"It Looks Fishy"
Maoriland Worker, Rōrahi 6, Putanga 218, 14 Paengawhāwhā 1915, Page 4
"It Looks Fishy"
Mr. Wigg in the Witness Box
Administering an "Arbitration ,, Union
NO QUORUMS AND MINUTE BOOK LEAVES MISSING.
In a recent issue of "The Worker" wo referred to the Auckland case in which the Federated Seamen's Union (the bona ficlo organisation) sued the "Arbitration" concern, tho "Auckland Seamen's and Firemen' 9 Union," claiming £50 penalty for a breach of an industrial agreement made between the defendant "unicii" and the Northern S.S. Go., Ltd., tho said breach consisting of tho fart, that, on tho loth day of April, 1014, tho defendant did rrfuso to admit to membership a man of good character, to wit, one William Simpson, of Auckland, fireman, contrary to tho provisions of clause 27 (f) of tho said industrial agreement. Simpson's evidence was to tho olfeut that ho had first Leon told, on applying for membership, that ho would be ballottcd for. Later on ho was told by Wigg that ho had besn accepted as a member. Still luter Wigg told him that a resolution had been adopted which prevented him from becoming a member. Ho was next told they were bringing his case on again. Finally, Wigg told him that ho would not be accepted as a member because he had been on tho Strike Committee, and was an undesirable member and not eligible. Another seaman, James Breen, confirmed Simpson's statement. Wigg had said that Simpson was a dangerous man. "Wβ have got to know about you being on the Committee of tho Strike," he said, "you uro no use to us." The following is a report of the evidence given by George Wigg. secretary of the "Arbitration" Union, who was the first witness railed for tho defence. Mr. Kettle asked: "Did Simpson apply to you to be admitted as a member of your union?" Witness: "No, he did not. I never took his name doui, nor the name of his ship." Mr. Kettle: "W'n? Ins name submitted P" Witness: "Simpson has never applied, mid was never refusod admission." Mr. Prondergast: "Has he beea to your office?" Witness: "Yes. Some "time in April lie came and asked mc what it would cost to join the union. I said ss. f.>r entrance f<'e, and '2s~. as a. month's subscription, 7s. in all. Simpson sa<H he would see mo later on. Simpson came in again, when Mr. Nicholson was present, and asked if I would let him go into a ship without joining the union. Ho said ho had not tho money then, but would pay later on. I said I am sorry, old man, the entrance fee has gone up to 10s." Mr. Kettle: "Then ho did ask you to join the union?" Witness: "He asked mc to trust him for the money. I said I could not do bo, and told him I was 6nly a servant. Simpson has not since applied for membership. He never made a formal application to bo admitted. A3 a member. Hβ was always 'throwing mud' at us on the wharf. I mean by' that, using nasty oppressions, referring to something about our union." Mr. Kettle: "You heard Brcen's evidence, that you said Simpson was ;in undesirable man?"' Witness: ''That is untrue. I never said such a thing." Mr. Kettle: "A , conflict of evidence." To Mr. Skelton: "Simpson nover led mo to believe ho wanted to join the union." Mr. Skolton: "You are not making a mistake?" Witness: "I don't think so; it is a long time ago." Mr. Skolton: "You have' made two cic-liberato conflicting statements. I ask you which is the true one." Witness: "I said ho asked mc if I would admit him into the union without paying the foes." Mr. Skclton: "Have you not ballotted for members?" Witness: "We have not, in the full sense of the word." Mr. Prendergast: "Is that question relevant. We have only to deal with whether or not this man was refused admission to the Auckland Seamen's and Firemen's Union?" Witness: '"The process is this. Wo never had any ballot balls in our Union. I read out every one of tho applicants' names, and the papers were passed round all present. Tho chairman then stood up and said, 'You have seen ilia names and tho papers. Has anyone of you got any objection? All in favour hold up tho right hand, contrary, carried.' That is all that is done. Where it is stated in the minutes as being ballotted for, that is an error on my part." Mr. Skelfcon: "How many times have yon mado that error?" Witness: 'THTiEE OR FOUR TIMES." Mr. Skellon: "Does that account for tho alterations of the minutes from 'ballot' to 'was accepted'?" Mr. Kettle: "Who altered that, and when was it altered?" Witness: : 'I COULD NOT TELL YOU." Mr. Kettlo: "When was it altered?" Witness: "I COULD NOT TELL YOU." Mr. Kettle: "There is a pencil alteration that has bcon inked over, WHICH IS MOST IMPROPER. That should have been done at tho next inr-oting. Witness: "We were only acting in innocence in the Union at that timo, and did riot knn'w better." Mr. Skolton: "Did you Simpson h<> had ,Wti ballot ted for?" Witness: "T niny have said so. I may liavo said to him, 'I will take your application, nnd y>u will ho hn'llottcd for in clue course' T say Simpson nnver madr application in proper form." Mr. Kettlo: "Wns his name ever |pu> beforo tho meeting?"
Witness: "No." Mr. Kettle: "You swear Simpeon's namo was not among the 46?" Witness: "I do." Mr. Kettle: "And that you never took down his name?" Witness: "I do." Mr. Kettle: "And that hia name was novar submitted to a meeting:"' AVitness: "I do. I do not remember Simpson's name ever going before the Executive I bad suggested to Simpson ho should join the new Union." Mr. Skelton: "Did you ever report tho fnoD that this man who had stood out wanted to join your Union?" Witness: I might have mentioned tho fact, but I did not report it officially." Mr. Skelton here drew witness's attention to the fact that SEVERAL PAGES WERE MISSING FROM THE MINUTE BOOK. AVitness: "I tore those out myself. They did not contain minutes of executive meetings." .. Mr. Kettle: "Why did you cut them out " Witness: "There were no minutes in that paxt of the book. These pages were used for something else before. These looso leaves had nothing to do with Executive meetings. It was some scribble 1 had in the book." Mr. Kettle: "It is an extraordinary thing that some four or five pages should be taken out in this manner. Yon cut practically a clenn book." AVitness: "All meetings of the Executive were reported in another hook until May, then it was decided to open up another book." Mr. Kettle: "You say positively there was no report in this book of meetings from the 19th of November iup till the 9th of May?" Witness: "Yes." Mr. Kettle: "IT'S A FUNNY THING THESE LEAVES WERE OUT OUT." Witness: "The first general meeting was nbonfc November, but I was not present at it. I was at the next ono." Mr. Skelton: "There were two, probably not more than five Executive meetings held between tho Ist of January and the beginning of May." AVitness: "I think there were not moro than three." Mr. Skolton: "The management of the Union is vested in the Executive. Now, in February, March, and April, were there meetings of the Executive held?" AVitness: "At times we could not got a quorum. WE HAD SEVERAL MEETINGS WITH NO QUORUMS. I cannot say how many meetings of the Executive were held." Mr. Skelton: "Did you hold two meetings?" Witness: "Suppose you could not get a quorum, what were we to to doP" Mr. Skelton: "Then who conducted the business of,tho Union from the end of January to the beginning of May?" Witness: "I presume the secretary would have to do it to the best of his ability. I sent out notices for eight or ten meetings." Mr. Skelton: "How many meetings have you held in that time?" Witness: "I cannot toll. We keep no diary of meetings where there was no quorum. By the books, THERE AVAS ONLY ONE MEETING WHERE WE HAD A QUORUM." Mr. Skelton: "AYhat did you buy this book for?" AA'itnoss: "To write out reports of general meetings." Mr. Skelton: "Did you make any reports?" AVitness: "Yes." Mr. Skelton: "AA ? here are they now?"' AVitness: "They were' scribbled memorandums, rough memos." Mr. Skelton: "Were they your reports of tho meetings?" AVitness: "I can assure you, Mr. Skelton, I never cut those leaves out for any particular purpose. I do not know what was on those pages. They were cut out twelve months ago." Mr. Kettle: "In this book, you wrote on £he front sheet, 'Minutes of Auckland Seamen and Firemen's Union, November, 1913, to blank. . You intended to use the book for those purposes when you wrote that?" AVitness: "I expect I have written that in later." Mr. Skelton: "I draw your attention to the fact that the general book has this written in it, 'Minutes of Union, from 18th November, 1913.' That book wa.s opened on the 18th of November. Your first meeting was held on that date?" .Witness: "WE HAD NO MINUTE BOOK FOR A MONTH OR SIX WEEKS." Mr., Kettle: "The other book is the ono for the Executive?" Witness: "I acknowledge myself IT LOOKS FISHY." Mr. Kettle: "I did not like to use tho word, but as you have adopted it, IT IS QUITE A PROPER TERM. From January to May there is only one meeting recorded." AA r itness: "That is because wo could not got a quorum." Mr. Kett'e: "It may bo that what you say is true, but it is funny; IT LOOKS AS IF THE MINUTES HAD BEEN TORN OUT." Mr. Skelton: "AVhat was written, on these pages that wcro cut out?" Witness: "I generally gave reports of tho meetings verbally." Mr. Skelton: "Did these pages corn tnin tlin minutes between these dates?" AVitness: "I never out any leaves out of that book that had minutes on tliem. That was not the minute book at the timo I cut thoso pages out. T took thoso pao;Gs out and used them for snmerliintr rise. Tho books were, too small, this imi<=r have- been written botween January find February." Mr. Skolton: "Then it is not tnio what ynu swore some time ago, that this book was purchased sis months .after tkx% onof."
Witness: "I was not secretary in 1918. I was not appointed until the 22nd of November. I wrote that some time in May, I thiuk, because on Nov. 19 I was not secretary. That writing was an error on my part." Mr. Skclton: "Do you say that you had only one Executive meeting between Nov. 18, 1913, and May, 1914?" Witness: "I think there are three shown on the general book." Mr. Kettlo: "Were all minutes recorded?" Witness: "Yes." Mr. Skelton: "From January to May was the most important period of your Union, as it was then the agreement was made between it and the Northern Company." Witness: "That camo before the general meeting." Mr. Skelton: "Was there no Executive meeting regarding such an important matter?" Witness: "1 believe there was." Mr. Skelton: "Show mc the minute." Witness: "I am afraid I cannot do that. The general committee minute book shows about it." Mr. Kottlo: "Where are the minutes authorising you to put the Union's seal on this agreement?" Witness: " THE INDUSTRIAL AGREEMENT WAS EXECUTED BY A FEW OF US CALLED TOGETHER FOR, THAT PURPOSE. An Executive meeting was called, but we had no quorum. The agreement of the 31st of December bears the common seal." Mr. Skelton: "Then where are the minutes of the meeting of the Executive, called to put the seal upon that agreement?" . Witness: "I don't think it was sealed at a meeting of the Executive. That was done at a general meeting." Mr. Skelton: "Then show us the minutes of that general meeting at which it was done." Witness: "All minutes of properly constitutfid meetings are duly recorded. There were several little 'confabs' between ourselves, but whenever we had a quorum that meeting was recorded in the minutes." Mr. Kettle: "THEN THERE WAS NO SPECIAL MEETING HELD AT WHICH A RESOLUTION WAS PASSED AUTHORISING THIS MAN TO SEAL THE INDUSTRIAL AGREEMENT." Mr. Skelton: "Will you swear Simpson did not call at your office on four different occasions?" Witness: "To the best of my knowledge he came on only two occasions. I did not say, 'Too late; you have missed the 'bus.' There may have been some joking words like that. I did not tell him, 'In your case the ballot will take place on Saturday; you had better call on Monday.' We parted good friends, and I asked him to call back again, but ho did not do so. Simpson has only called twice at the office when I was present." Mr. Skelton: "Did you tell Simpson he would havo to be ballotted for?" Witness: "I THINK SO. I don't think he called on mc on the first of April at all." Mr. Kettlo: "Simpson has sworn he saw you on that date." Witness: "That is not true." Mr. Kettle: "Is it true he was there at your office on the first of April?" Witness: "I won't swear he was not there, but I only saw him on two occasions. We had two,, interviews about the 6th or the 7th." Mr. Kettlo: "You swear Simpson was never refused admission to the Union?" Witness: "That is bo." Mr. Kettle: "Did Simpson ever tender you any money?" Witness: "No., sir, not at any time." In reply to Mr. Skelton, the witness admitted that he had asked Simpson to sign an application form, but he said Simpson had refused to do this. [The balance of Mr. Wigg's evidence in this remarkable caso will be printed in our next issue.]