AWUNZ has a rich history behind its present structure.
Earliest documented accounts are contained in the thesis prepared by Stephen Kennedy while at Otago University. It was entitled ‘Really Concerned Men’ and was a labour of love for him in 1977.
His research traced five men who were the instigators of Labour and General Workers Unions in the late 1800’s.
Similar historical beginnings occurred in Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru and Invercargill.
AWUNZ is a coming together of historical regional industry based unions including construction, cement, lime, Council, mining, quarrying, transport, numerous trades and other unions that formed the NZ Labourers Union, which operated regionally and within the respective industries, then 3 Regional Councils, soon to be national.
The initial Unions were in existence well over 120 years ago. Old Labour disputes were reported in the 1870’s in early newspapers.
With the desecration of the Ministry of Works back in the 80’s, the NZ Workers Union collapsed and it was left to the NZLU to pick up the pieces which formed the Amalgamated Workers of New Zealand.
This was the inclusion of the remnants of the NZWU members joining the NZLU to form AWUNZ.
With the introduction of the Employment Contracts Act of 1990, the Regional Drivers Unions struggled to remain viable as transport Companies reinstated Company Bargaining, as they had previously been bound by the NZ General Drivers Award.
With deregulation of the industry and capital and new players coming previously into the industry held out by licensing, transport became problematic for the Unions and the Southern Unions joined AWUNZ.
Transport sector was particularly strong in local authorities but with greater transparency of local Governments business and the regularity required of these businesses to form Local Authority trading as or LATES as they became known as numbers dropped.
As these businesses either got sold or simply closed up through the tendering systems adopted by Councils, who were ironically the LATE’s owners.
With the Transport Unions joining AWUNZ, the South Island Ambulance officers became members along with other specialised workers.
AWUNZ retained and still retains its National image through the Federation of Northern, Central, and Southern AWUNZ, and though the Federation still maintains several National Agreements as we amalgamated, we believe other National Agreements will come.
AWUNZ has adapted to the Collective Bargaining Good Faith process and adapted to the market place environment with initiatives that include selective investment strategies that provide a broader base of income than union fees and expanding benefits and services to members.
Amalgamations, presently Northern and Central AWUNZ are in the process of amalgamating to form simply AWUNZ. AWUNZ Southern is working through a process of also amalgamating to what will be to reform the National Union under the banner of AWUNZ, this will create a National platform and base to further our existing operations and progress further discussions with kindred Unions that will provide an even stronger base and further improve services to members. Already AWUNZ is working as a National Union and in the next year or so will have achieved over 130 years of service and dedication to working men and women of this century.