They Will Never Crush Out The Union! The Role of Women in the 1890 Maritime Strike

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MIL OSI – Source: Unite Union –

Headline: They Will Never Crush Out The Union! The Role of Women in the 1890 Maritime Strike

An early action for International Women's Day.

An early action for International Women’s Day.

By Ciaran Doolin. Reprinted from issue 2 of What She Said, magazine of UC Femsoc.

By 1889 women workers in New Zealand had established their first industrial organisation, the Tailoresses’ Union. Lead by Harriet Morison, the union delivered marked increases in wages and substantive improvements in working conditions. The union was influential in the suffragette movement, achieving a harmony between political and industrial functions that contemporary male unions struggled to match. The tailoresses had overcome the prejudices of their employers and the labour movement, and demonstrated that women were eminently capable of industrial self-organisation. However, most women workers remained unorganised, their lives characterised by drudgery and exploitation. Strikes intensified these conditions. Nonetheless, many working-class women saw the security of their families as integrally tied to the fortunes of the labour movement and backed their husbands when they ‘went out’. The Maritime Strike…

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