The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 18, 1890. STATE LABOR REFERENDUM.
' In Monday's issue of the "Guardian," when referring to the " complete boycott " Jby, the Trades Unions-to bring the Shag Point Coal mine dispute to an end, we called attention to the urgent necessity for State interference in.'similar disputes. Under the "complete boycott" system labor enters upon* open :revolt, not only against masters who infringe upon its rights, but against-all who, mi the ordinary, course of trade, carry the manufac-l turer's goods, or'in any way assist him,' as hitherto, to conduct his business.' This intention was made manifestly cleai", in the case of the Sb^ag Point, coal strike,, by the orders issued from' the Maritime .Council to members of affiliated Unions not to handle any description, off goods belonging,,to the proprietors, and! also by the notification^ sent to the Union'Steamship'Company that the Searden's Union would strikb if the Company undertook .to 'convey the goods of the offending, masters, to market. This system' of boycotting was rendered doubly sure, by send-; ing circulars to fellow-unionists in. the other colonies to apt similarly, andthe machinery for a gigantic Austral lasian strike was otherwise so ordered that a certain victory for labor could not fail to results "As we have already! pointed, out, the .merits or..demerits, of the dispute which caused this threaten-, ing attitude pf the Unionists'sinks^into insignificance: beside : the . disasters likely to occur, to' the general public through the blocking of shipping, and the paralysing of trade, consequent) upon' the efforts made by \ Traded Unionists to bring unreasonable -masters to a reasonable frame of mind. At present labor cannot help itself effectually "without 'using strong measures, and there, are cases—arid the strike just ended was one.-,of these—where the,end fully justifies the means. It is, however, necessary ,that, strong measures like the .'.' complete boycott" shall only be. resorted to in the m6st extreme cases. But it would be in* finitely better if some arrangement could be devised whereby, when arbit^ ration and all peaceable efforts have failed between masters and men, the State shall step in and claim the right to give a,final decision upon the merits of the subject in dispute. The competition of capital with capital has brought about a state of society where labor has been compelled to take up a, distinctly antagonistic position, and, unless prompt and conciliatory measures are adopted by the State to reduce the friction any moment may witness a violent upheaval o£ society, If such a violent upheaval of the social fabric occurs in this enlightened age, a grave charge will lie at the dQor of the various representative Governments that they are not fulfilling their functions. The State has already stepped in where labor and capital have heen in conflict, but it has only been with a few 'harmless' factory acts, and occasionally with a posse of police or Roldiery for the purpose of preserving orxleil, The., tiino has now, howevor, arrived when the State, in the interests of all concerned, must exercise a judicial function where there is a danger of the whole community being injured through the quarrel of a handful of capitalists with a handful of laborers. We can- &&e no more effectual way for, the State to exercise this imperative function than by the establishment of a permanent and impartial Commission, to whom all. labor and capital disputes, where a principle is involved, shall be referred. The; Commission thus appointed would be invested with judicial functions, and Wc fy wise coming before it could be decided upon its own merits. That the decisions of a State referendum of this character would he respected alike by labor and capital is certain j in fact, the evidence, submitted to the late New Zealand Sweating Commission by masters and employees alike may be taken as an indication that both parties look to the State for the development of some schenio YrJfich. will bring about less strained relations between the conflicting interests. So far as New Zealand is concerned, the evils of a gigantic labor strike,, and,. the consequent paralyising of trade, have never been felt; but the extensive labor organisation which has taken place during the past few months renders such a contingency unpleasantly near, and it behoves our legislators to prove themselves equflj to the requirements of tad age by s0 ordering affairs that the constantly recurring differences between capital and capital, and capital and lab'or| shall be settled peaceably, and not with strife. Labor is anxious for State interference of the kind indicated, and so also is capital; and it only remains for the State to act. A condition of society siwl) fts that looming in the immediate future P? strikes, lock-outs, and trades arid labor boycotts, demands the earnest attention of every man who wishes to serve his day and generation, and we would Strongly recommend the' New Zealand Pai'lia* ment to take the question up without delay.