Strike-breakers on Nelson wharf, 1913

Strike-breakers on Nelson wharf, 1913

Strike-breakers on Nelson wharf during the 1913 waterfront strike. These workers may have local professionals, as the original caption reads: ‘The lawyers day at the wharf’. 

The strike affected many provincial centres. The strike by Wellington’s watersiders had a heavy impact on Nelson’s fruitgrowers and pea farmers, who usually shipped their produce to Wellington. Then on 31 October Nelson’s watersiders went on strike in support of their Wellington comrades. In early November seamen joined the strike. Coal miners at Pūponga in Golden Bay went on strike on 13 November and remained out until January 1914.

On 1 November, local farmers and fruitgrowers called for volunteers to work the wharves. Farmers went to the wharves on 12 November and, after declaring themselves to be members of a new arbitrationist watersiders’ union, began loading and unloading ships. Strikers and their supporters abused the ‘scabs’, but there was no violence and the regular police had no trouble maintaining order. By early December many Nelson watersiders, including the union president, had joined the arbitrationist union and gone back to work. By 15 December the waterside strike was largely over in Nelson.

See more images of Nelson during the 1913 strike here (Flickr)

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