Trade Union Congress
The Trade Union Congress was an organisation that was fromed from the members of the Watersider Workers' Union and other militant socialist unions who walked out of the Federation of Labour (FoL) in a schism in the FoL in 1948-1949. The newly-formed union was led by two presidents of the Watersider Worker's Union, Harold 'Jock' Barnes and Toby Hill. When these unions broke away, these unions united and was renamed as the Trade Union Congress.
This socialist, militant unions broke away from the FoL in 1948-1949 largely due do the conflicting argument between the members of the FoL on the declining working conditions, dissatisfaction with the Labour Government and its economic and political policies. The members of the Trade Union Congress disliked the system of compulsary unionism set out by Fraser's Labour Government, and during the controversy over the Arbitration Court wage rise, the militant unions were determined that they would not work overtime.
Toby Hill and Jock Barnes (second and third from left) were leading officials in the Federation of Labour. Hills and Barnes were the powerful Waterside Workers’ Union, which argued for more militant action by the union movement to oppose the conservative government. However, the FoL refused to support the wharfies, and at this 1950 meeting of the federation, Barnes and Hill led a walkout of militant unions. They set up a rival organisation, the Trade Union Congress, to directly challenge the government. The Trade Union Congress called the Government by abusive names; "Nazis", dictators, facists, and in return, the members of the Trade Union Congress were nicknames as "Commies." The power struggle betweween the state and the Trade Union Congress were intense during the 1951 Waterfront Dispute.
Toby Hills and Harold "Jock" Barnes
Toby Hills and Harold Barnes were heavily involved in the trade unionism and were members of the New Zealand Waterside Workers' Union.
Jock Barnes went on to the wharves in 1935, and by 1944, he had become the president of WWU, a position he held until 1952. Barnes and his wife Freda became active members of the Labour Party and the central figure during the 1951 Waterfront Dispute. He was imprisoned in Mt. Eden Prison for two months at the end of the dispute for "defaming" a police constables. At the end of the strike actions, both Hills and Barnes struggled to find work as they had been blacklisted across Auckland. He became a working-class hero to some, and a communist trouble makers to others. Barnes left a permanent mark on New Zealand's Labour movement history. His memoir Never White Flag was published in 1998.
Toby Hills was elected national secretary of the WWU in 1942. Although Barnes was a key figure in the 151-day strike action, Hills was an able leader and an important administrator. Hill made a comeback in the trade unions in the 1960's when he was readmitted to the Federation of Labour.
Neither Barnes and Hill was a member of the Communist Party.