Our 2020 theme – From Kinleith to the dole queue: workers’ struggles of the 1980s

The LHP is excited to announce our theme for 2020: From Kinleith to the dole queue: workers’ struggles of the 1980s

2020 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Kinleith dispute. In 1980, workers at the massive Kinleith plant in Tokoroa struck in a dispute over pay that soon became a flash point in the union movement’s campaign against the Muldoon government and a sign that militant organised labour could take on the government. The dispute was a victory for workers and played a role in the eventual repeal of Muldoon’s anti-union legislation. Yet some argue Kinleith was the highpoint of labour movement strength before a slow decline.

The 2020 theme, From Kinleith to the dole queue: workers’ struggles of the 1980s uses Kinleith as a starting point for exploring the challenges of the 1980s. These were difficult years for workers in New Zealand: a continuing recession and rapid neoliberal reforms undermined the strength of unions and unemployment increasingly became a reality. The theme explores the struggles and the legacies of the 1980s and what they mean for us today.

We’ll be organising a symposium later in the year, as well as a themed edition of the Bulletin. Watch this space!