conductors and postal clerks in Australia.[51] This compares with New Zealand where, according to PSA equal pay activist Mary Boyd, Tramways was the first union to gain equal pay in an award through Arbitration in the 1940s.[52] In Australia this issue was complicated in 1956 when the Tramways Board tried to employ female tram drivers on equal pay rates. In this case the union threatened strike action to stop the move.[53] In Britain the Transport and General Workers Union demanded equal pay for fully trained bus and tram conductors.[54]  When the matter went before the Industrial court in April 1940 it ruled in favour of equal pay, making this one of the first group of workers in Britain to achieve this.

At the start of the Second World War female conductors were employed on the Auckland buses.[55] To cover for the shortage of male conductors the employer proposed to extend working hours. The Tramways Union responded to this by proposing that female conductors and the 40 hour week be maintained. At the conclusion of the war, despite having actually campaigned to bring women into the workforce as a way of retaining conditions, the union executive voted to close membership of the union to women in 1946.[56]  In a union publication towards the end of the war it was stated “I am sure our women comrades will be only too happy and will make way for the men folk when the time comes.”[57] The employer did not heed the union’s call to stop employing female conductors until 1956 when the last public tram in Auckland stopped running.[58]

In both Australia and New Zealand, the Tramways Unions were not advocating equal pay on the basis of women’s equality. Instead, Tramways members were seeking to protect male’s breadwinner wages by making the employment of women more expensive. Despite this, the Tramways Union in New Zealand was still viewed as the leading union advocates for equal pay in the 1940. This example did provide encouragement to women within the New Zealand PSA who were advocating equal pay for their members at this time.[59]

A turning point for the campaign was in 1946 when the New Zealand Labour government made the family allowance universal rather than means tested.[60] As outlined earlier, until this point it was widely believed male wages should assume that men were the breadwinners in the household. Making the family allowance universal removed a significant barrier in arguing for rate for the job and ending wage discrimination based on gender.

Another significant step in the public service was when the PSA successfully campaigned to allow women to have permanent roles in the public service.[61] At this time, Rona Bailey and Kath Ross had been elected representatives to the PSA national executive.[62] These two had been active on the PSA Women’s subcommittee set up in 1943 along with Mary Boyd and a number of other women who became active at the time. This subcommittee engaged in regular meetings and surveys of women members in the service, which increased pressure on the PSA executive to be stronger advocates for their women members. Rona Bailey cites the change in PSA leadership, and specifically that Jack Lewin was elected PSA President in 1946, as shifting the PSA to take a stronger position on women’s issues.[63] He was at the centre of a group of young activists, known as the Korero, who increasingly challenged the leadership’s deferential attitude to the government and the public service commissioner.[64] In 1952 at the height of the cold war his Korero grouping were accused of being a communist front organisation. In subsequent executive elections Lewin and the Korero group were defeated by what Lewin claimed were National Party supporters.[65]

Women involved with the PSA equal pay campaign in the 1940s looked overseas for ideas on how to successfully promote the cause. Canada was viewed by New Zealand equal pay campaigners as a country that had made significant advances in the cause. In May 1944, Helen Harrison, Secretary of the NZ PSA women’s committee, wrote to the Canadian High Commission about women civil service employees.[66] In a detailed response the High Commission explained that under the Canadian Civil Service Act of 1927 there were no formal differences in pay grades for men and women.[67] This was in contrast to New Zealand where there were salary bars for women in the public service. However, during the Second World War the Canadian National War Labour Board was established to set wages.[68] This board set a lower minimum rate for women employed on government contracts.[69]  The justification for this was that Canada, like most other countries, had increased numbers of women entering the workforce but women were not as experienced or productive as male workers.[70]

Universal family allowances and inclusion of women as permanent members of the Public Service removed two major obstacles to equal pay in New Zealand. In New Zealand and Australia, there were still powerful ideological and institutional obstacles to overcome. Unions would continue to use Arbitration Courts and the public sector equivalents to highlight the issue of equal pay in the 1950s. International developments at the ILO strengthened arguments for equal pay.

[1] WB Sutch Poverty and Progress in New Zealand AH & AW Reed 1969

[2] Nolan 25

[3] Nolan 25

[4] Nolan 25

[5] Arthur Sullivan and Steven M Sheffrin Economics: Principles in action. Pearson Prentice Hall 2003 324

[6] Robin Ingram The Politics of Patriarchy: The response of capital and organised labour to the movement of women into the paid workforce Auckland University 1988  205

[7] Ingram 205

[8] Cybele Locke Workers in the Margins Bridget Williams Books 2012 51

[9] Marilyn Lake The Independence of Women and the Brotherhood of Man: Debates in the Labour Movement over Equal Pay and Motherhood Endowment in the 1920s Labour History number 63, November 1992 9

[10] Nolan 22

[11] Stephen Robertson Women, Work and the New Zealand Arbitration Court 1894-1920 Labour History, Number 61, November 1991 30

[12] Robertson 33

[13] Robertson 34

[14] Barbara Brookes A History of New Zealand Women Bridget Williams Books 2016

[15] Tim Frank Bread Queues and Breadwinners: Gender in the 1930s in The Gendered Kiwi, Auckland University Press 1999

[16] Burt Roth Remedy for Present Evils: A history of the New Zealand Public Service Association from 1890 New Zealand Public Service Association 1984

[17] Nolan 238

[18] Nolan 235

[19] Nolan 235

[20] Nolan 234

[21] Ralene Frances and Melanie Nolan Gender and the Trans-Tasman World of Labour: Transnational and Comparative Histories Labour History Number 95 November 2008 29

[22] Frances and Nolan 29

[23] Frances and Nolan 29

[24] Nolan 30

[25] Frances and Nolan 29

[26] Kath Williams The Unions and the fight for equal pay Melbourne 2001 75

[27] Deborah Montgomerie Man-powering Women: Industrial Conscription during the Second World War Women in History 2 1992 184

[28] Montgomerie 188

[29] Montgomerie 186

[30] Harold L Smith The Womanpower Problem in Britain during the Second World War The Historical Journal Volume 27, Number 4 1984 929

[31] Harold L Smith The Womanpower Problem in Britain during the Second World War The Historical Journal Volume 27, Number 4 1984 935

[32] Harold L Smith The Womanpower Problem in Britain during the Second World War The Historical Journal Volume 27, Number 4 1984 935

[33] Corner 22

[34] Nolan 235

[35] Mary Boyd, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38,  August 9 1985

[36] Mary Boyd, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38,  August 9 1985

[37] Mary Boyd, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38,  August 9 1985

[38] Mary Boyd The Case for Equal Pay for Equal Work Women’s Consultative Committee, 4 April 1944

[39] Nolan 235

[40] Nolan 235

[41] Patmore 173

[42] Patmore 177

[43] Williams 79

[44] Patmore 177

[45] Sheridan and Stretton 136

[46] Sheridan and Stretton 136

[47] Williams 81

[48] Sheridan and Stretton 135

[49] Ingram 235

[50] Ingram 235

[51] Sheridan and Stretton 135

[52] Mary Boyd, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38,  August 9 1985

[53] Williams 103

[54] Harold Smith The Problem of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” in Great Britain during World War II The Journal of Modern History Volume 53 Number 4 1981

[55] Ingram 224

[56] Ingram 230

[57] Ingram 229

[58] Ingram 231

[59] Mary Boyd, interviewed by Alison Lash, epcas 38, series 38,  August 9 1985

[60] Nolan 235

[61] Trevor Richards interview with Cath Kelly and Margaret Long for special Journal lift out 1986

[62] Corner 25

[63] Corner 25

[64] Colin Hicks. Lewin, John Philip from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 5-Nov-2013  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/5l9/lewin-john-philip

[65] Roth 130

[66] Correspondence Helen Harrison to Canadian High Commission, May 1944

[67] Correspondence Canadian High Commission to NZ PSA, May 1944

[68] Niemann 37

[69] Niemann 38

[70] Niemann 38

Introduction to my History Honours dissertation on the 1950s equal pay Campaign

Introduction

In 1956 the New Zealand Public Service Association (PSA), as part of its campaign for equal pay, used litigation to promote the cause. The central question under investigation is how did this use of litigation compare to contemporary campaigns in Australia and the United Kingdom? This essay studies the equal pay campaigns in these three jurisdictions up to 1960. It explores the role litigation played in equal pay campaigns, looking at both similarities and differences in the way that this campaign tool was used. Specifically it examines the 1956 Parker case taken by the PSA in 1956. In this case the PSA used litigation to challenge gender pay discrimination in the New Zealand public service. This case is then compared with litigation in the two other jurisdictions.

The end goal for the equal pay campaigns was described as ‘rate for the job’. This meant that a role should be paid at a certain rate, and the salary band or rate should not be different for male or female workers. This compared two workers doing the same job and did not look more broadly at different jobs that were of equal value. For campaigns like that being promoted by the PSA in the 1950s, the focus was on abolishing the lower salary bars for women, and having a system where a job had one wage or salary rate regardless of gender. Those involved with the campaign believed a broader call for equal pay for work of equal value would have struggled to get any traction within conservative 1950s society. Many still believed women’s place was in the home rather than at work once they were married. During this period, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) passed a convention which went further and called for work of equal value to be paid the same. This raises the question of whether the social values held in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom were more conservative than other countries during this period. The ILO Conventions and other nations’ moves towards equal pay place these three campaigns in a global context, during a time when demands for equal pay for women were becoming louder.

The New Zealand campaign paid close attention to international developments. The PSA would often report on international developments where moves were made towards equal pay for women. The PSA’s own campaign used litigation, the most notable being the Parker case taken in 1956. In this case the PSA went to the Public Service Appeal Board to challenge female salary caps in the public service. Other historians have looked at this case in the context of the New Zealand campaign in the 1950s, leading up to equal pay legislation in the 1960.

Margaret Corner’s No Easy Victory: Towards Equal Pay for Women in the Government Service 1890-1960 gives an overview of the PSA campaign for equal pay. Specifically it details the early calls for equal pay not long after the union was founded, and how these calls increased as women entered the public service in greater numbers throughout the Second World War. The 1956 Parker case is described as a turning point in the New Zealand Equal Pay movement.[1] This was due to increased public support for equal pay after this case. Corner then discusses the political impact of the PSA taking litigation on behalf of Parker, arguing this action eventually led to the 1960 legislation.

Bert Roth’s Remedy for Present Evils draws similar conclusions to Corner about the significance of the Parker litigation. Roth places the 1950s equal pay campaign in the context of the overall development of the PSA as a union. The Parker litigation and the equal pay campaign are the subject of Roth’s chapter dealing with the 1950s.

Megan Cook’s Gender and Paid work in New Zealand, 1950 to 1972 places the New Zealand campaign within the global equal pay movement in her introduction. Specifically Cook mentions the 1955 moves towards equal pay in the British Civil Service, and the New South Wales equal pay amendment to that states Industrial Arbitration Act in 1958.[2] Cook’s main thesis is about the political campaigns in New Zealand. Specifically Cook explores the reluctance of both Labour and National to implement equal pay measures in the 1950s.[3]

Melanie Nolan’s Breadwinning: New Zealand women and the state builds on the work of Corner and Roth. Nolan explores social attitudes to gender and labour relations and how these influenced the campaign. Specifically the ideology of the male breadwinner wage where men’s income was expected to support a family. Nolan examines the PSA equal pay campaign from 1943 through to the 1960 equal pay legislation. The PSA followed the lead of its international sister organisations in calling for the government to implement the ILO equal pay convention, Nolan argues.[4]

W B Sutch’s Women with a cause, describes the New Zealand PSA’s role in the equal pay campaign as essential.[5] Sutch argues The ILO Convention 100 passed in 1951 calling for equal remuneration for men and women as a significant step for that organisation. Sutch does not access how the ILO or other international developments influenced the PSA or others campaigning for equal pay in New Zealand.

While not specifically mentioning the Parker case, Raelene Frances and Melanie Nolan’s Gender and the Trans-Tasman World of Labour compares social attitudes to gender and labour relations in New Zealand and Australia. This essay draws the conclusion that the two countries have similar economies and cultures and as a result have had comparable outcomes for female workers.[6] Frances and Nolan argue that when looking at the history of women and work the two countries have not been compared properly. Specifically on the equal pay issue they highlight that studies on equal pay face focussed on either New Zealand or Australia but not Australasia.[7]

Linda Hill’s Equal pay for equal value: The case for care workers gives the historical context of equal pay legislation. Hill begins by saying New Zealand women had been calling for equal pay since they gained the right to vote in 1893.[8]  The ILO Convention in 1951 is cited by Hill as providing impetus for women public servants in New Zealand to begin campaigning for equal pay.[9] This claim is not entirely accurate, as other events such as the equal pay developments in Britain had a far greater impact on New Zealand equal pay supporters.

Pragmatic Procrastination: Government, Unions and Equal Pay 1949-68 By Tom Sheridan and Pat Stretton examines how the political establishment in Australia for many years avoided calls for equal pay legislation. This essay describes how the Menzies government in 1951 claimed to support the principle of equal pay. The Menzies government abstained on the ILO equal pay convention, not wanting to commit to something that could be used against it by the equal pay campaign.[10] The essay also studies the increasing calls for equal pay from within the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) from the 1930s onwards. It outlines the events leading up to the New South Wales (NSW) state government equal pay legislation in 1958. Sheriden and Stretton also assess efforts to get equal pay campaigns in other Australian states in 1950s, and how these struggled to gain support.

Brandon Ellem’s Women’s Rights and Industrial Relations under the Postwar Compact Australia explores the greater movement of women into the workforce in the first half of the 20th Century. Ellem explains how during the Second World War increased calls for equal pay for women exposed the conflicting views with the trade union movement on this issue. Many union leaders at this time supported equal pay only as a mechanism to protect male wages. Ellem’s conclusion compares Australia to other industrialised countries as having increased female participation in the paid work force.[11]

Raymond Markey’s Organisational Consolidation and Unionateness in the NSW Public Service Association 1899 – 1939 studies the development of this organisation. The NSW Public Service Association consistently lobbied for equal pay for women and in 1915 a women’s organising committee was formed.[12] This is similar to the New Zealand PSA who first took a position in favour of equal pay for women in 1914, though no mention of this is made by Markey. Studies of the Australian equal pay campaign say little about the influences of international campaigns occurring at the same time.

Harold L Smith has written much on the topic of the British equal pay movement. His work British feminism and the equal pay issue in the 1930s gives an overview of the feminists lead the equal pay campaign in 1930s. Smith rebuts claims that the feminist movement became moribund after the 1920s in Britain, citing the 1930 equal pay campaign for civil servants as evidence of it still functioning. In 1936 a vote in the House of Commons for equal pay in the civil service narrowly passed, only to be reversed by the government a short time later.

Smith’s essay The Womanpower Problem in Britain during the Second World War, assesses how women entering the workforce in the Second World War further built the movement for equal pay in Britain. Smith goes into more detail in The Problem of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” in Great Britain during World War II. Smith outlines how increasingly unions and women who had been required by the government to work demanded the same wages as men.

In Smith’s The Politics of Conservative Reform: The Equal Pay for Equal Work Issue 1945-1955 explores the political response to growing calls for equal pay after the Second World War. This outlines how both Labour and Conservative Party’s in government were reluctant to progress the equal pay issue. By 1955 the Conservative Government, as a result of growing public pressure, did introduce equal pay for the Civil Service. Smith talks a great deal about the campaign in Britain, but says little about how international influenced this. Nor does Smith say much about how developments in Britain influenced the campaigns in New Zealand, Australia or elsewhere.

This dissertation will build on the concept of international comparative histories and compares the use of litigation as part of the equal pay campaigns up to 1960 in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. These countries have been chosen due to their similar political institutions and their relationship as Commonwealth countries. This study will explore these campaigns and how the New Zealand equal pay movement was influenced and inspired by Australian and British campaigns. The frameworks for industrial relations in these countries were similar during this period, as were the social attitudes and politics. The dissertation will look at the development of equal pay campaigns in the decades leading up to the 1950s.

Specifically it studies the impact of women entering the workforce in increasing numbers during the 1930s depression and further during the Second World War. It studies the impact of the ILO moves to implement international conventions regarding equal pay, and how this impacted the New Zealand campaign’s use of litigation. From there it assesses the New Zealand Parker case and whether similar strategic litigation was used in Britain or Australia. It assesses the role litigation played as leverage to bring about political change.  Oral histories from those involved with the PSA equal pay campaign, along with PSA journals and other PSA publications are studied as part of this research. Finally, the dissertation will explore the political responses to litigation as part of the wider equal pay campaign during this period. Parliamentary Debates, media report, interviews with PSA activists and PSA publications have been used in this research.

[1] Margaret Corner No Easy Victory Public Service Association, Wellington, 1988 49

[2] Megan Cook Gender and Paid Work in New Zealand, 1950 to 1972 Otago University, February 2000 15

[3] Cook 80

[4] Melanie Nolan Breadwinning: New Zealand women and the state Canterbury University Press 236

[5] W B Sutch Women with a cause New Zealand University Press 1974 125

[6] Ralene Frances and Melanie Nolan Gender and the Trans-Tasman World of Labour: Transnational and Comparative Histories Labour History Number 95 November 2008 36

[7] Frances and Nolan 26

[8] Linda Hill Equal pay for equal value: The case for care workers Women’s Studies Journal, Volume 27 Number 2, December 2013

[9] Hill 15

[10] Sheridan & Stretton Pragmatic Procrastination: Governments, Unions, and Equal Pay 1949 -68 Labour History number 94 May 2008 135

[11] Brandon Ellem Women’s Rights and Industrial Relations Under the Post-war Compact in Australia University of Sydney 1999 61

[12] Raymond Markey Organisational Consolidation and Unionateness in the NSW Public Service Association 1899-1939 Labour History number 99, November 2010 105