Conclusion and Bibliography (History Honours dissertation)


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]



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



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

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

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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