“Never A White Flag”, the memoirs of Jock Barnes, the leader of the 1951 Waterfront Workers strike/lockout – was the war cry of New Zealand’s longest industrial dispute, and according to the waterfront workers it was a lockout, not a strike.
What I learned when reading Barnes’ account was that much of what the union were fighting for are now taken for granted by both employers and employees today. The majority of employers understand that there is value in keeping your employees safe and that it is not just a moral imperative but a very real commercial one when operating a successful business.
The workplace disputes of today, while different in detail, still reflect the core concerns of employees who don’t feel they are being heard or their expectations are being met by their employer.
Failure to deal with employee concerns and rising expectations can be disruptive to a business’s performance and organisational culture, creating havoc and disharmony. There are still people on the waterfront who have their grandparent’s 1951 strike card – evidence that feelings last much longer than the next annual plan!
If you need guidance navigating through difficult conversations and building those relationships to have honest conversations, we can help.
Written by Adrian Tocker, Senior Associate.