"A laboratory or a battleground of democracy?”

Published: Mon 10 Nov 2003 11:48 AM
“A laboratory or a battleground of democracy?” A seminar on the 1913 General Strike: Saturday 22 November 2003, PSA House, Aurora Terrace, Wellington
The Trade Union History Project (TUHP) seminar for 2003 marks the 90th anniversary of the 1913 General Strike.
The General Strike is a largely forgotten but very colourful part of New Zealand’s history. There were violent clashes between strikers and special constables in Auckland and Wellington and revolver fire was exchanged in one major confrontation in Taranaki Street. For several weeks Wellington experienced what Sir Joseph Ward, the Leader of the Opposition, called ‘a system of Mexican revolt and civil war’.
1913 has been overshadowed by the 1951 waterfront lockout. However as James Belich has pointed out, ‘1913 involved a much higher proportion of the workforce, the strikers had more allies and the conflict was much more violent and genuinely threatening to the established system.’
Two of NZ’s best known historians – Miles Fairburn and Erik Olssen – will take part in the seminar along with labour and police historians and recent graduates who have carried out valuable new research on 1913.
The seminar will include two keynote speeches. Most of the presentations will be through panel discussions. There will be ample opportunity for discussion from the floor. The seminar will also include contemporary film, oral histories from participants and an exhibition of cartoons and photographs.
Programme: 8.30am Registration 9.30am Welcome by TUHP chair David Grant followed by showing of contemporary film. 9.50am Keynote Address: Erik Olssen. Setting the Scene. Chair: David Grant 10.25am Morning tea 10.45am Panel discussion on Overview of the Strike. James McAloon, Miles Fairburn, Erik Olssen. Chair: Pat Walsh. 11.45am Panel discussion on Special Constables and Policing of the Strike. Cathy Casey, John Crawford, Mark Derby, Richard Hill, Sherwood Young. Chair: Colin Hicks. 1.00pm Lunch 1.45pm Panel discussion on Workers and the Community. Donald Anderson, Peter Franks, Melanie Nolan. Chair: Maureen Birchfield 2.45pm Keynote Address: James Taylor. Representations of the Strike. Chair: Jock Phillips 3.15pm Afternoon Tea 3.45pm Panel discussion on Legacy of 1913. Miles Fairburn, James McAloon, Erik Olssen, Kerry Taylor. Chair: Peter Franks. 5.00pm Conclusion and drinks
How to Register: Registration for the seminar costs $30 (waged) or $20 (unwaged) which includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. To register please send details of your name and address, with a cheque made out to the Trade Union History Project to: 1913 Seminar Trade Union History Project PO BOX 27-425 Wellington Alternatively, late registrations will be possible on the morning of the seminar.
For further inquiries about seminar registration contact: Hilary McGeachy Email: HYPERLINK "" Ph: 021 2548 515
For more information about the history of the strike contact: Dr Richard Hill Email: HYPERLINK "" Ph: 04 463 5530
Contemporary photographs, scanned cartoons and newspaper headlines are available on request from: James Taylor Email: HYPERLINK "" Ph: 04 475 7014
Acknowledgements: The TUHP appreciates the assistance it has received from the Industrial Relations Centre (Victoria University), PSIS Ltd., and the PSA in holding the seminar.
About the TUHP: The TUHP was formed in 1987 by trade unionists and working people interested in history, together with several academics to document the history of trade unions and working people in New Zealand. We are now entering our sixteenth successful year of existence, sustained by the voluntary contributions of keen enthusiasts, and by continuing financial contributions from members, unions and other organisations.
The TUHP has published a number of books, films and documentaries on different aspects of labour history, and since its inception has undertaken a continuing programme of oral history recordings of older union officials and members of their families. This exercise become more important as time passes. The TUHP has also organised labour history festivals, exhibitions of union and labour art, memorabilia and photography, as well as organising seminars. Our last one, in 2001, was a highly successful conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Lockout.
Other TUHP products and activities have included a regular newsletter, calendars, postcards, flags, banners, and posters. In addition, we have offered assistance to unions, libraries and museums to enable the preservation and orderly assembling of records, files and photographs and other labour movement material. The TUHP offers financial grants for projects related to its concerns, and a number of these have been funded in six monthly research and publication grants. As many applications as possible are encouraged. These grants are one of the most important means the TUHP has of furthering its aims. Application forms and criteria for grants are available from either the Chairperson or the Secretary. Further inquiries about TUHP activities and membership subscription ($20.00 annually) can be made to the post-office box address above.

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