A War Against Women.
Observer, Rōrahi X, Putanga 613, 27 Mahuru 1890, Page 6
A War Against Women.
THE ' OBSERVER ' AND THE TYPOGRAPHICAL
AN INSTRUCTIVE CORRESPONDENCE.
As the members of ihe Auckland Typographical Association (which for sake of brevity we may call the Typ. Aps.) have evaded all invitations to reason together with us on the subject of female labour, but have instead assumed an arrogant and dictatorial tone, we shall this week, instead of resuming the argument as to the justice, propriety and expediency of women working at typesetting, content ourselves with laying before our readers an account of the negotiations between ourselves and the Typ. Ass., with copies of letters that have passed. It is about five weeks since we received the first intimation that the Typ. Ass. wished to have a controlling voice in our business, when we bad sent us a copy of the rules of that body, which rules contained paragraphs dealing with the regulation of the conditions of labour of men and boys in the printing trade, but completely ignored the existence of female labour, although for about fifteen years there have been lady compositors in Auckland. Next we learnt from a Herald report (and it is curions, by the way, that the avowed organ of Capital and enemy of Trade-Unions has been alone privileged to report the proceedings of the Typ. Ass.) that the printers had by a resolutiou declared that they would make NO CONCESSION AS TO FEMALE LABOUR. We were not long left in doubt as to what this might mean, for in a few days afterwards, a deputation of eight or nine persons wearing bifurcated nether garments, and otherwise bearing the semblance of men — most of them utter strangers to us, and not one of theni in our employ— called on us, and requested to be informed what we intended doing in the matter of the Typographical Association rules. We expressed ourselves willing to meet the views of the printers by every means in our power ; but apart from the question of justice to our lady employees, we pointed out that it was impossible for us to comply with the Union rules, on the ground that it would involve a heavy financial loss. Members of the deputation argued that we would find male labour as cheap and effective as female ; but we proved the opposite to them, out of the mouth of our foreman, Mr J. Turner, late President of the Typographical Association and predent Vice-President of the Trades and Labour Council. Then the deputation executed a change of front. They suggested that, if we would dismiss the lady compositors, they would allow us to employ CHEAP BOY LABOUR INSTEAD ! This is an absolute fact, and ought to be kept in mind in view of later developments. The cold-blooded proposal was that we should send away the girls, get about an equal number of boys at one third the wages earned by the girls, and the money so saved would enable us to employ two more journeymen. This confirmed us in our suspicion that this was no ordinary Trade Union movement, but an organised War Against Women. In effect, these gallant delegates said—' We will not enforce our rules as to cheap , boy labour, only get rid of the girls, for God's sake !' It required the exercise of all our Belt* control to calmly discuss this horribly degrading proposal ; but sentiment was for the nonce thrust aside, and the matter was considered on commercial grounds. There were conditions attached to this concession of cheap boy labour, which showed us that trade rivalry was at work in the matter. The new non-liability partners in our business would only grant ue permission to employ boys on condition that we relinquished certain branches of the trade. As we did not at the moment know how this would affect the question, we promised to consider the proposal and communicate our decision in writing. Then ths deputation withdrew. The following ia our reply to the Typographical Association, and we may entitle it —
AN APPEAL TO B^ ALLOWED TO LIVE. Observer Office. Auckland. Sept. 11, 1890. To the President and Members of the Auckland Typographical Association. Gentlemen, — We have carefully considered the rules formulated by j our Association, in so far as they propose to affect us, and have a)B'-> considered the representations made by your deputation to us on 6th .inst., and we beg to reply as follows : — 1 — We dissent altogether from the rule forbidding the employment of females, as being — (a) Unjust and cruel to the females now in situations as compositors (b) f]ari=h, arbitrary, unreasonable, and unnecessarily dislocative of existing arrangements. (c) opposed to public feeling', sense of fairness, social exj/ediency, and equal rights of women. id) Oppressive and vexatious to us as employers, who took over a business where female labour was established, and which businiss is still hi a strugi?Hug anil unreni-nerative condition. 2.— We therefore suggest that you should accept a modification of the rule, in one or other of the following 1 directions, viz : — (c) Admitting females to the trade, on the same terms and conditions as males, as to apprenticeship, but' with joumeywomen's wages fixed at 20 per cent, lass than in the case of journeymen ; or . f) Allowing fe -nales now at the trade to complete their term of apprenticeship ; or (g) Giving six months' notice of the termination of present engagements of female compositors. 3. — We oould not enter into a permanent undertaking to abandon job printing, in return for the concessions as to male apprentices which were outlined by your deputation.
4 — Our only alternatives being — To raise the price of the Observer to the public, to continue existing labour arrangements, or to abandon the business altogether ; arid it being manifest that the first; and last of these are practically identical, we hope you will make such alteration in your rules as will permit us, for some time at least, to carry on the busin«ss on its present lines, without interference from your Union. 5. - Should you not be able to acoede to this request, we shall be compelled to declare the office a non-Union one. 6.— ln view of such contingency, and as one of your deputation hinted at coercive or retaliatory measures, we would respectfully beg to be informed — (/i) Do these measures simply mean the withdrawal of Union labour from our office ? or (i) Do they include an atlempt to boycott us, and those with whom we do business ? 7. — We trust you will recognise the importance of the considerations raised by these questions and will give us plain and straightforward indications of your intententions. In our experience of Typographical Unions, they have never attempted to cast discredit or odium upon employers of non-Union labour, or female labour, or upon the employees. In many cities, non-Union offices exist peacefully side by side with Union offices, and some of the non-Union establishments admittedly give the highest rate of wages, and are most useful and efficient both to the printing trade and the public 8. — We should naturally prefer to carry with us the goodwill of the entire printing trade in Auckland, but we cannot do this at the cost of a sacrifice of justice, a disregard of the public interest, and our own financial ruin, 9. — We shall therefore bo obliged to you if you would kindly state the position in which a non-society office would be placed here — the fresh development of Unionist tactics making this a matter of great uncertainty. The withdrawal of Union members from our office we should deeply regret, but if the matter envied there, we might still be able to carry on the business with acceptance to the public, a fair degree of comfort to our employees, and security to ourselves. 10. — If, however, we are to be subjected to a boycott at the hands of the federated trades, for claiming the right to conduct our own business in our own way, within the strict limits of a law which fully protects female labour, we frankly confess that the situation would be entirely altered. 11.— We should then have to submit, with what grace we could, to superior force ; dismiss an esteemed body of female employees, with whom we have no fault to find, and who are perfectly contented with their position ; attempt to obtain the necessary financial support from the public to enable us to employ male labour, in terms of your rules, and failing such support, retire from the position of employers and become to somo extent competitors for work alongside members of your Union. 12. — We cannot believe that it is the deliberate intention of your society to inflict an injustice upon the female compositors now in the business, to harass a struggling industry, or to restrict trade in any way. We therefore beg of you to reconsider your position, in view of the facts and considerations we have placed before you. The facts we are prepared to substantiate in any way you desire ; the considerations we confidently leave with you and with every fair-minded man. Awaiting the favour of your reply, We are, Gentlemen, Yours very truly, Kelly and JBauli
In due course, and after a long meeting of the Typ. Ass., at which the former minority in favour of female labour was considerably strengthened, we received the following reply, which may fairly be entitled— AN OUTBAGEOUri AND IMPUDENT ULTIMATUM. Auckland Typographical Association. Auckland, Sept. 17th, 1890. Messrs Kelly and Baulj, Proprietors, Observkr and Fkee Lance. Gentlemen, — Mr Fisher, president of the above Association, has placed in my hands your letter of the 11th mat., and has instructed me to reply thereto in the following terms : — 1. That your letter was read at the special meeting of the Association held on Saturday evening l«st, 13th mst., in conjunction with a letter received from Mr H. Brett, of the Evening Star, and a report furnished by the deputation appointed to wait upon you and the other master printers of Auckland.-2. As an answer to your letter I am to draw your attention to the following resolution, which was carried by a iair majority of members present at the meeting above referred to, viz., ' That this meeting does not deny the rigbt of women to aspire to any position m life they prove themse.ives capable of tilling ; but the Society, being desirous of strengthening its uosicion by affiliation with the Australasian Typographical Union, whose rules do not recognise the eligibility of femaies as members, it has, therefore, to decline the candidature of women i'or membership. In order, however, tha.', no hardship may be entaailed on those females employed as compositors in Auckland at the present time, it is hereby resolved that the services may bn retained of all journeywomen now working at the trade, and also those of all legally-indentured i'emale apprentices on the completion of their, terms of apprenticeship, provided their remuneration shall be at the rate of not less than £2 10s per week of 48 hours. All female apprentices not indentured prior to the Ist September, 1890, do not come under the provisions of this resolution, and will not be recognised by the Society.' 3. As the ladies employed in your office are not apprentices, but have been a long time at the trade, and are able to compete with men, it will therefore be necessary for you to comply with that portion of the resolution giving them the same wages as you would have given t o men, viz., .£2 10s, if you desire to run your office on Unisn lines. 4. If you refuse to do this, I have but to remind you
that our new rules .will come into operation on the Ist October, that they wilt be strictly enforced, and every effort will be made to prevent the employment of cheap labour, either boy or girl, in your office, or in any other. If on that date you do not place your girls on the same footing as those journeywomon employed in the Evening Star office, but insist on keeping them employed at a ch<?ap rate, our Association will be compelled, in order to protect those master printers who pay full wages, to Xjlace the whole matter into the hands o f our executive body to be further dealt with by them. I have the honor to be, Gentlemen, Yours respectfully, Fred Christmas, Secretary, A. T. A. ,
The intent and meaning of this cunningly-worded document may be gathered from the counter-ultimatum which we have now forwarded, "and which we shall call— A KICK AT SELFISHNESS, DESPOTISM, AND LABOUR LUNACY. Observer Office, Auckland, 'Sept. 24th, 1890. To the President and Members of Auckland Typographical Association. Gentlemen, — We beg to acknowledge receipt of your secretary's letter of 17th inst., and we note with regret that, instead of responding to our plea for justice to our female compositors and fairness to ourselves, you have made your conditions more arbitrary, cruel, unreasonable, and unjust than before. 1. — You refuse our plea that the girls in our employ should be allowed to complete their term of apprenticeship, now little more than half expired, but demand instead that we shall at once pay them full journeymen's wages. Do you call that fair, just, or reasonable ? 2. —You turn a deal ear to our prayer for six months' grace for ourselves and our female employees, to enable r.s to make fresh arrangements. Is that the action of enlightened, humane or Christian men ? 3. — You ignore our appeal for freedom, as the oniy means of averting financial ruin from ourselves, and preventing the extinction of an organ which is widely appreciated. Can you defend that as the act of men who love their fellows, or who deserve public respect ? 4. — You decline to give any assurance that we will be allowed, tn carry on business on non-Union lines, while you plainly repeat and endorse the threat made by the deputation and lead us to expect an application of the brutal ond barbarous boycott. Are you prepared to justify this conduct, before any competent tribunal, as being dghteous or lawful? By the dictatorial toue of your. letter, aud the absurdity of your arbitrary conditions, you leave us really no choice whatever. If your attitude is representative of Trade-Unionism, we wish to have uothing whatever to do with it ; we shall shun it as wo would the Bottomless Abyss. But we still incline to the belief that you are actuated by mistaken zeal, rather than by> diabolical malice, and we therefore shall give you one more chance to retrace your steps. With that view we ask your attention to a few aspects of the matter which may have escaped you. Has it never occurred to your Association that it has no more right than ' the man in the street ' to interfere between us and employees who are not members of your Union ? .. Has it never ptrucfc you that your Union has no legal sanction or recognition, save as a noxious thing requiring to be controlled ? Would you not do well to direct your energies towards obtaining a legal footing for your Union, instead of insolently interfering with people who have no connection with it ? If you wish to control the conditions of female labour, do you not see that you must get the eirls into your Union ? If you recognise the right of women to work as coinpositoi-, on the same terms as men, why should you order us to pay female apprentices the wages of journeymen? Since affiliation with Sydney causes you to be unjust and illogical, inconsistent with yourselves, and ridiculous in the eyes of others, why should you not sever the connection ? How can you profess to bo zealous for the extirpation of ' cheap labour, either boy or givl,' in face o£ your offer to displace our girls by cheaper boy labour? Is your avowed desire to protect, the interests of certain printers a confession that you are being made the tools of some of our rivals in business, or is it a mere clumsy attempt to conceal the flagrant brutality and cruel selfishness of your tactics ? Has it never dawned upon you that the fathers, brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins and other male relatives of these lady compositors, who are to be found in every Tr«id«-Unioniti Auckland, will resist and resent tue. insulc uv.-l injustice which you throw upon their daughters, si.-tera, etc. ? "A c do not ask these questions with a view to provoking a wordy warfare, but rather that each man among you may put them to his own conscience and judgment. We wish to have nothing further to say to your Ass., save ar.d except you are prepared to COMPLY WITH OUR ULTIAIATUM,
which is as follows : — ll— That you must, without further notice, repe ilyour iniquitous law forbidding females to enter the printing trade. . ■ ' . 2 — That you must, immediately and u?ii?onditionally, withdraw your letter to us of date 17th ii.^t. .3. — That you- must also specifically withdrew vmr threat to prevent us fr^m employicg such labour .*-, we choose, ou such' terms as are agreeable to our einpl-jjees and ourselves/ 4.*— That you must, each individual member oi' .your Union, enter into a written pledge not to mole.it us in any way in the conduct of our business,' nob to induct* any person to leave our employment, and not to 'boyjofct' us in any manner or form. (No honest, law-abiding man need hesitate about the rightness of signing such a >ond). Un l ess you do all and each of these things by MON DAY, 6th OCTOBER NEXT, we warn you— you, President
FjbHer— you, Fred Christmas — you, Thomas Stanley Gibbins— you, Joseph Caenachan — you others of the deputation whose names we do not know — you hundred or more members of the Typ. Ass., whose names wo intend to publish in full — we warn you all ihat we shall denounce you, in the face of Heaven and of ftll good men and women — As fools and tools of designing master printers, who are eager to ruin struggling rivals in trade ; As selfish schemers who are trying to throw deserving girls and women out of employment, in order to make room for idle, drnnken and worthless men (aoca'led) who are unfit for the trade ; As dupps of the greatest of all the delusions that have come to the surface during the present epidemic of Labour Lunaoy ; As disturbers of the industrial peace, and criminal lunatics of the most dangerous type ; As oppressors nf the weaker sex, whom you would condemn to starvation, or shameful dependence ; As exponents of a bastard Trade-Unionism, which wo"1d be a tHsgrtioe to a hordrf of Hottentots ; Aivl as foes to social order, law, and liberty. Remember, gentlemen, we have not called you those names : we only threaten, in the milde -t and most gentlemanly manne r possible, to do so. We simply employ your own tactics, but with this difference— On one side are Eight, Law, Freedom, Reason, Religion and Public Opinion. But, even if we have used hard epithets towards you, we are willing to withdraw them all, if you only comply with the terms of our Ultimatum. We would remind you that to comply with this demands no sacrifice of principle or even of money on your part — only a graceful admission that your policy is a mistaken one. Wo ask no favour at your hands — only that you grant us the rights of freemen, and the pi-ivilege of being let alone, as long as we obey the law. This do and live ! But, if you threaten our industrial existence, we threaten you with social ostracism and the contempt and loathing of all free, honest men ; we warn you that we shall make yon Auckland printers a reproach and a hissing all over the civilised world ; that your names and your tactics shall stink in the nostrils of every decent person ; and that your mothers, wives, sisters and sweethearts shall despise you, as ' cowardly foes of their sex and as unworthy the name of men. Gentleman, the Observer office is a non-Union one, until you comply with our terms. We await with patience the ' dealing ' of your Executive, and beg to remain meanwhile, Yours most sincerely, Kellt and Baulf 1 .