A gloomy, kneeling employer and a suspicious pipe-smoking worker are united by an angelic William Pember Reeves, the driving force behind the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1894. Reeves was then New Zealand’s minister of labour and of justice, and after the devastating effects of the 1890 maritime strike he was determined to protect the labour movement. His act required all unions registered under it, and their members’ employers, to negotiate instead of striking, and to accept the decision of a state-sponsored arbitrator if they couldn’t agree.
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