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The Half-holiday Question.

The adjourned meeting of employers called to consider the half-holiday movement was held in the Arcade Chambers last evening, and Mr J. M. Cambridge was voted to the chair. A long, and at times, somewhat personal and acrimonious discussion took place. The following is a report of the proceedings :— The meeting was quite a representative one, as regards the stores and tradas in Ashburton, with the exception of the grain store proprietors in West street, who did not put in an appearance. Some discussion took place on the reason for the calling together of the employers, and it was explained that this had been done instead of a canvass of the town which had been suggested. After several present had spoken, some objecting to the way in which they had been called together, Mr C. M. Brooke proposed " That the weekly half holiday be again instituted, and continued, say, for three months, from Ist to Ist .[November." 4 Mr H. Zander seconded!this motion pro forma, but was not in favor of the proposal. His idea was to close all business places at 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and he thought people could easily arrange to do their shopping before that time if they wished. He would also be quite prepared to observe all other holidays proclaimed by the Mayor, race days, etc. Mr R. Alcorn sympathised, with the chemists who had very long hours, but he was quite sure closing on Wednesday afternoons would be a disadvantage to country settlers. It might suit some people who could be generous at other people's expense, bitt those who employed a good deal of labor found the wages account a serious one, and there were people in the county who found Wednesday the only convenient day to come to [ town on business. He was in favor of j closing at 6 p.m., and always had been, and he took credit for having forced the early closing movement on in Ashburton. He moved an amendment, "That 6 p.m. be the hour for Saturday closing as soon as it can be arranged, working down from 8 p.m." Mr J. Orr had the complaint to make that' the Half-holiday Association had not made any effort to protect those who had kept the holiday" formerly, as some stores were open at any time during the afternoon of Wednesdays. Some plan was required to make the holiday uniform and work properly. Mr H. H. Stephens said the Early Closing Association had done all they could to keep the stores closed on the Wednesday half-holiday. The mischief had been done by those who, after agreeing to close, allowed customers in by their back doors, etc. He considered that the smaller business people who employed mostly boy or girl labor and assistants, were less able to afford the holiday than those who kept a staff of five or six hands, and did not have to work themselves. The reason given against the holiday last year was that some did not close at 6 o'clock, but now this was made the regular closing time, no further trouble should be made on this score. Mr Zander said the mistake was that the West street merchants were not asked to join in the movement. Mr H. M. Jones thought unanimity impossible in the matter, but lee those who thought it right close up by all means. In his business he had found such a loss through the holiday that he had to withdraw from the movement. He knew the half holiday was annoying to. some people, and he ebjected to be coerced into anything he did. not approve of, and he did not think closing at 6 p,m. on Saturday night would be fouud practicable. He would second Mr Alcorn's amendment. I Mr Salek did not think the amendment one on the motion. He thought those present had their minds made up, and a ballot should be at once taken. Mr Zander said if a vote were taken the minority should give way to the majority. He thought it would be best to refer th« matter again to the Early Closing Association. Mr Brooke agreed to this, and withdrew his motion. :■■■■■. ' ;< . ; Mr Collins said West: street would have to be brought into the question, and if those stores closed, well and good— lefc the holiday be general. The employees could not expect some to close and others in the same business not to do so. Mr Stephens said it would be well for the West street stores to close with the rest, and if a vote were taken then it would decide the question at once. As for closing on Saturdays at six most of the country customers were dealt with before that hour, and if the town ones had to come shopping before six als?«, it would be found impossible for them all to be attended to. Mr Seger said no loss occurred to business when the holiday was held before in Ashburton, as so few people came to shop on Wednesday afternoon. He was certain of this, for, as a draper, he saw most of the people who came fco town to buy goods. Mr Zander suggested closing the stores at half-past three on Wednesdays, eight on Saturdays, and keeping all holidays proclaimed by the Mayor, but this proposal was not favored by the meeting. Mr Collins thought the matter should be referred to the Association' again, and let them canvass the town and get the opinion o f all the traders. Mr A. Orr thought the meeting should take a vote by ballot re the half-holiday. He had suggested calling; them together in a friendly way to discuss the proposed holiday. ' Mr j. Orr said it, was no use discussing the matter unless the West street stores were represented. He suggested a canvass of all the business people in the town. Mr Zander moved that the matter be referred to the Early' Closing Association, requesting a meeting to be called for thai night week, when all business people would be represented personally or by proxy. This was seconded by Mr John Orr. • Mr Cambridge wisbed to express the opinion that ultimately all business people would fee forcedfby law to close half a day on Saturdays, and that would be very bad for people in busines in Ashburton and similar towns. The motion was agreed to: without dissent, and a vote of thanks to the chair closed the proceedings, ; '■)S'<-

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Bibliographic details

The Half-holiday Question., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2463, 10 July 1890

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The Half-holiday Question. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2463, 10 July 1890