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Gender and the trans-Tasman world of labour: transnational and comparative histories.

With some exceptions the striking similarities of labour history in Australia and New Zealand have traditionally been examined through the lens of separate national narratives. More recently, however, we have witnessed a recovery of the 'trans-Tasman world of labour'. Such historical analysis has enabled the emergence of significant insights into the parallel development of labour market legislation, policy formation and wage fixation. This article charts the shared gendered experience of the labour movement between Australia and New Zealand and focuses, in particular, on equal pay. We argue that attempts to tell national stories in these two countries will be enriched by an appreciation not just of the trans-Tasman context and influences, but also of the ways in which workers have mobilised at the international level.


Since the publication of Common Cause, a collection of essays edited by Eric Fry, there has been a steady trickle of interest in the shared history of labour in Australia and New Zealand. (1) Francis Castles, Donald Denoon, Raelene Frances, Bruce Scates and James Bennett, amongst others, rediscovered a 'trans-Tasman world of labour'. (2) This work has highlighted the urban occupational profile of Australia and New Zealand, which were both 'born modern'. While Australia was slightly ahead of New Zealand in rates of urbanisation, both had highly literate and relatively well-paid workforces. (3) Both democracies had high unionisation rates and strong labour movements. (4) Differences were of degree, not of kind: the impact of the Great Depression of the 1930s was shorter and sharper in Australia; New Zealand had a more marked labour shortage than Australia, which propelled more radical change in the post-war period. (5) While labour flowed from New Zealand to Australia in the late twentieth century, it had been the reverse at the beginning of the century. (6) Recent work on Australasia emphasises that shared language, culture, institutions and historical ties facilitated policy learning and transfer between New Zealand and Australia, especially at the level of key policymakers. However, in all the work to date on trans-Tasman labour there have been only a few examples of historiographical comparison considering gender. Bruce Scates has examined the common gendered experience during the Depression in the 1890s. (7) Shaun Goldfinch and Philippa Mein Smith have elaborated on the policy transfer of arbitration across the colonies, including the male breadwinner model. (8) Melanie Nolan has considered the united front that the post-war Labor governments took to effect full employment policies locally and nationally and the limits to those policies as the proportion of married women in paid employment rose. (9) Raelene Frances has surveyed wage-fixing more generally in twentieth century Australasia. (10)

Despite these exceptions, the general trend has been for two separate, national narratives on New Zealand and Australia setting out the gender and labour contours in each case. (11) For instance, there are New Zealand and Australian scholarly studies on sweating, but no overall accounts of the common sweating furore in Australia and New Zealand (and Britain). (12) There is work on the male breadwinner wage but no regional history of breadwinning or protective labour legislation. (13) Equal pay provides a particularly vivid case in point. There have been studies on equal pay in Australia and New Zealand but not of Australasia. (14) Margaret Corner, Nan Taylor and Roberta Nicholls argued for the critical importance of the 'pressure politics' of the New Zealand Public Service Association (PSA) for New Zealand. (15) Similarly, Edna Ryan and Anne Conlon, Greg Patmore and Zelda D'Aprano discussed the crucial role of the New South Wales Teachers Federation's equal pay campaign in Australia. (16) These historians tell very similar tales, despite differences in detail.

There has thus been a great deal of parallel research charting common phases, similar turning points and identical historiographical themes. This article draws together these two national narratives and explores the interconnections between them. New Zealand and Australia represent a natural subject for a comparative and transnational study of gendered labour relations, not just because of their physical proximity but also because of the synchronisation in their social institutions and political legislation. (17)

It is relatively easy to survey the common Australasian labour history in terms of gender and labour. At the centre of this shared experience is the unique state-instituted arbitration system that was established in New Zealand in 1894, and in Australia at both state and federal levels by 1916. (18) Post-war full employment for white males was achieved through controlled immigration, import restrictions and tariff protection. The wage-earners' welfare state assumed women's domesticity. Both countries had low rates of married women in paid employment up to the 1960s compared to other industrialised capitalist countries. (19) Both countries achieved equal pay at around the same time--for public service women in the late 1950s and for private sector workers in the early 1970s. (20) Although women now make up almost half the workers in each country, they are conspicuous among OECD countries for the continued degree of occupational segregation in the labour market, and for the high percentage of women being in part-time work. (21) Until 2002 New Zealand and Australia joined the United States as the only OECD countries not offering paid parental leave. Labour movements in both countries shared 'blind spots' in their egalitarian agenda on gender and race issues. (22)

Table 1 summarises the four major points where the history of women's wage labour coincided in both Australia and New Zealand. (23)

There are also major points of difference between the New Zealand and Australian labour experience. For instance, and as others have pointed out, while the 1991 ECA reform introduced in New Zealand by Jim Bolger's National Government has resonance with the Australian 2005 Work Choices legislation introduced by Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, the ECA extended grievance rights (that is, personal grievances and minimum rights) to all workers and also strengthened the legislative minimum code in a way that Work Choices did not. Other historical differences are more wide-ranging: the foundational cultures revolved around the use of convicts in Australia compared to more exclusively free labour in New Zealand; New Zealand's was a family farm economy more than Australia's pastoral wage-labour economy; the integration of Maori into the labour market after World War II was more comprehensive than it has ever been for Aboriginals. There are also differences between the New Zealand and Australian gendered labour experience. Women's paid employment experience was more extensive in urban Australia than New Zealand which urbanised a little later; Aboriginal women were involved in domestic work in a way that Maori women were not, and so on.

The differences are significant; however, in the longer perspective these should not be exaggerated. Where comparisons between Australia and Canada might quite rightly focus on explaining divergence, the Australian and New Zealand case study seems to beg explanations for similarities in the regional experience. (24) In particular, a consideration of trans-Tasman history puts the spotlight on two general aspects of Australasian labour history. Firstly, it indicates the comparative strength of the male breadwinner society. This is well known; however, it also shows that male breadwinner societies offered a level of protection to women workers that was not enjoyed by their counterparts in societies without an arbitration system. (25) Secondly, it indicates the strength of male labour in societies with high incomes and political participation that was derived from their position in extractive economies. This is also well known, but it shows that in the post-war period, as United Nations (UN) reports demonstrate, the strength of male labour had spin-offs for women in Australia and New Zealand. Australasian women were among those in the world closest to achieving income equality with men, and they also achieved significant levels of equality in terms of political and economic participation. (26)

A comparison between social and political developments in both countries highlights this shared experience, but it also points to other ways of exploring trans-Tasman history. As this article suggests, parallel developments were neither simply coincidental nor determined by similar economies, but derived, in part at least, from a sharing of people and ideas across national boundaries. This history was shared in another sense as people and organisations joined forces to shape a regional destiny and to attempt to influence developments on the international arena beyond the bounds of Australasia.

Male Breadwinner Countries and Implications for Female Labour

The gendered nature of labour relations in Australasia is reflected in the region's ideas and institutions. (27) Male breadwinning and its concomitant, female dependency--found in most industrialised capitalist countries from the late nineteenth century--seems to have been more pronounced in Australasia than elsewhere. (28) Anne Summers and Jock Phillips wrote best-selling accounts of this phenomenon describing Australia as a 'Manzone Country' and New Zealand as 'a Man's Country', denoting the dominance of a masculinist culture, evidenced in a marked sexual division of paid labour, the labour movement, and society as a whole. (29) John Gould argued that of all advanced capitalist countries, post-war New Zealand 'kept its women the most rigidly bound to house and to children'. (30) Similarly Miriam Dixson observed that Australian women were 'pretty close to top rating as the "Doormats of the Western World"'. (31) Viewed from outside, at least into the 1980s, the extent of gendered segregation and difference in the labour movement seems striking.

Of course we have known for some time of the importance of the male breadwinner culture in Australasia. Charles Bergquist's argument can be applied to New Zealand. (32) He has noted the importance of a compressed wage structure in many South American settler societies. The high value of unskilled labour derived from the extractive nature of the economies and the mobility--spatially and occupationally--of the population, was a fillip both to the male breadwinner system and female domesticity.

Francis Castles' comparative study similarly argues that Australia and New Zealand were male wage-earners' countries which embraced protective tariffs, centralised and compulsory wage-fixing, and a residual welfare state unique among western countries. (33) Their common geographical, economic, political and social history explains this shared development. They were 'residual' (as opposed to 'universal') in that the compulsory wage-fixing system--institutionalised in the two decades after 1894--delivered social protection through a minimum living wage, a relatively egalitarian and compressed wage structure with a high degree of uniformity in wage increases, and a relatively high standard of living.

A regional history illuminates the sheer strength and commitment to the male breadwinner in both Australia and New Zealand. In the wake of World War II, there was full male employment throughout the western world. However, Australia and New Zealand were conspicuous in their post-war international advocacy of a male breadwinner system. It depended on a political pledge for full male employment. (34) Clause 35(d) of the 1944 Australian-New Zealand Agreement included a resolution to cooperate 'in achieving full employment in Australia and New Zealand'. The two countries also declared they would cooperate in propagating the policy internationally; indeed it was their main overall aim or 'article of faith'. (35) And true to their word, Prime Minister Peter Fraser and his deputy Walter Nash for New Zealand, and External Affairs Minister H.V. Evatt for Australia, advocated the full employment policy in post-war international fora. Their advocacy was part of the reason why the objective of full (male) employment was written into the UN Charter, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Charter and the Monetary and Financial Conference (Bretton Woods) Agreement of 1944. (36) Fraser chaired the UN Economic and Social Council in 1944 and moved the full employment clause. He declared that 'for the average man the right to live depended on the right to work'. (37)

Most importantly, Australasia was seen to practice what its politicians preached. The Commonwealth Employment Service was committed to full employment. Similarly, the New Zealand Government's Employment Act 1945 established a National Employment Service 'for the purpose of promoting and maintaining full employment' and this purpose carried over to the Labour Department Act 1954. (38)

Australia and New Zealand were not the only countries urging a post-war full employment world but New Zealand and Australia came as close as any western countries to achieving 'pure' family wage or male breadwinning systems in the post-war years. The Australasian male breadwinner wage systems were at their peaks in the 1950s. (39) More men had full employment in the 1950s than at any time in Australia's and New Zealand's history. New Zealand had an unemployment rate that did not exceed 0.15 per cent in the 1950s; Australia's rate peaked at 2.2 per cent. A second measure of state success in promoting full male employment is women's related domesticity. Australasia had a conspicuously low rate of married women in paid employment: 9.7 per cent in 1951, which was less than half the 21.4 per cent for Britain and 23.2 per cent for the United States in 1951 and 1950 respectively. (40) John Murphy's work, based on interviews, suggests that
 [t]he breadwinner model became pervasive in the post-war years in
 Australia. While this was built upon long-standing policy ideas of
 the 'family wage' and cultural ideas of gender identity, the
 pervasiveness of the breadwinner model also reflected its spread
 within the working class as a consequence of the prosperity of Full
 Employment. (41)

Similarly, Jock Phillips has characterised New Zealand as a 'family man's country' on the same basis; 'the 1950s saw the triumph' of the New Zealand male breadwinner stereotype and female domesticity. (42)

At the same time, however, this system offered working women a degree of protection. The comparative analysis of women and wage labour in Australia and Canada undertaken by Raelene Frances, Linda Kealey and Joan Sangster in 1996 makes this point. (43) It was a comparison of two countries which differed in industrial relations systems. The research question was whether women were worse off under an arbitration system (as in Australia) compared to a largely unregulated wage-fixing system (as in Canada). They showed that Australian women on average were subject to less gross exploitation and victimisation than their Canadian sisters, and Australian women on average enjoyed better wages and conditions over time. Moreover, the existence of central arbitration in Australia meant that the equal pay decisions of the federal tribunal in 1969 and 1972 could be quickly translated into wage increases for women relative to men. The authors' findings confirm those of Bob Gregory and his co-authors, who compared the gender wage gap in Australia with that in Great Britain and the USA. In a series of articles they argued that the significant narrowing of the gap between average full-time female and male earnings in Australia and Great Britain between 1969 and 1976 (30 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively) was largely attributable to centralised wage-fixing systems. The highly decentralised environment of the USA produced no improvement in women's earnings relative to men's, despite the enactment of legislation promoting equal pay. Like Frances, Kealey and Sangster, Gregory et al also attributed this disparity largely to the different industrial relations institutions in the three countries. (44)

The extent of protection afforded women by the centralised system is made clearer by the impact enterprise bargaining and individual contracts have had on women's positions since the 1980s. There have been studies of the gender impact of the ECA in New Zealand. (45) These suggest that men received higher pay rises than women (although the increases were minimal because there was, in effect, a wage freeze in the early years of the ECA). Performance-based increases also had gender differentials. The studies also showed that women were more likely to be covered by employment contracts that did not contain overtime or penalty rates. A study by the National Distribution Union of the employment conditions of retail workers showed that where contracts lacked genuine collective bargaining provisions employers were able to alter hours unilaterally. Some contracts also illegally provided for automatic dismissal after a defined period of illness and instant dismissal for suspicion of theft. (46) A study by the Nurses Organisation showed that both public and private sector employers had used the ECA to minimise contract benefits and increase casualisation. (47) Furthermore, a survey of women members of the Service Workers Union found that around 80 per cent had suffered a wage freeze or wage cuts during the first two years of the ECA, not because hourly pay rates fell, but because of a reduction in, or abolition of, penalty and overtime rates. (48) Whereas the gap between female and male earnings had been gradually closing from the early 1970s until 1993, the ratio stabilised with the introduction of the ECA and women's full-time earnings actually declined slightly relative to men's between 1993 and 1997. (49) No wonder then that women were much more hostile to the ECA than men: 61 per cent were opposed, compared to 36 per cent of men. (50)

Shifts in the gender gap also occurred in Australia. After the initial rapid gains made by women in the 1970s, advances slowed in the 1980s. Australia moved away from centralised wage-fixing, beginning with the Federal Labor Government's Prices and Incomes Accords with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and continuing under the Coalition Government's more sweeping industrial relations reforms from 1996. Women have been clearly disadvantaged in relation to men under both individual and collective agreements. (51) Any narrowing of the wages gap stalled in the 1990s, despite increases in female human capital, and female fulltime average hourly earnings relative to males' actually declined by two percentage points between 1994 and 2004. (52)

Feminist historians have modified their earlier critical assessments of the arbitration system in the light of these recent developments. In the 1970s and 1980s, the arbitration system and unionism were generally considered unmitigated disasters for women. (53) When the New Zealand Court of Arbitration was abolished and the number of unions rapidly decreased around 1991, we find historians viewed both systems with more generosity than in the past. (54) More recent defences suggest instead that the court and unions could not have promoted gender equality in the context of their times; they could not have violated established practices, and the court, for its part, was under constant threat of abolition. (55) More than this, there was a revision by the 1990s which pointed out that early tribunals extended limited benefits for women by providing uniformity, allocated wages for some who had previously worked for nothing and set minimums higher than women had obtained previously. Far from the court being presented as a patriarchal oppressor, it was increasingly reconstructed as vital to future hopes of pay equity in both New Zealand and Australia. Pay equity could more easily be instituted in a centralised wage-fixing context. While not all feminists agreed, it was suggested that the hope of pay equity receded with the abolition of a centralised arbitration system. Its replacement was seen as hostile to the employment interests of women and as threatening the gains women had made in the past through trade unions and the arbitration system, particularly in the post-war period. (56) According to these revised assessments, while it was clear that men were privileged in the male breadwinner countries of Australasia, that same system, over time, also afforded some protection to women workers.

While it is possible to draw such broad generalisations at the level of the nation state, an examination of gender differences in earnings alerts us to the limitations of such country-to-country comparisons. New Zealand operates under a unitary industrial relations regime but in the federated nation of Australia, state institutions and economies continue to play an important role. As the work of Alison Preston and Geoff Crockett shows, aggregate figures on the gender gap conceal marked differences between states. In the two states that adopted more individualistic forms of bargaining prior to 1996 (Western Australia and Tasmania), the gender wage gap has deteriorated, producing a gap significantly wider than that in New South Wales which adopted a more collectivist system. This level of analysis, however, also confirms the general finding that the more individualistic and decentralised the industrial relations framework, the more female workers are disadvantaged. (57)

The Strength of the Male Labour Movement and Some Female Equality

The impact of labour institutions on women is neither simple nor unambiguous. Most commentators, from Karl Marx to Neville Kirk, have noted the strength of the male labour movement in Australasian society compared to Britain and the United States. (58) Much social history in Australia and New Zealand has concentrated upon the traditional 'workers', especially for the first part of the twentieth century. Stuart Macintyre noted that the labour movement recovered quickly from the employers' attacks of the 1890s to demonstrate 'extremely impressive and, comparatively speaking, precocious development', in terms of trade unionism, independent labour politics, working conditions, living standards and the establishment of a strong and predominantly class-based culture between the late 1890s and 1914. (59) Neville Kirk goes further; in Comrades and Cousins: Globalisation, Workers and Labour Movements in Britain, the USA and Australia from the 1880s to 1914, he stresses the comparative point that blue-collar and skilled workers 'took the feelings and conflicts of class to the very heart of 1900s Australian national life and politics' (he adds New Zealand from time to time), and he argued that the 'national imprint of workers and their organisations--on state structures and patterns of national culture and consciousness--was far more profound in Australia than in both Britain and the United States'. (60) Part of such analysis is the recognition of the marginalised status of women.

Whilst women's historical marginalisation within the labour movements of Australia and New Zealand is undeniable, the longer-term impact of this on their earnings and working conditions is arguably less clear (and less negative). While the dominance of men in the labour movements naturally privileged the fortunes of male breadwinners, female wages also benefited where higher wages for women coincided with the interests of male workers. For instance, there are many examples of male unionists successfully arguing for equal pay for women so as to protect male jobs. (61) The existence of a strong labour movement also had indirect positive consequences for female workers, despite the masculine bias of this movement. As we have seen in the case of the equal pay decisions of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the strength of the centralised wage-fixing system was that it was able to quickly translate these decisions into real advances for women's pay equity and the strength of the system was, in turn, a reflection of the historical strength of organised labour. Thus, a 1997 United Nations report, while observing that 'no society treats its women as well as its men', placed Australia and New Zealand among those countries with the highest overall rankings of gender equality in the world, with income and economic participation being prominent aspects of this evaluation. (62)

Shifting patterns of both male and female work have also emphasised the importance of female workers to the wider union movement and led to their increased incorporation, with benefits for female workers. There was an increase in the proportion of women in paid employment in nearly every New Zealand census from the 1870s onwards and this differs dramatically from the pattern in Britain. By 2005 women made up 47 per cent, or nearly half, of the workforce. But the pattern was bi-modal and the two phases had developed serially. The experience of paid work became normal for young single women between the 1870s and 1939. Most young women were not in paid employment in the 1870s but most were by World War II. At the same time there was a rise in the number of white-collar workers in general and white-collar feminisation in particular as the composition of the workforce shifted from male to female. Domestic service as an occupation collapsed around World War II and a double white-blouse revolution occurred, first with the rise of white-collar and then of professional employment for women. (63) The proportion of New Zealanders in the workforce recorded as clerks, sales and service workers grew to over 28 per cent by 2001. Women made up the vast majority of clerical workers. A similar pattern occurred in Australia and we see in both the development of a 'white-collar society'. (64)

The expansion of professional work was the other most significant occupational development of the late twentieth century. By 2001, 14.5 per cent of those in paid employment in New Zealand were professionals (not counting 'legislators, administrators and managers', many of whom would describe themselves as professionals). (65) In addition a relatively new category of 'associated professionals' or 'semi-professionals' emerged. (66) By 2001 nearly 12 per cent of all those in employment were associated professionals. (67) That is, 26 per cent were professionals or associated professionals. Similarly the number of Australians working as 'professional or associated professionals' rose from 2.9 per cent in the 1901 census to 30.21 per cent in the 2001 census. In both countries the proportion of women professionals rose from negligible rates to over half of the workforce in the same period. (68) Arguably, then, by the end of the twentieth century, nearly one in three workers was a professional or 'aspiring' professional and the professional ideal was significant in Australasia generally. (69)

The increasing importance of white-collar employment, and the high percentage of women in these occupations, has changed the gender dynamics of labour relations and the labour movement. Incorporating women and fostering more equal gender relations have become central to union strategy. The Australasian trade union movement was traditionally blue-collar, male and strong. It suffered a long period of decline in membership from the late 1970s. During that period labour's constituency changed in the gendered ways described above. The survival of the trade union movement into the twenty-first century required that it recruit and service the new labour market workers, increase participation and increase democracy. (70)

The writing was on the wall for the older-style, masculinist unions when Bob Hawke was elected President of the ACTU in 1969. In one of his first speeches as President elect, he called for cooperation between white and blue-collar unions with a view to unity. (71) It took a decade to achieve. (72) Throughout the 1970s executives of the ACTU and Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Association (ACSPA) met to discuss the 'organic unity within the Australian trade union movement'. (73) The ACSPA was concerned about the proliferation of trade unions in Australia and 'the new challenges'. (74) It was the peak white-collar organisation in Australia with a membership of over 400,000 in 1974 and growing. The executive was well aware of the increasing role of white-collar workers in Australian society and was concerned that it would find itself competing with the ACTU. In its submission to the ACTU it was at pains to point out that white-collar unions were no longer 'somewhat "tame-cat" employer bodies'. While it conceded that there were conservative elements within its ranks, it also pointed to white-collar militancy with 10,000 insurance and banking office workers marching in a demonstration in Melbourne. Moreover, by the 1970s even teachers and draughtspersons were taking industrial action. Indicative of this change in political orientation and involvement was the 'White-collar Workers for Whitlam' movement supported by thousands of Melbourne white-collar workers. White-collar unionists were cooperating with blue-collar workers such as draughtspersons working with workshop committees over black bans on work. The development of technology resulted in the expansion of white-collar areas of employment at a greater rate than blue-collar employment; white-collar workers were infringing on the traditional role taken by more manual workers. When the ACSPA and the ACTU did amalgamate in 1979, speakers at the former's wake clearly held the view that white-collar and blue-collar workers had become more 'level'. (75) The ACTU in the 1980s led the campaign to influence the political and economic direction of Australian society. The ACTU's vision of 'organic unity' was about changing gender relations as much as it was about occupational change. (76) In New Zealand the formation of the Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) in 1986 indicated the strength of the large feminised public service unions. (77)

While there is still serious under-representation of women in the union movement there has undoubtedly been change. (78) Women made up five per cent of New Zealand trade unionists in the first decade of the twentieth century and still only 25 per cent by the time the Department of Labour conducted its first survey of trade unions, which broke down union membership by gender, in 1969. (79) In 1971 women made up 28 per cent of registered union membership at a time when the proportion of women in the workforce was 27 per cent. However, as Bert Roth noted, while 'the extent of trade union membership among women is on a par with that of men ... their interest in unionism is considerably smaller'. (80) In one of the first studies of women in unions in 1977, it was found that there were only two female presidents of 58 national unions and only one female secretary. (81) By the 1990s New Zealand women were half the paid labour force, half of whom were union members, and most unions had formal structures providing for women to be increasingly represented in union leadership. Indeed, by the 1990s the president of a New Zealand union was, more often than not, a woman. (82) Angela Foulkes was the NZCTU Vice-President 1987-91 and NZCTU Secretary 1991-99. (83) Helen Kelly, general secretary of the New Zealand Association of University Staff, became NZCTU Vice-President in 2003 and President in October 2007 with Carol Beaumont continuing as NZCTU secretary. (84)

Similar developments in relation to women's union membership and leadership occurred in Australia at the same time. Women are now joining unions in roughly the same proportions as men (19 per cent and 21 per cent respectively). (85) By the middle of the 1990s a woman, a former teacher, Jennie George, had been elected President of the ACTU, the first time since it was established in 1927 that a woman had held this position. (86) A woman was also elected for the first time as secretary to a state Trades and Labor Council (Tasmania) and at least two other states had female assistant secretaries to their peak union bodies. By the end of the decade the ACTU had achieved its objective of 50 per cent female membership of its executive. (87) When Jennie George retired from office in 2000, she was replaced by another woman, Sharan Burrow.

Nor were Australasian women active only in their own countries. Occasionally they were active in each other's countries. Jessie Street crossed the Tasman to campaign for equal pay in New Zealand in 1944 and Margaret Brand travelled from Wellington to Sydney to campaign for equal pay in 1958. (88) Since the early days of the union movement women have been active in the international arena, collaborating with union men and women in other countries to advance their shared goals. Australian women pipped New Zealand women to international positions. Muriel Heagney attended the International Labor Organization conference in New York as an observer in 1941. Jessie Street was the founder of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 1945. (89) By the beginning of the twenty-first century Australasian women were playing a leading role in these international organisations: in December 2004 Sharan Burrow became the first woman President of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, an organisation representing over 150 million workers in over 150 countries.

Conclusion: Gender and the Bounds of Transnationalism

Gender relations have been central to labour relations and to union strategy in Australia and New Zealand since settlement. This comparative study has highlighted the ways in which similar economies, with like cultures and politics of male labour, had comparable outcomes for female workers: a strong labour movement with a high priority on the fate of the male breadwinner had positive as well as negative outcomes for women workers (including the wives of male breadwinners). While still disadvantaged in the workplace when compared to men in terms of wages, conditions and occupational access, the difficulty experienced by Australasian women has been less than in many other places during the same period.

This article also illustrates the ways in which country-to-country comparisons alone can be distorting. Where state jurisdictions have considerable influence on industrial relations institutions, these can result in significant variations between states that modify national trends in major ways. Moreover, any discussion of 'women' can be disaggregated to reveal different patterns amongst different groups of women, defined according to ethnicity, age, and so on.

While the framework of this study has been a comparative one, its conclusions suggest that a transnational study that tracks the exchange of people and ideas across the Tasman would also be illuminating: the similarities in the two national stories in relation to gender and labour probably owe a great deal to such exchanges as well as to similar structural conditions. What we already know about these exchanges is certainly very suggestive. Rollo Arnold calculates that of those New Zealand-born who turned 18 years of age in the 1890s, nearly one in eight of males but also more than one in 11 of females were still living in Australia in 1911. (90) In the two decades before the Great War the 'perennial interchange' of people, examined by Arnold and W.D. Borrie, resulted in the equivalent of 10 per cent of New Zealand's population choosing to reside in Australia, while Australian immigrants accounted for around 1.5 per cent of New Zealand's population. (91) Women, such as sex workers, moved between countries in search of opportunities just as male labourers such as shearers and miners did. (92) We know something of individual women but not of the collective impact of Australian-born women active in the New Zealand labour movement, such as Bessie Lee Cowie, Ettie Rout, Muriel Glyde, Sophia de la Mare, Dot de Lany and Nan Clark. We know a little of the collective impact of New Zealand women active in Australia such as Aileen Garmson, Henrietta Greville, Jean Devanny and her daughter Patricia. (93) There were women activists who moved between both countries, such as Harriet Powell and May Furey. (94) Further work on these women would complement existing work on trans-Tasman male activists. There is certainly scope for further study of the ways in which gendered ideas about labour regulation were exchanged across the Tasman and transformed into similar institutions and outcomes.

Finally, any attempt to tell a national story would be enhanced by an appreciation not just of the trans-Tasman context and influences but also of the ways in which workers have mobilised at the international level to promote cooperation between national groups of workers for the benefit of workers worldwide. This is an old vision of international labour but an enduring one, and one in which Australasian women are increasingly playing a part.

Raelene Frances and Melanie Nolan *


* The authors would like to thank the anonymous referees for their perceptive and constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article, and Julie Kimber for her editorial assistance.

(1.) Eric Fry (ed.), Common Cause: Essays in Australian and New Zealand Labour History, Allen & Unwin/ Port Nicholson Press, Wellington, 1986. There had been little work on Australasia in the previous 40 years. See Rollo Arnold, 'Some Australasian aspects of New Zealand life, 1890-1913', New Zealand Journal of History, vol. 4, no. 1, 1970, pp. 54-76; Ian Reid, Fiction and the Great Depression: Australia and New Zealand 1930-1950, Edward Arnold, London, 1979; and Donald Dennon, Settler Capitalism: The Dynamics of Dependent Development in the Southern Hemisphere, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1983.

(2.) M. McCaskill, 'The Tasman connection: Aspects of Australian-New Zealand relations', Australian Geographical Studies, no. 20, April 1982, p. 12. Most of the articles in Raelene Frances and Bruce Scates (eds), Women, Work and the Labour Movement in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand (special issue of Labour History, [no. 61], November, 1991), Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Sydney, 1991, were about one side of the Tasman or the other. More recent work is transnational: James E. Bennett, The 1890 Maritime Strike and the Triangular Relationship between Britain, Australia and New Zealand, MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 1986; Peter J. Coleman, Progressivism and the World of Reform: New Zealand and the Origins of the American Welfare State, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1987; Bruce Scates, 'Mobilising manhood: gender and the Great Strike of 1890 in Australia and New Zealand', Gender and History, vol. 9, no. 2, August 1997, pp. 285-310; James Ewan Bennett, Redeeming the Imagination: A Trans-National History of Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1890-1944, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 1997 and his subsequent publication, 'Rats and Revolutionaries': The Labour Movement in Australia and New Zealand, 1890-1940, University of Otago Press, Dunedin, 2004; Melanie Nolan, 'Pacific currents in the Tasman: comparative and transnational perspectives on New Zealand Labour History', Labour History, no. 88, May 2005, pp. 233-41; Fran Shor, 'Left Labor agitators in the Pacific Rim of the early Twentieth Century', International Labor and Working-Class History, no. 67, Spring 2005, pp. 148-63; S. K. Harford, A Trans-Tasman Community: Organisational Links Between the ACTU and NZFOL/NZCTU, 1970-90, MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 2006.

(3.) Lionel Frost, The New Urban Frontier: Urbanisation and City-Building in Australasia and the American West before 1910, University of New South Wales Press, Kensington, NSW, 1991.

(4.) Neville Kirk, Comrades and Cousins: Globalization, Workers and Labour Markets in Britain, the USA and Australia from the 1880 to 1914, Merlin Press, London, 2003, p. 6.

(5.) Gary Hawke, 'Australian and New Zealand economic development from about 1890 to 1940', in Keith Sinclair (ed.), Tasman Relations: New Zealand and Australia, 1788-1988, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1987, pp. 104-23.

(6.) Rollo Arnold, 'The Australasian peoples and their world, 1888-1915', in Sinclair (ed.), Tasman Relations, pp. 52-70. G.A. Carmichael (ed.), Trans-Tasman Migration:Trends, Causes and Consequences, Australian Government Publishing Service for the Bureau of Immigration Research, Canberra, 1993.

(7.) Bruce Scates, 'Gender, household and community politics: the maritime strike in Australia and New Zealand', in J. Hagan and A. Wells (eds), The Maritime Strike: A Centennial Retrospective: Essays in Honour of E.C. Fry, Five Islands Press, Sydney, 1992.

(8.) Shaun Goldfinch and Philippa Mein Smith, 'Compulsory arbitration and the Australasian model of state development: policy transfer, learning, and innovation', Journal of Policy History, vol. 18, no. 4, 2006, pp. 419-45. Donald Denoon, Philippa Mein Smith and Marvin Wyndham, A History of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, Blackwell, Oxford, 2000.

(9.) Melanie Nolan, 'The high tide of a labor market system: the Australasian male breadwinner model', Labor and Industry, vol. 13, no. 3, April 2003, pp. 73-92, and Melanie Nolan, 'The state changing its mind? Australian and New Zealand governments' postwar policy on married women's paid employment', in Patricia Grimshaw, John Murphy and Belinda Robert (eds), Double Shift: Working Mothers and Social Change in Australia, Circa, Melbourne Publishing Group, Melbourne, 2005, pp. 153-76.

(10.) Raelene Frances, 'One hundred years of women's wage-fixing', Journal of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, December 2000, pp. 84-93.

(11.) See, for example, on equal pay: Roberta Nicholls, 'The PSC and the equal pay campaign', in Alan Henderson (ed.), The Quest for Efficiency: The Origins of the State Services Commission, State Services Commission, Wellington, 1990, pp. 247-79; Greg Patmore, Australian Labour History, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1991, pp. 161-83. Or overviews: Edna Ryan and Ann Conlon, Gentle Invaders: Australian Women at Work 1788-1974, Thomas Nelson, Melbourne, 1975; Nancy M. Taylor, New Zealand People at War: Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939-1945: The Home Front, Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1986, p. 1293; A.D. Spaull, 'Equal pay for women teachers and the New South Wales Teachers' Federation', in A.D. Spaull (ed.), Australian Teachers: From Colonial Schoolmasters to Militant Professionals, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1977, pp. 276-89; J.A. Scutt, 'Inequality before the law. gender, arbitration and wages', in Kay Saunders and Raymond Evans (eds), Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Sydney, 1992, pp. 266-86; Melanie Nolan, Breadwinning: New Zealand Women and the State, Canterbury University Press, Christchurch, 2000.

(12.) John Rickard, 'The anti-sweating movement in Britain and Victoria: the politics of empire and social reform', Historical Studies, vol. 18, 1979, pp. 582-97. See Ulla Wikander, Alice Kessler-Harris and Jane Lewis (eds), Protecting Women: Labor Legislation in Europe, the United States, and Australia, 1880-1920, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1995.

(13.) Frances, 'One hundred years of women's wage-fixing', pp. 84-93.

(14.) The exception is a legislative overview, J. Nieuwenhuysen and J. Hicks, 'Equal pay for women in Australia and New Zealand', in Barrie O. Pettman (ed.), Equal Pay for Women. Progress and Problems for Women in Seven Countries, MCB Books, Bradford, 1975, pp. 63-98.

(15.) Margaret Corner, No Easy Victory: Towards Equal Pay for Women in the Government Service 1890-1960, NZPSA, Wellington, 1988. Nancy Taylor, The Home Front, vol. 2: NZ People at War, Official History of NZ in the Second World War, 1939-45, Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1986, p. 1075. Nicholls, 'The PSC and the equal pay campaign', pp. 247-79.

(16.) Ryan and Conlon, Gentle Invaders, especially 'The elusive equal pay 1951-74', pp. 145-75; Greg Patmore, 'Gender and work: feminist labour historiography and equal pay in Australia', in Australian Labour History, Longman Cheshire, Sydney, 1991, pp. 161-83; Zeldo D'Aprano, Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay, Spinifex, Melbourne, 2001.

(17.) David Pearson, 'Reconnecting the antipodes: a reflective note', Thesis Eleven, no. 82, August 2005, p. 83.

(18.) Richard Mitchell, 'State systems of conciliation and arbitration: the legal origins of the Australasian model', in Stuart Macintyre and Richard Mitchell (eds), Foundations of Arbitration: The Origins and Effects of State Compulsory Arbitration 1890-1914, Melbourne, 1989, pp. 74-103.

(19.) Lisa Davies with Natalie Jackson, Women's Labour Force Participation in New Zealand: The Past 100 Years, Social Policy Agency, Department of Social Welfare, Wellington, 1993.

(20.) Nolan, Breadwinning, chapter 7.

(21.) G. Kaplan, The Meagre Harvest: The Australian Women's Movement 1950s-1990s, Allen & Unwin, St Leonards, 1996.

(22.) Ann Curthoys and Marilyn Lake (eds), Connected Worlds: History in Trans-National Perspective, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2006.

(23.) For New Zealand: Peggy Koopman-Boyden and Claudia Scott, The Family and Government Policy in New Zealand, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1984; Nolan, Breadwinning; Helen May, Politics in the Playground: The World of Early Childhood in Postwar New Zealand, Bridget Williams Books, Wellington, 2001. For Australia: Ryan and Conlon, Gentle Invaders; Cora V. Baldock and Bettina Cass (eds), Women, Social Welfare and the State in Australia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1988 (first published 1983).

(24.) Raelene Frances, Linda Keeley and Joan Sangster, 'Women's work in Australia and Canada, 18801980', Labour History, no. 71, 1996, pp. 54-89, and Labour/Le Travail, no. 38, Fall 1996, pp. 54-89.

(25.) Frances, 'One hundred years of women's wage-fixing', pp. 84-93.

(26.) United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1997, New York and Oxford, 1997, pp. 39, 149-54.

(27.) Erik Olssen and Len Richardson, 'The New Zealand labour movement, 1880-1920' in Eric Fry (ed.), Common Cause, pp. 1-2. See Bennett, Rats and Revolutionaries.

(28.) Wally Seccombe, Weathering the Storm: Working-Class Families From the Industrial Revolution to the Fertility Decline, Verso Press, London, 1993; Colin Creighton, 'The rise of the male breadwinner family: a reappraisal', Comparative Studies in Society and History: An International Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 2, April, 1996, pp. 310-37; Sara Horrell and Jane Humphries, 'The origins and expansion of the male breadwinner family: the case of nineteenth century Britain', International Review of Social History, vol. 42, 1997, pp. 25-64; A. Janssens, 'The rise and decline of the male breadwinner family? an overview of the debate', International Review of Social History, vol. 42, 1997, pp. 1-23; Anna Clark, 'The new Poor Law and the breadwinner wage: contrasting assumptions', Journal of Social History, vol. 34, no. 2, 2000, pp. 261-81. As Alice Kessler-Harris points out, non-western historiography has a different chronology and complexity: Alice Kessler-Harris, 'Reframing the history of women's wage labor: challenges of a global perspective', Journal of Women's History, vol. 15, no. 4, 2004, pp. 186-206.

(29.) Anne Summers, Damned Whores and God's Police, Penguin, Ringwood, 1975, pp. 57-68; Jock Phillips, A Man's Country? The Image of the Pakeha Male: A History, Penguin Books, Auckland, 1987, p. 263. See also Patricia Grimshaw, 'Tasman sisters: lives of the "second sex''', in Sinclair (ed.), Tasman Relations, pp. 224-45.

(30.) John Gould, The Rake's Progress? The New Zealand Economy Since 1945, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1982, p. 93.

(31.) Miriam Dixson, The Real Matilda: Women and Identity in Australia, 1788-1975, Penguin Books, Melbourne, 1976, p. 11. See also Summers, Damned Whores and God's Police, pp. 425-7.

(32.) Charles Bergquist, Labor in Latin America: Comparative Essays on Chile, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1986.

(33.) Francis G. Castles, The Working Class and Welfare: Reflections on the Political Development of the Welfare State in Australia and New Zealand, 1890-1980, Allen and Unwin, Wellington, 1985, pp. 82-8. See also W.H. Oliver, 'Social policy in the Liberal period', New Zealand Journal of History, vol. 13, no. 1, April 1979, pp. 32-3. Oliver argues that economic policy (industrial conditions and relations, unemployment and public works) was social (welfare) policy.

(34.) W.J. Waters, 'Australian Labor's full employment objective, 1942-5', in Jill Roe (ed.), Social Policy in Australia: Some Perspectives 1901-25, Cassell, Sydney, 1976, p. 242; Walter Nash, New Zealand: A Working Democracy, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, London, 1944, p. 230.

(35.) A. Dalziell, Evatt: The Enigma, Landsdowne Press, Melbourne, 1967, pp. 41-4; Keith Sinclair, Walter Nash, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1976, pp. 238-41.

(36.) H. V. Evatt, Australia in World Affairs, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1946 pp. 40-1; A. Reouf, Let Justice be Done: The Foreign Policy of Dr H.W. Evatt, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 1983, pp. 118-21.

(37.) J. Thorn, Peter Fraser: New Zealand Wartime Prime Minister, Odhams Press Ltd, London, 1952, p. 236.

(38.) W. Rosenberg, 'Full Employment: The Fulcrum of Social Welfare', in A.D. Trlin (ed.), Social Welfare and New Zealand Society, Methuen, Wellington, 1977, pp. 45-60.

(39.) Michael Gilding, The Making and Breaking of the Australian Family, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1991.

(40.) 'Women in the labour force', International Labour Review, vol. 77, March 1958, p. 260, Table III, 'Married women in the labour force'.

(41.) John Murphy, 'Shaping the Cold War family: politics, domesticity and policy interventions in the 1950s', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 26, no. 105, October 1995, pp. 544-67; John Murphy, 'Social policy and the family' in Scott Prasser, J. R. Nethercote, John Warhurst (eds), The Menzies Era: A Reappraisal of Government, Politics and Policy, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney 1995, pp. 228-38. John Murphy, 'Breadwinning: accounts of work and family life in the 1950s', Labour and Industry, vol. 12, no. 3, April 2002, p. 59.

(42.) Jock Phillips, A Man's Country?, p. 263.

(43.) Frances, Kealey and Sangster, 'Women and wage labour in Australia and Canada, 1880-1990', pp. 54-89.

(44.) R.G. Gregory and R.C. Duncan, 'Segmented labour market theories and the Australian experience of equal pay for women', Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, vol. 3, 1981, pp. 403-28; R.G. Gregory and V. Ho, 'Equal pay and comparable worth: what can the US learn from the Australian experience?', Discussion Paper No. 123, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra, 1985; R.G. Gregory, A. Daly and V. Ho, 'A Tale of Two Countries: Equal Pay for Women in Australia and Britain', Discussion Paper No. 147, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra, 1986; R.G. Gregory, R. Anstie and V. Ho, 'Women's pay in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States: the role of laws, regulations and human capital', in R.T. Michael, H.I. O'Farrell and B.O'Farrell (eds), Pay Equity Empirical Enquiries, National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1989; R.G. Gregory and A. Daly, 'Can economic theory explain why Australian women are paid so well relative to their United States counterparts?', in S. Willborn (ed.), Women's Wages: Stability and Change in Six Industrial Countries, International Review of Comparative Public Policy, vol. 3, JAI Press, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1991; R.G. Gregory, 'Labour market institutions and the gender pay ratio', Australian Economic Review, vol. 32, 1999, pp. 272-8.

(45.) Suzanne Hammond and Raymond Harbridge, 'The impact of the Employment Contracts Act on women at work,' New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 18, no, 1, 1993, pp. 15-30.

(46.) National Distribution Union (NDU), Under Contract: A Brief Report on the Use of the Employment Contracts Act in the Retail Sector, NDU, Wellington, 1993. See also: National Distribution Union, Shortchanged: Retail Workers and the ECA, NDU, Auckland, 1996.

(47.) 'Myth and reality: the effect of the Employment Contracts Act on nurses in New Zealand (1991-1993)', paper presented by the NZ Nurses Organisation at the International Council of Nurses Congress, Madrid, June 1993.

(48.) Raymond Harbridge, Service Workers Union Women Members Survey, Wellington, September 1993.

(49.) For a detailed analysis of the gender wage gap, see Sylvia Dixon, 'Pay inequality between men and women in New Zealand', Occasional Paper 2000/1, September 2000, Labour Market Policy Group, New Zealand Department of Labour, esp. pp. 37-40. See also Closing the Gap, a forum on the gender pay gap, Council of Trade Unions, Wellington, 1997. It should be noted, however, that the gap in NZ subsequently narrowed, a shift explained by Sylvia Dixon in terms of increases in the human capital of women, relative to men, and changes in the employment distribution of men and women. See Sylvia Dixon, 'Understanding reductions in the gender wage differential 1997-2003', New Zealand Conference on Pay and Employment Equity for Women, Wellington, 2004.

(50.) Ask the Women! A Survey of Women's Opinions on Economic, Social and Industrial Policy, NZ Council of Trade Unions, May 1993.

(51.) Gillian Whitehouse and Betty Frino, 'Women, wages and industrial agreements', Australian Journal of Labour Economics, vol. 6, no. 4, December 2003, pp. 579-96. Cf. Anne Daly, Akira Kawajuchi, Xin Meng and Karen Mumford's article, 'The gender wage gap in four countries', The Economic Record, vol. 82, no. 257, June 2006, pp. 165-76, which does not disaggregate the gap according to bargaining streams, and so finds little change in the gap over the same period. This is because the changes in the individual and collective bargaining outcomes are offset by the outcomes for the award stream. For other contributions on the impact of enterprise bargaining on female workers, see G. Whitehouse, 'Recent trends in pay equity: beyond the aggregate statistics', Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 43, 2001, pp. 66-78; Laura Bennett, 'Women and enterprise bargaining', Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 36, 1994, pp. 191-213; Philippa Hall and Di Fruin, 'Gender aspects of enterprise bargaining: the good, the bad and the ugly', in D.E. Morgan (ed.), Dimensions of Enterprise Bargaining and Organisational Relations, UNSW Studies in Australian Industrial Relations, Monograph no. 36, Industrial Relations Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Kensington, 1994; S. Hammond, 'Equity under Enterprise Bargaining', ACIRRT Working Paper No. 33, University of Sydney, 1994; Kathryn Heiler, Betty Arsovska and Richard Hall, 'Good and bad bargaining for women: do unions make a difference?', Labour and Industry, vol. 10, 1999, pp. 101-27; C. Reiman, 'Has Enterprise Bargaining Affected the Gender Wage Gap in Australia?', in C. Leggett, C. Provis, R. Shanahan, E. Stern, G. Treuren and P. Wright (eds), Current Research in Industrial Relations, AIRAANZ 99, vol. 2: Non-refereed papers, AIRAANZ, 1991, pp. 205-16.

(52.) Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends 2005. According to the ABS, the gap was 78 per cent in 1974; 91 per cent in 1978; 94 per cent in 1994 and 92 per cent in 2004.

(53.) For example, Ryan and Conlon, Gentle Invaders; Jenny Lee, 'A redivision of labour: Victoria's Wages Boards in action, 1896-1903', Australian Historical Studies, vol. 22, no. 88, April 1987, pp. 353-72; Stephen Robertson, 'Women Workers and the New Zealand Arbitration Court, 1894-1920', in Raelene Frances and Bruce Scates (eds), Women, Work and the Labour Movement in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, pp. 30-41.

(54.) Melanie Nolan and Pat Walsh, 'Labour's leg iron? assessing trade unions and arbitration in New Zealand', in Pat Walsh (ed.), Trade Unions, Work and Society: The Centenary of the Arbitration System, Dunmore Press, Palmerston North, 1994, pp. 21-2; Peter Brosnan and Moira Wilson, The Historical Structuring of the Labour Market, Industrial Relations Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, 1989, p. 33. Using international comparisons, F.D. Blau and L.M. Kahn, The Gender Earnings Gap: Some International Evidence, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, No. 4224, 2001, p. 2. Gillian Whitehouse, 'Legislation and labour market gender inequality: an analysis of OECD countries', Work, Employment and Society, vol. 6, no. 1, 1992, pp. 65-86.

(55.) Diane Kirkby, 'Arbitration and the fight for economic justice', in Stuart Macintyre and Richard Mitchell (eds), Foundations of Arbitration, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1989, pp. 334-51.

(56.) Compare, Sue Iverson, 'How low pay for women has come about', Broadsheet, no. 146, January/ February 1987, pp. 38-40 with the following: Martha Coleman, 'Compulsory arbitration: an essential protection for women workers', Women's Studies Association Conference Papers, 1989, pp. 343-46. Margaret Wilson, 'Employment Equity Act 1990: a case study in women's political influence, 1984-90', in John Deeks and Nick Perry (eds), Controlling Interests: Business, the State and Society in New Zealand, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1992, pp. 16-35; Patricia Sarr, Out of the Chorus Line: The Progress of Women in New Zealand Unions, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU), Wellington, 1992; and Shifting Sands: Women in New Zealand Unions 1993, NZCTU, Wellington, 1993. For Australia, see Frances, 'One hundred years of women's paid labour'; Jocelynne A. Scutt, The struggle for equal pay and pay equity in Australia, PhD thesis, University of New South Wales, 2007.

(57.) Alison Preston and Geoff Crockett, 'State of pay: female relative earnings in Australia', Labour and Industry, vol. 10, no. 2, December 1999, pp. 129-46.

(58.) Neville Kirk, Comrades and Cousins, p. 6.

(59.) Stuart Macintyre, The Oxford History of Australia, vol. 4, The Succeeding Age 1901-1942, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 86-7.

(60.) Kirk, Comrades and Cousins, p. 6.

(61.) See, for example, Raelene Frances, The Politics of Work: Gender and Labour in Victoria, 1880-1940, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 1993, pp. 79, 91, 95-6, 124, 148.

(62.) United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1997, New York and Oxford, 1997, pp. 39. For a discussion of the report, see Pamela Bone, 'Capitalism Should Be Feminised', The Age, Friday 13 June 1997, p. 3.

(63.) Graeme Dunstall, 'The social pattern', in W.H. Oliver and B.R. Williams (eds), The Oxford History of New Zealand, Wellington, 1981, pp. 396-429.

(64.) Raelene Frances, 'Shifting barriers: twentieth century women's labour patterns' in Kay Saunders and Raymond Evans (eds), Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Sydney, 1992, pp. 246-61; Denoon, Mein Smith, Wyndham, A History of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, pp. 409-424.

(65.) New Zealand Statistics, 2001. It is estimated that semi-professionals made up 6.7 per cent of the urban occupational structure in 1901.

(66.) Erik Olssen and Maureen Hickey, Class and Occupation: The New Zealand Reality, Otago University Press, Dunedin, 2005, pp. 160-7.

(67.) New Zealand Statistics, 2001.

(68.) Graeme Davison, 'Professions' in Graeme Davison, John Hirst and Stuart Macintyre (eds), The Oxford Companion to Australian History, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1998, p. 529; Maria Nugent, Women's Employment and Professionalism in Australia: Histories, Themes and Places, Report prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2002; The Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the New Zealand Centre for Women and Leadership (NZCWL), New Zealand Census of Women's Participation in Governance and Professional Life, HRC and NZCWL, Wellington, June, 2004.

(69.) Paul Boreham, Alec Pemberton, Paul Wilson (eds), The Professions in Australia: A Critical Appraisal, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, Queensland, 1976. For a discussion of the professionalism in England, see Harold Perkin, The Rise of Professional Society: England Since 1880, Routledge, London and New York, 1989.

(70.) John Deeks, Jane Parker, Rose Ryan, Labour and Employment Relations in New Zealand, Longman Paul, Auckland, 1994; Melanie Nolan and Shaun Ryan, 'Transforming unionism by organising? an examination of the gender revolution in New Zealand trade unionism since 1975', Labour History, no. 84, May 2003, pp. 89-111; Braham Dabscheck, The Struggle for Australian Industrial Relations, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995; David Peetz, Unions in a Contrary World: The Future of the Australian Trade Union Movement, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998.

(71.) Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Hawke, Address to the Australian Public Service Federation (APSF) Conference Adelaide, October 1969. Bob Hawke, as President-elect of the ACTU, spoke to the 1969 ACSPA conference. It was widely reported: see The Australian, 5 & 18 December 1969, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 & 5 December 1969, Melbourne Age, 4 & 5 December 1969, Sun, 3 & 5 December 1969, Financial Review, 5 December 1969, Newsday, 3 December 1969. His other speeches on 'the question of "organic unity"' include his opening address to the ACTU Congress 15 September 1975, Z140 Box 3, Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC), Australian National University (ANU), Canberra.

(72.) Meeting 21 August 1975, Joint Working Party notes, Z140 Box 3, NBAC, ANU, Canberra. The ACSPA Federal Executive Meeting in December 1969 authorised the federal officers and its representative on the Joint Committee to commence negotiations but regular formal discussions of the Joint Working Party only commenced from 1970. Meeting of Joint Committee of National Employees Council (ACTU-ACSPA-CCPS), 15 May 1970. The APSF was not represented until 18 February 1971: Joint Committee of National Employees Councils, Z140 Box 3, NBAC, ANU, Canberra.

(73.) 'Statement on behalf of ACSPA by P.W. Reilly, Federal President to the Joint Meeting of Executives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Association to discuss Organic Unity within the Australian Trade Union Movement', Melbourne, 20 May 1974, Z140 Box 3, NBAC, ANU, Canberra.

(74.) Formal decision Federal Executive 31 July 1973, which was sent to ACTU, NBAC, ANU, Canberra.

(75.) ACSPA Minutes. Z140 boxes 11-20, NBAC, ANU, Canberra.

(76.) See discussion on the changing role of the white-collar workers in Australian society, 'Statement on behalf of ACSPA by P.W. Reilly'.

(77.) New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Organizing Women Workers: Mobilizing Women Workers: Mobilizing Women Workers Using the Organizing Model, NZCTU, Wellington, 1995.

(78.) Nolan and Ryan, 'Transforming unionism by organising?', pp. 89-111.

(79.) Mrs E. Bell, President of the Clerical Workers Union, address to the Federation of Labour (NZFOL) annual conference in 1969 on women's inactivity: 'Women in trade unions: New Zealand', Labour and Employment Gazette, vol. xix, no. 3, August 1969, p. 12.

(80.) H. Roth, Trade Unions in New Zealand. Past and Present, Reed Education, Wellington, 1973, p. 130.

(81.) K.E. Threadwell, Women in Trade Unions, unpublished research paper, NZFOL, Wellington 1977, pp. 7-8. See also 'Women and New Zealand trade unions', NZFOL Bulletin, September 1976 and The Role of Women in The Distribution Industry, Report by the Distribution Council August 1976, Distribution Council, Wellington 1976.

(82.) Melanie Nolan, 'Employment Organisations,' in Anne Else (ed.), Women Together: A History of Women's Organisations in New Zealand Nga Ropu Wahine o te Motu, Daphne Brassell, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1993, pp. 195-207. The statistical outline of this transformation has been well documented in a series of quantitative union surveys in the 1990s. See, Sarr, Out of the Chorus Line and Anne Boyd, Moving Mountains: the Progress of Women in New Zealand Unions 1997, CTU, Wellington, 1997.

(83.) Angela Foulkes, interview by Shaun Ryan, September/October 1999, Oral History Archives, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

(84.) Dominion Post, 4 August 2007.

(85.) Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employee Earnings, benefits and Trade Union Membership August 2006.

(86.) George succeeded Martin Ferguson in 1996. For an account of her career to 1998, see Brad Norington, Jennie George, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998.

(87.) Jude Elton, 'Making democratic unions: from policy to practice', in Barbara Pocock (ed.), Strife: Sex and Politics in Labour Unions, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1997, pp. 109-27.

(88.) New Zealand Standard, 16 November 1944, p. 5; Peter Sekuless, Jessie Street: A Rewarding but Unrewarded Life, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 1978, p. 194; Margaret Long interviewed by Melanie Nolan, Otaki, New Zealand, 5 February 1992 and 19 June 2003.

(89.) Flo Humpheries represented the New Zealand Federation of Labour at an Asian Women's Conference in Tokyo in 1971 and Sonja Davies was involved in the international Working Women's Charter movement in the 1970s: New Zealand Federation of Labour Bulletin, vol. 6, no, 8, July 1971; and Sonja Davies, Bread and Roses: Her Story, Australia and New Zealand Book Co. Pty Ltd with Fraser Books, Auckland, 1984; Frank Farrell, International Socialism and Australian Labour: The Left in Australia, 1919-1939, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1981.

(90.) Rollo Arnold, 'The dynamics and quality of trans-Tasman migration 1885-1910', Australian Economic History Review, vol. 26, no. 1, 1986, p. 4.

(91.) Ibid., p. 1. W.D. Borrie, 'The peopling of Australasian 1788-1988: the common heritage', in Keith Sinclair (ed.), Tasman Relations: New Zealand and Australia, 1788-1988, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1988, Table 1, p. 206.

(92.) See Raelene Frances, Selling Sex: A Hidden History of Prostitution, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2007.

(93.) Entries for some of these women can be found in The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vols 1-5, Auckland University Press, available online: and the Australian Dictionary of Biography, vols 7-12, Melbourne University Press, available online: http://www.adb.

(94.) Barry Gustafson, From the Cradle to the Grave: A Biography of Michael Joseph Savage, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1988, p. 294. Marian Sawer has shown the usefulness of tracking individual trans-Tasman connections to tease out broader movements. See, Marian Sawer, The Ethical State? Social Liberalism in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2003.

Raelene Frances has published widely on the history of women, gender and labour in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Her books include The Politics of Work: Gender and Labour in Victoria 1880-1940 (1997) and Selling Sex: A Hidden History of Prostitution (2007). She is currently Dean of Arts at Monash University in Melbourne.


Melanie Nolan is Professor of History, Director of the National Centre for Biography and General Editor of the Australian Dictionary of Biography, ANU. She is currently writing a history of gender and professional society in Australasia in which she considers the role of cohorts and generations in history.

Table 1:

Major Points of Similarity Between Australia and New Zealand

1. Gendered Patterns of Colonial Labour to the 1880s

* Australia and New Zealand 'settler' economies allocated a limited
range of occupations to females and paid them at approximately half
the male rate.

* Limited incorporation of Indigenous female labour.

2. Sweating Crisis and Advent of Factory Legislation

* Legislation 'protecting' or constraining women's employment was
passed in both New Zealand and Australia about the same time. Factory
Acts in both Victoria and New Zealand in 1873 set limits on female
working hours. The first longstanding female unions formed in tailoring
in 1882 in Australia, and 1890 in New Zealand.

* 'Sweating' inquiries in colonies on both sides of the Tasman in the
early 1890s were a prelude to wage-setting tribunals (eg 1894 New
Zealand Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act; 1896 Victorian
Shops and Factories Act; 1904 Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration

* In the years leading up to World War II, these tribunals reinforced
existing gendered wage differentials, with female rates set at about
half of male rates (54 per cent in Australia, and 47 per cent in New
Zealand), which further limited the scope of female labour.

3. Towards Equal Pay: World War II and Post-War Full Employment

* The rate of pay for women increased during the war (Australia to
approximately 75 per cent of male rates; New Zealand--under minimum
wage legislation--from 47 per cent in 1936 to 66 per cent in 1947).
Australia had a Womens Employment Bureau (WEB) which was empowered to
set female wage rates at not less than 60 per cent and not more than
100 per cent of the adult male rate. New Zealand did not have a WEB and
rates in general did not exceed 60 per cent, even when women were
working in 'men's occupations' for the duration of the war. Post-war
rates maintained some of women's wartime gains with the New Zealand
female rate about 70 per cent in the 1950s and 1960s; it was enshrined
in official tribunal decisions in Australia with the 1949-50 Basic Wage
Case setting a female rate of 75 per cent of the male rate.

* Barriers to employment of married women as public servants and
teachers were removed during this period (1939 in New Zealand; 1947
in NSW).

* Equal pay decisions were made in both countries for public service
women in 1958/60 with the Section 88D 'Equal pay under Certain
Circumstances' under the 1958 NSW Industrial Arbitration (Female Rates)
Amendment Act and the New Zealand 1960 Government Services Equal Pay
Act. Equal pay in the private sector occurred almost simultaneously in
New Zealand and Australia between 1969 and 1974. The Australian
Arbitration Commission gave an equal pay decision in 1969 but
few women (less than a fifth) benefited because it did not apply to
work 'essentially or usually performed by females'. The Commission's
equal pay decision in 1972 awarded women male rates of pay no matter
what work they were doing. The 1972 New Zealand Equal Pay Act was
intended to ensure a 'rate for the job', regardless of whether a man or
a woman did the work. The rate was to be calculated on the basis that
it was done by a man. Pay equity did not result from this legislation
in either country but the gender pay gap narrowed in both countries
over the following decade by about 10 per cent of full-time equivalent

* Childcare provisions in 1972/73 acknowledged the link between
employment and childcare and aimed at providing childcare for working
parents at affordable rates. The Australian Child Care Act 1972
resulted in federal government funding for teachers in preschool day
care centres for the first time. The New Zealand 1973 Act introduced
a capital works subsidy for non-profit-making childcare centres and
a means-tested fee subsidy to parents.

* Maternity leave and protections for Commonwealth employees in
Australia were legislated for in 1973. All New Zealand women were
granted 26 weeks leave and job protection while on leave in 1980;
parental leave was instituted in New Zealand in 1987 and paid parental
leave began in 2001. Australia was a little later with the 1979
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Maternity Leave Case
resulting in unpaid maternity leave provisions being inserted in most
industrial awards; parental leave was introduced in 1990 and the First
Child Tax Rebate scheme, the 'Baby Bonus', was instituted in Australia
from 2002.

* The push to pay equity continued. 'Comparable worth' was sought
unsuccessfully as a new principle to assess gender pay relativities in
New Zealand with the 1986 Clerical Workers Case and in 1985/86 by the
ACTU in Australia.

4. Dismantling Central Wage-Fixing and Market Deregulation, Late

* Deregulation had similar implications for female workers in both
countries for it removed the possibility of across-the-board changes
through centralised arbitration systems, such as had occurred in the
past with protective labour legislation and equal pay. Deregulation
moved faster and more emphatically in New Zealand with the 1991
Employment Contracts Act (ECA) removing trade union registration,
compulsory union membership and the award system. Australia moved
towards enterprise-level bargaining from the late 1980s; the Australian
Workplace Relations Act of 1996 also allowed non-union collective
agreements and individual contracts known as Australian Workplace
Agreements alongside collective agreements. The Workplace Relations
Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2005 aimed to extend individual workplace
agreements and undermine trade unions, but it still fell short
of the 1991 ECA.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Australian Society for the Study of Labour History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Author:Frances, Raelene; Nolan, Melanie
Publication:Labour History - A Journal of Labour and Social History
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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