In 1942 Bert O’Keefe agreed to stand for the presidency. One of Bert’s campaign platforms was to appoint local organising staff to assist members at the grassroots level.
So the decision was made to appoint local organising staff and Gerald Griffin was the first, in Wellington, in 1945. He was followed a year later by a Mr McNichol in Auckland; “Horry” Strong in Christchurch and “Bookie” Bowler in Dunedin were hired soon after. The job title given to them was secretary-organiser in recognition of their role as secretary to the section (or branch) committee of delegates.
Gerald Griffin announced his intention to recruit 10,000 new members in Wellington (total PSA membership at the time was 23,697). He set up his own office on Lambton Quay (near where Parsons Bookshop is now located). Later he controversially arranged to interview members in a coffee bar near by.
A well as being a committed unionist, he was a lifelong passionate activist in “the struggle for Irish freedom”, the “dominant influence in my life”. He was also involved in left-wing political causes, a Marxist, and the centre of an international incident relating to the peace movement in the inter-war period.
For more on Gerald Griffin go here.