The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit FRIDAY JUNE 14, 1889. THE SWEATING SYSTEM.
The foremost social topic of the day is the sweating Bystem, against which a crieade is being carried on m Dunedin, with more prospect of good than generally results from such movements. A brief sketch of the evils of which the reform is aimed at will show that agita- , tion h»s not begun a day too Boon. They prevail mostly m thoße branches of manufacturing which are carried on by female labor, namely, making the cheaper , classes of s clothing, those of bags, and bo forth. The wholesale warehouses require certain trticles to be madnp. The material is generally cat m tho warehouse, and the work of making ie given to contractors at a scale agreed upon by the wholesale trade. These contractors employ labor at the lowest possible rates, and make I their profits from tha difference between the price they pay their workers and the price they m turn receive from the ware ■ housemen, This system has led to a ) continual screwing down of prices by the > contractors until the workers hare to ac- ' copt guch prices as can barely keep body ! aud soul together, even though they work ten, twelve, and sometimes as long t as fourteen hours a day. Most of the work is done m the workers' own homes, 1 so that the Factory Act does not apply, And there is no restriction m the hours f of work. By this slavery the workers for some of these contractors earn the I starvation wages of eight to ten shillings a week, sometimes perhaps a shilling or two more when the workiß exceptionally easy, or the worker ' is exceptionally strong and clever. ; The iniquity of this system has excited 1 the indignation of an influential section f of the community, and at public meet--3 ings an exposure has been made, not » only of the Bystem, but of those who r profit by it, A 'committee was appointed to take steps to remedy the evil. The matter was put before the wholesale ' traders, each of whom was asked to , agree to a minimum tariff of payment j for work, and to give no work to any t contractor who would not undertake to i pay his— or her, for most of these conr tractors are females — workers at least 1 the prices specified m the said tariff, " All agreed individually, but when the tariff was drawn up they refused to sign it, although admitting tbat the prices were fair, some of them being even lower than the existing scale. This disappointing reßult was communioated to a crowded publio meeting, at whioh [ the *ct;on of the warehousemen was ecathiogly oofidemned; and they f <?ere charged with " oaring more 1 for money than for men ; more 1 for gain than for the welfare of ! human lives." The managing director I of the «> Otago $aUy T»mes," said that . the facts which had been elicited \)y the • enquiries of that newspaper were per- ■ fectlv appalling, and he went on to ' charge a firm whom he named as being the cause of sweating having become a ~*««m among them, A Hoyal Pomsjbiv.. «,:„£ wynid tpke evidence upon mission, wiw - for, and oath,, and publish it, ... .... rt /' tiieir the odium which the publicatiou „. names would bring upon the sweaters, would go far to destroy the system. Subsequently most of the leading warehousemen fell m with the proposals of the Committee. This is a great step gained, and we wish our Dunedin friends every success m their agitation to root out this evil. Manufacturers and warehousemen are protected by the customs tariff against cheap foreign labor, and none will wibli to boo the sweating system with its horrors of semi-starva-tion worse than slavery, allowed to have an existence among us.