An Agitator Abroad
An Agitator Abroad
P.H. Hickey, Industrial Unionism, and Socialism in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia, 1900–1930
Patrick Hodgens Hickey, a New Zealander, was a labor activist who introduced American ideas of revolutionary industrial unionism and socialist political action to the country of his birth. Hickey grew up in rural New Zealand at a time of industrial peace under a compulsory arbitration system and initially had little interest in unions or socialism. He learned mining skills while working as an itinerant laborer in the United States, becoming part of a transnational network of mine workers. He was radicalized by his experiences of American class conflict and his involvement with the militant Western Federation of Miners. Returning to New Zealand, he became a leader of a workers’ revolt against the compulsory arbitration system in the period from 1907 through to 1914. Hickey was a key organizer of the union peak body that became the New Zealand Federation of Labour, the “Red Feds.” Following the defeats of the Waihi strike of 1912 and the Great Strike of 1913, Hickey suffered blacklisting. He went to Australia in 1915 to escape the blacklist and the threat of wartime conscription. In Australia he worked as a union activist and anticonscription campaigner. Hickey’s life and career illustrate the transnational migration of workers and their ideas in the early twentieth century.
Keywords: revolutionary industrial unionism, socialism, compulsory arbitration, New Zealand Federation of Labour, Red Feds, Western Federation of Miners, Industrial Workers of the World, Socialist Party, Miners, conscription
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