The angel of arbitration

The angel of arbitration

In this cartoon from the New Zealand Graphic of 1894 an angelic William Pember Reeves, minister of labour in the Liberal government, attempts to unite an employer and a worker, both highly suspicious, behind the principle of compulsory conciliation.

Reeves was largely responsible for the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of that year, which required unions to register and for both parties to negotiate instead of fighting with strikes and lockouts. If the two parties could not agree, a process of compulsory arbitration by a state-sponsored arbitrator followed. The compulsory arbitration process meant New Zealand experienced no strikes between 1894 and 1908.

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