Wednesday, 10 June 2015

In Memoriam: Peter Conway.

Peter Conway 195? - 2015
Trade union leader, economist, folk-singer, loving husband and father, a caring and thoroughly decent human-being.
 “He was a good man and he will be held in the hearts of the labour movement.” - Andrew Little

At this very sad time, and on behalf of Bowalley Road and its readers, I wish to extend my condolences to Peter's family and friends, and to all his many trade union comrades. - Chris Trotter.

Joe Hill ain't dead, he says to me
Joe Hill ain't ever died
Where working folk are out on strike
Joe Hill is at their side

Video courtesy of YouTube

This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.


Tiger Mountain said...

Peter Conway could have done many things but chose to use his considerable talents to aid the workers cause. He was in the UK during the Miners Strike in ’84 and actively supported the miners. He gained economics degrees while he worked in various union roles of researcher and advocate for mainly the Distribution Unions, having started out with the SI Clothing Workers.

He was ultimately social democratic in political outlook but participated in the marxist NZ WISSE (Workers Institute for Scientific Socialist Education) in the 90s and later Gamma Foundation, the Fabians and of course NZ Labour.

He was one of the new breed of “academic unionists” that appeared as the ’51 Waterfront lockout era veterans moved on. Peter was on various company boards also such as Yellow Bus to put a union perspective right to other directors. I recall the Bowalley Rd author, then with the Distribution Workers Federation, being roundly chastised for daring to write a column for the NBR, such were the demarcations of those days and Conway had his critics for engaging beyond the Trades Hall too.

Peter was personally involved in numerous pickets and actions and played a significant role in unionising the supermarket end of the retail sector. His NZCTU career will be no doubt referred to by others. Having spoken to him at a Union Congress just before he stepped away from the CTU He was keenly aware of the tension between what a central labour organisation was called to do by the militants and what was possible given the post ECA affiliates and rank and file level of organisation. A very hard worker, you always knew where he stood.

And he was a great musician and family guy to boot!
RIP Peter.

Chris Trotter said...

While we're on the subject of those far-off, strictly demarcated, days, TM, I would point out that the photo I have posted here was taken 27 years ago, at the 1988 Wellington conference of the Retail Division of the Distribution Workers' Federation. How the years have flown - and the times changed.