15 months in London

There has been a bit of gap between posts to this blog lately. This isn’t due to a lack of things to say or write about, but due to being busy with work – a problem I have been very grateful to have.

Yesterday marked 15 months since I moved to London. Its now also roughly a year since I started this blog. My first post on this blog referenced Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why.’ This and subsequent posts were me being reflective of where I was and how I got there – and why. From there the blog posts explored my background, including my first campaign at school, and my involvement in politics. Then later my involvement in the Students’ Association and election to leadership roles there.

I’ve also written about current events and topics of the day. These include President Trump, US gun control, the housing crisis in NZ and the UK, and the English council election in May. 

Its not all been politics and social comment on this blog. I’ve done a series of walks through London using my 1980s AA guide book – of which I have now done 11/12 (the last one is coming soon.

In the New Year I will continue the series of self reflective posts. Specifically I will be writing about my time in the Trade Union movement. Those who know me will realise I will have plenty to say on this – and what I think the future holds for organised labour.

Talking about the past is important, and I think reflecting on where you have come from helps you understand where you are and where you are going. Increasingly though, I see this blog focussing more on talking about the future – both mine and society as a whole.

The past 15 months have for me been about establishing myself and my business in London. When I started this blog I’d been in the country a few weeks and much of my time was focused on setting up the basics (bank accounts etc). I was still setting up a UK company heavily based on the model used by the NZ parent company Piko NZ. Piko in NZ is primarily a campaigns and government relations business. My colleagues in NZ have complimentary and in many cases overlapping skill sets and this worked well there. Coming to London, where there is a larger pool of talent, a greater degree of specialisation (something I have already commented on here) and a different market with different needs. The last 15 months have been a journey of me digging deep to see what my strengths and skills really are, and how I use these best to my advantage in London. I haven’t written much about this on my blog, as I feel it best to reflect upon things first then write later. Needless to say 2018 has been a year of significant pivoting and change for me – and I look forward to sharing my reflections in 2019.

As I write this the UK political establishment is in turmoil, trying to manage the Brexit negotiations. It is far from clear what will happen as of today – in fact it feels like anything could happen. I have plenty to say about this and plan to write my thoughts over the next few days. For now I will just say that its an interesting, nervous, exciting and unpredictable time – and I am very glad to be here.

More soon….


Walk 9: The heart of the City

This is the 9th walk from the 1980s AA guidebook. This one started and finished at Bank station and passes through the financial centre of London. This was was done 20/10/2018.

Walk 9: Heart of the City

The first stop was The London Stone – said to be the milestone from which distances were measured on military roads in Roman London. The stone is still on display but is not very prominent.

The next two stops were Laurence Pountney Hill and The Old Wine Shades. The former some great example of early 18th century London Houses, the latter sadly shut when I walked past. The Old Wine Shades survived both the great fire and the blitz.

The Old London Shades

Next was the Monument, designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hook as a monument to the great fire of London and erected in 1671-7. The views from this monument of central London are really good.

After this I walked past Billingsgate where the old fish market used to be.

From here the tour proceeded to the Tiger Tavern. According to the 1980s guide:

Although rebuilt in this century, this tavern’s history stretches back over 400 years. Every ten years, the lord mayor, sheriffs and aldermen of London take part in an unusual beer testing ceremony here. A sample of the beer is poured on a stool provided by the official tester, and he then sits on it. If his trousers stick to the seat (and they always do), then the beer is pronounced to be of acceptable quality. 

After spending a considerable amount of time trying to find this tavern, google eventually told me that this tavern having survived the great fire and the blitz, could not withstand 21st century development and has now closed. In the UK many of the the old pubs are at risk with many closing each year.

After this sad news I proceeded onto the famous Tower of London. First the tour took me too The Tower Subway, 19th century engineering achievement as the first underground railway tunnel under the Thames.

The tower is one of London’s main tourist attractions. Built by Edward I, it is famous for being where princess Elizabeth was imprisoned in the Bell Tower.

From here the walk took me to the Trinity Square Gardens opposite the Tower. This square was the site of public executions until the 17th century.

Next the walk went up Seething Lane, where diarist Samuel Pepys worked. The church here has skulls on its gateway which Charles Dickens refers to in one of his works.

From here the walk took me to the disused Aldgate Pump. The water was believed to have efficacious qualities. The pump is now disused.

Next to this was The Sir John Cass charity school established in 1710.

After this I passed Bevis Marks Synagogue, the oldest Synagogue in England.

The walk then took me past “the enormous National Westminster Bank.” This building was bombed by the IRA in 1992 after this guide book was published. This is now the site of The Gherkin .

Next to this is St Helen’s Church, which dates back to the 12 century.

The final stop before returning to bank was the Simpson’s Tavern, sadly also closed when I walked past.

The walk then took me past the Stock Exchange and the Bank of England to Bank station.

Walk 11: The Highways and Byways of Chelsea

The 11th walk from the 1980s AA guidebook was around Chelsea. I did this on Wednesday 22 August 2018, commencing at Sloane Square.

Walk 11

The first stop on this walk was the Royal Hospital. This institution was founded by Charles II in 1682 and designed by Christopher Wren. For a number of years the hospital has housed army pensioners. This is also the site of the famous Chelsea Flower Show.

Next to the hospital is the Ranelagh Gardens, site of the 18th century Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens, which closed in 1804.

From here the walk took me down to the Physic Gardens via Swan Walk. The 1980s guidebook says these gardens are not open to the public. In 2018 the public can now look around for a small fee.


Ticket office for the Physic Gardens

Following this the walk heads down to Cheyne Walk, where ‘famous persons’ such as George Eliot lived. Also the site of Henry VIII’s manor house, at the time Chelsea was  a country village out of London.

From here I turned a right into Cheyne Row.

Cheyne Row

Historian Thomas Carlyle lived at number 24 Cheyne Row. This is now a National Trust building, so being a member I had a quick look through.

From here I proceeded to Lawrence Street, the site where Chelsea China was manufactured from 1745 to 1784.

From here the walk took me down to the Chelsea old Church and Crosby Hall. In front of this is a statue of Sir Thomas More, near where he used to live.

The walk then took me past The Rectory where Charles Kingsley the author of The Water Babies once lived. The book says this house is ‘undistinguished’ and it was.

The Rectory

Then the walk took me down King’s Road, once the private carriage route for Charles II, now a busy London thoroughfare.

The final stop on the tour was the Royal Avenue, designed by Christopher Wren to link The Royal Hospital with Kensington Palace. This was never finished, but the section that remains was completed in 1694.

Not included in the 1980s guide book, but on the way back to Sloane Square is the Saatchi Gallery. This opened in 1985, possibly after publication of this book.


Remembering Chris Morley

Originally posted on The Standard 

Chris Morley June 2017
Chris Morley, Vice-President of the Wellington Tramways Union, addressing a protest rally outside a Greater Wellington Regional Council meeting 28 June 2017. Chris told those present drivers would not accept cuts to their pay and conditions.

On Friday 27 July 2018, Wellington Tramways Union Vice President Chris Morley passed away after a short battle with Cancer, aged 62. Chris had been a Wellington bus driver since 1978, when public transport in the city was run and controlled by Wellington City Council.

In 2008 I was privileged to be elected to the Tramways Union executive with Chris Morley and Kevin O’Sullivan. Chris was one of the hardest working and dedicated union leaders you could wish to work with. He was also a good friend, who had always had my back.

I made the following video tribute for Chris when he passed away.

Chris wrote for The Standard in 2017, in two articles defending Wellington’s Trolley Bus network and arguing that light rail was not a suitable alternative to Trollies in the Capital:

Wellington’s Trolley Buses – why they should stay


Light Rail no Panacea for Wellington transport


The Wellington Tramways Union have been at the vanguard of resistance to Neo Liberalism and attacks on public transport and workers rights since the 1980s. As I summarised in an earlier Standard Post when public transport was deregulated in the late 1980s and privatised in the early 1990s, the union held on to penalty rates and other valuable conditions from the old Tramways Union Award. Penalty rates meant drivers received time and a half for working over 8 hours and for working Saturdays, and double time for working Sunday’s. To quote Chris, these conditions allowed drivers control over what they worked, when they worked it and how they worked it. Drivers were given transport to work when they started or finished at unsociable hours when transport wasn’t running. In exchange for keeping these conditions Wellington bus drivers took a $1 an hour pay cut in 1991, but retained greater weekly earnings to bus drivers in other NZ cities where they gave away penalty rates and transport agreements for a higher hourly rate (a lesson for all unionists about the importance of conditions).

The Wellington Tramways Union held on to these conditions by remaining fully unionised, and by fighting off attempts to remove penalty rates by the employer and the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). Another reason these conditions were defended, was that the trolley bus network (the last remaining network in Australasia, though still common to see in Europe and other parts of the world) gave the Wellington bus company a monopoly. This made it difficult for competitors to take work off Stagecoach and later NZ Bus, by undercutting on price during tendering then paying drivers less to pay for it.

The decision by GWRC in 2016 to remove the Trolley network, was to allow competitors into the Wellington bus network. Competition would drive drivers conditions and would be cheaper for council – which was the true motivation of Chris Laidlaw, Paul Swain, Wayne Hastie and co at GWRC.

Chris Morley fought to the very last days of his life to defend both the Trolley Bus network and drivers pay, conditions and jobs. In one of his last conversations to me he said the stress of the last couple of years had likely contributed to him getting cancer. Chris’s career as a Wellington bus driver ended in July 2018, Chris being made redundant just days before he died.

Chris was a hero of the Trade Union movement, who fought for workers rights till his final breath. The greatest tribute we can pay to Chris is to stop the attacks by GWRC and Tranzit on drivers conditions of employment.

To find out more visit the Thank You Driver page and support the campaign Chris worked so hard for throughout his life. RIP Chris.

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 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

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