A Notable Exception.
Maoriland Worker, Volume 1, Issue 2, 15 October 1910, Page 13
A Notable Exception.
Finally, it is Avith a breath of relief that one reads the clear and sane comments of the Christchurch "Star" —-almost the only newspaper of importance Avhich exercised a sound judgment in commenting on this great dispute. The shearers haye Avon their case, and Avon it at the point of the bayonet, so to speak. All the talk and all the pointing and all the quarrelling might just as Avell have been cut out. The Court had before it when it started very much the same information as it had when it finished. The reference of the matter to the Conciliation Commissioners produced nothing in the shape of evidence that could possibly guide the Commissioners. Indeed, AA-hen the special commission met in Christchurch the representative of the employers tried, Avith the assistance of Air Triggs, to bounce, driA'e or drag the secretary of the Shearers' Union into doing something AA'hich he flatly declined to do, and that, apparently, aa as the end of the matter. AYe are not told Avhat has transpired in the interim to Avarrant the Court in making the aAvard that it declined to make at an earlier stage. AYe were left Avith the supposition that no aAvard Avould be made unless the Commissioners made a recommendation. If the Commissioners gathered sufficient information to form the basis of a recommendation, the fact Avas not apparent to the public ; ancl if they made a recommendation, nothing Avas said about it in Court. According to a Press Association telegram, Mr Laracy did say, AA'heii the Court met in Wellington, that he aa; anted it made clear that the Commissioners had made a recommendation ; but, as the Judge at once said, " AVhere is it? We have not got it," the assumption Avas that Mr Laracy AA-as misreported, or else that he Avas misinformed. AYe do not like the unnecessary reticence that has been observed over this matter. If the Commissioners made a recommendation, the Judge ought to have said so, and the terms ought to have been made public. If they failed to recommend, they should have reported to that effect to the Court, and a public statement should ha T e explained their position. But, after all, the point ceases to be important AA'hen it is recalled that the Court had no evidence from the AAorkers before it. The eA-idence of half a dozen emploA'ers AA-as taken in AYellington, but if their evidence had influenced the aAA-ard the shearers Avould have fared badly. The point that stands out is that the shearers have won by boldness. They stated their demands, and stuck to them, ancl the Court Avas faced Avith the alternatives of conceding those demands and leaA'ing the employers to get labour by private arrangement— presumably on the basis of 22s 6d a hundred. AVhat has happened is that the Court has recognised the necessity for accepting the AA-orkers' demands in the main, but has whittled them down by taking sixpence off the machine rate and clocking half a pound of butter and half a pound of jam from the Aveekly rations. One of the lessons of the dispute is the of organisation. The shearers Avere strong enough to stick to their demands. When the Court threatened to giA'-e the employers freedom of contract. Air Laracy Avas able to say that he Avould be glad to have it. Another lesson of the dispute is that, if the arbitration system is to last many years longer, the President of the Court -will haA-o to be a stronger man than the Judge who iioav occupies the position. It is ridiculous that the hearing of an important dispute should degenerate into a game of poker, each side endeavouring to out-bluff the other. All the expense and trouble could have been saved if the Court had taken up a dignified, firm position at the outset.