Labour History

The New Zealand Northern Drivers’ Union: Trade Union Anti-Racism Work, 1937-80

Labour History (2021), 120, (1), 21–47.

Abstract

In 1960, the Northern Drivers’ Union of New Zealand instituted its anti-racism policy. How this came about, and what it meant for union struggles in the following two decades, are the central concerns of this article. Effectively, the implementation of democratic organising principles within the Northern Drivers’ Union assisted the formation of anti-racism policy and practice. Union officials linked domestic racism with the experiences of black workers under apartheid in South Africa from 1960, which generated calls for a boycott of South Africa and local support for the Citizens’ Association for Racial Equality. Anti-apartheid sentiment in relation to South African rugby tours, which had galvanised unionists in the 1960s, became a source of division by the 1970s as attention turned to more “local” experiences of racism. In particular, this article considers how Māori rank and file, working together with Pākehā union officials such as communist Bill Andersen, extended trade union anti-racism work across the northern regions of the country, especially Auckland.

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Author details

Locke, Cybèle