WATERSIDE WORKERS OUT.
NZ Truth , Putanga 435, 25 Whiringa-ā-nuku 1913, Page 3
WATERSIDE WORKERS OUT.
Employers Declare Agreement Annulled.
What's m a *Name— "Free Labor" v. Suitable Labor."
Men Ready for a Fight to a Finish
Summary of the Position,
A little spark may kindle a mighty conflagration. Even so a little strike may lead to most far-reaching industrial turmoil. The truth of this last is being exemplified by what has taken place on the Wellington wharves during the past few days. A handful We believe less than two dozen) of the Shipwrights' Union last week, made certain demands upon their employers m regard to increased, wages and conditions of labor. These demands the, employers, saw fit to refuse and the shipwrights "downed tools." It is obviously hard- for such a small body of men to flght.no t only a strong employer, but a combine of strong employers. This fact the shipwrights had recognised some time ago, and had taken steps to remedy. One of these steps was to disband their own union and become part and parcel of the Waterside Workers' Union. .It will bo seen at a glance that their prestige was considerably enhanced by this move. It means that should the shipping companies subsequently refuse to grant demands made by the shipwrights with the sanction of the union as a whole, not two dozen hut NEARLY 2000 MEN would be involved m the dispute. This is exactly" what has eventuated. The shipwrights made their demands, which the employers refused. The men, as already stated, immediately "downed tools," and put their position In, the hands the Water-, sillers' Unjon. On .Wednesday morning last' a "stop work" meeting was called m order that a "fully represen-. tative f gathering of the. member* of the union, might hear the strikers' delegates, and decide as to further action, if any. At this meeting, whichlasted a little over an hour, it was decided to leave the settlement of the dispute unreservedly In the hands of the Federation of Labor. Thl3 agreed .upon, "the men returned to their various posts with the object of resuming work. It was then they found that m their absence a "shuffling of the gangs" had taken place, and they were not allowed to resume work m toehold positions. Some were ordered to other jobs and. others sent adrift to await THE NEXT "SELECTION. 1 This treatment was very indignantly resented by the men, and at an indignation meeting held at midday— a meeting declared to be the largest ever held— it was decided to call out all hands until every man affected by the "shuffling** tactics of the employers was reinstated m his old position. 'This resolution of the men, may be said to constitute a strike,' and it ■might .have been accepted as such were it not thai the subsequent action of the employers has brought a now and more contentious element in-' to the dispute. Contrary to the statements made m the day-lie plute press, the decision of the men to demand that the men affectejtl be reinstated was never delivered to the employers. The latter, however," met on. Wednesday afternoon, and,- apart from all other considerations, decided that m holdlna the "stop work*' meeting the men had deliberately broken clause 2S oC their mutual .agreement of January, 1912, therefore they, the employers, regard said agreement and all conditions and concessions contained therein as NO LONGER BINDING UPON THEM. Such a declaration or ultimatum from the employers may be very falrjy Interpreted as a "lock-out," and as Huch the union is inclined to regard it. This we consider a tactical blunder on the part of tho employers, ns it will have the effect of making the men more determined to fight ihe Jamie to a finish. The plute press, Liboral and Tory, Is making the usual howl over tho lerriblo crime the wharfles are supposed to have committed In breaking their agreement by holding the "stop work" meeting referred to. What Truth" would like the publio to understand lH that this la not the first meeting of the kind- Such meetings some of which caused cessation of work for a considerably longer period than did that of Wednesday last, have been held m the past, since the agreement was entered into, and NO OBJECTION' TAKEN TKJSRE.TO. H seemed to be recognised jronerally thai only by such means could what might be termed a properly representative ineeUnff of tho members r.f tho union be held, m allowing Much meetings to bo instituted, iho employers hnvo become parties to tho breach of tho agreement, should such l>e held U> constitute thu same. Whether the action of tho wateraiders is 111 or well advised m striking ns they have done la now outside u»o pale of discussion. Tho only fact that ull loyal unionism have to consider la that the fight fa on and their bounden duty jsio stand aolidly togoUier'and light to a flnlßh. When "Truth" went to press on Friday atepa were being token tomako the strike a national one ulonjf tho N«sw Zealand "water-front."