HARLE GILES'S PRIZE
Observer, Rōrahi XXIX, Putanga 19, 23 Kohitātea 1909, Page 2
HARLE GILES'S PRIZE
And the Howl of the Pisappointed
THE indignation of ' ' those trade unionists aiid political
■a-gitators who are heating the dru'rii of protest against Mr Harle Giles's appointment as one of the Conciliation Commissioners under the now Act, is not easy to understand. Ha« not Mr (Tiles been for years a prominent. official of the Liberal and Labour Federation in Auckland ? Ha.s he not biven prominent in. the reception of Ministers by the great Lib-Lab, organisation whenever they have visited Auckland, and also taken his part in election campaigns on behalf of the great Liberal Cause P Did not such services as these constitute what the Labour leaders themselves would consider a solid claim upon the party for any good things it had to bestow ? And in bestowing this £500 a year billet on Mr Giles have not the Government acted upon one of the principles dear to the Liberal agitators — that the spoils belong to the victors ? Harle Giles was one of the leaders among the victors, and has got his share of the spoils. That's all that has happened.
It Ls stattxl on the authority of Mr Giles himself that he did not ask for the appointment. Nobody, of course, supposes that he did. What probably happened was that the Prime Minister, easting his eyes around the country for men to act as Conciliators, hit upon Mr Giles as the most suitable ]>erson in the North, and therefore offered him the billet. And Mr Giles, to his credit be it said, put no obstacles in the Premier's way. If, in his modesty, he was diffident as to his claims upon the position, he would not dishearten the Premier by saying so. • Besides, a man of the Premier's eminence must be able to discern merit and ability where others failed to see it. Accordingly, Mr Giles put the claims of his country before all other considerations. Rather than disappoint the Premier and the country, he has accepted the office.
Possibly, had he known the pain that hie appointment would inflict upon a section of Auckland trades unionists he would have thought twice about taking it. The Political Labour League, and what is described as a "mass meeting" of trades unionists, numbering some 60 persons, are protesting vigorously against Mr Giles's appointment. They virtually threaten to wreck the conciliation sysbem, as far as their trades are concerned, if the appointment is persisted in, and to deal only with the Arbitration Court. This, of course, is very distressin — as much so to the new Conciliator as to the disaippointed aspirants to the post whose hands seem to be dimly discernible behind the agitation. How is any man to get a fair chance in conciliation if the unions who will be on one side of the disputes declare themselves hostile to him from the outset ?
By its resolution., the " mass meeting " declares that Mr Giles, as an adviser to the parties in a dispute, would be useless, if not dangerous, because he has had no experience in industrial disputes. But if it is true that Mr Giles has held aloof from industrial strife so far^ is not that rather a recommendation than a disqualification, in one whose function is to be to bring about peace between disputants ? Further, the mass meeting asiserts that Mr Giles h.as the confidence of neither employees nor employers. Whether the meeting waff en titled to speak for either party ma_y be often- to^ question, but it is, at any rate, refreshing to> find a trades union- meeting taking* cognizance of the views of em■yplo'y'ers for. onxxv in, a way. — when it • suite its own purpose.
. >• However, trades unions may storm or trades unions may fawn as they please, and employers may also protest — as, to do them justice, they seem disposed to do. Harle ■Giles is firmly established as a Conciliation Commissioner, and harring some such 'grievous mistake as might justify the Governor in' removing him from, office, he will hold the position for three years. The request ioha.t the; iselection l>e reconsidered by the Government is almost childish in its impotence, for by this time Mr Giles" tn'ust huve the Governor's letter of appointment in his pocket. In any case;" MT'-.Giles evidently-suppressed any objections he may Jiave had to. the acceptance of the billet by the reflection that the Premier knew a. good man when he saw one. In loyalty to their political chief, the trades unionists will have to do the same.