The Significant Factors in Industrial Conflict, with Special Reference to Three New Zealand Industries
The scope of this study is broader than that of most others on industrial conflict and encompasses individual and employer-initiated forms of conflict as well as stoppages. Industrial conflict is a complex concept and there is consequently a need for an explicit ordering of ideas. Our theoretical discussion in Part 1 is aimed at providing a general framework for later empirical analysis. It begins with a conceptualization of industrial conflict which embraces many causes, settings, parties and forms. The more important of these forms are outlined before factors influencing the distribution of industrial conflict are surveyed. It ends with an investigation of the ways in which the economic effects of such conflict may be observed and to some extent measured. Three industries, meat freezing, building and construction, and waterfront, account for a disproportionate amount of industrial conflict in New Zealand and it is on these that the empirical analysis of this thesis centres. In order to understand the context of conflict in these industries, their economic, technical and organisational environments are outlined in Part 2. Part 3 contains the empirical investigation itself, beginning with the place of these three industries in the national perspective and then dealing with the industries in turn. In each case, both official statistics and material obtained by interviews and questionnaires are used to analyze conflict in detail and to evaluate possible factors shaping it. No simple conflict patterns are found. These industries are, for example, stoppage prone but all contain several units which are virtually stoppage free. But in each industry certain fundamental features are found to be influential in shaping the patterns. Of prime importance is the technology, although economic features, such as the nature of worker remuneration, ownership patterns and the level of throughput, are also important. These conclusions are summarised in Part 4 where it is noted that, while the three industries have features predisposing them toward conflict, our understanding of and command over these features can be improved.