The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 1889. THE LABORER S' STRIKE.
The great strike of the London Dock laborers appears to have extended to unskilled laborers generally m the waterside districts of the metropolis, and its * progress is watched with interest, and it j may be m some places anxiety, through- ! out the civilised world. Many great strikes have taken place during the last quarter of a century, but all of them have been confined to, or organised by, powerful trades' unions, whose funds, with contributions from other Unions, were sufficient to keep the strikers from want until the differences with the era-i ployers were settled. Jn the present I instance a very inconsiderable number of the strikers either belong to any*society, or have accumulated any savings. In fact the number of men said to be on strike makes it evident that their ranks include the large class known as casual laborers, who ar« only employed on emergency, and will only work when the humor seizes them or necessity compels them, and who float from place to place up and down England, living heaven knows now. Men of this class are ready to the hand of the Socialist agitator, and are seen m their strength at socialist and political demonstrations, but though they cheer the utterances of the leaders they are keen-witted enough to take them at their value. The temper m which the strike has been carried out has greatly extended the feeling of sympathy for the strikers, and it is not surprising to see that assistance has been sent from Australia to their aid, and to find expression of a general wish that the increased rate of pay demanded may be obtained. It has been said that fivepence an hour is a fair rate of payment for such labor at Homo, but it must be remembered that the dock hours of labor are short, and the earnings a man constantly employed and getting his share of over-time would not average more than twenty-three shillings a week. But the great mass of the waterside laborers are, bb we have said, only casually employed, and many of them who live m . the locality and depend for their living upon this work, earn an average of only ten to fifteen shillings a week. The condition of this section of the laborers has long been 1 a difficulty with social reformers and philanthropists, and many efforts have been made for its amelioration. Improved dwellings at low rents have done much, but this class are difficult to deal with, and often prefer to remain among old associations rather than make the change from squalor from overcrowding to order, light and air. Increased wages would do something, but not everything to better this condition of affairs. The JJ ock companies as a whole cannot be accused of enriching themselves at the expense of the lab; rors. The chief among them, the the London and St Katherine'e, pays but a nominal dividend on the immense capital invested, and any increase m wages will fall upon shippers, who already complain of high charges. We hope that the strike may soon end, and that the agitation thus begun may result m some reform m the system of employment, so that those who are at call for the performance of work that must be done may receive at least the means of livelihood.
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