The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 1890. THE COMPLETE BOYCOTT.
The Maritime Council, to their credit be it said, are loth to put m force the system known as the " complete boycott." The "complete boycott" is a new development of labor coercion only warranted m the most extreme cases, and of this the organisers of the labor movement are fully conscious. Consequently, m the case of the Shag Point coal strike, every other means was availed of to bring about a ■ettlement before the complete boycott was brought to light for the first time m this colony. The effect was electrical, and the stubbornness of stiff-necked employers could not withstand the pressure. Labor triumphed, but took its victory with becoming modesty, and having convinced the employers of its power was not exacting m its demands as to terms of settlement. The Maritime Council has again found itself compelled to reaort to extreme measures, and this time a, firm of printers, publishers, and stationers, of Christclmrch, are the individuals to be experimented upon. For many months past a labor dispute has been simmering between the firm named and the local branch of the Typographical Society. Deputations innumerable from the Society affected, and also from the Trades and Labor Council, have waited upen the firm, but no settlement could be arrived at. Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs have all along openly defied the labor organisations, and refuse to conduct their business upon Union principles or employ Union men. The Maritime Council has now put on the "boycott" screw, and the arrangements made are so complete that, if the laborers are only true to themselves, another labour victory must result. Wharf laborers will refuse to handle the firm's goods, 'carters will refuse to convey them, sailors will refuse to sail m ships m which said goods are consigned, and railway servants will not touch, taste, or handle anything belonging to the firm. What can Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs do against this? What can anyone else do against it? Nothing except to hold out a flag of truce, and surrender with the best grace possible. The Maritime Council's argument is unanswerable, and only the most foolish and headstrong will contend against it. But a grave and important point underlies the whole question, and it is this: Are the labour organisations named fighting m a just cause m thus boycotting Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs? How many of those who will refuse to handle the firm's goods know anything of the merits "of the dispute, beyond the fact that Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs have openly defied the labour organisations. The causes that have led up to this course of action on the part of the offending firm are not publicly known outside of Chrißtchurch. The firm may be perfectly justified m the" stand they have taken. We say may be, becau.se wo, like others of the public, are not familiar with all the details of the dispute. The Maritime: Council say the firm are unjustified, find that is all we know of it. If the matter rested between the Council and the offending firm solely, there would be an end of it. But, unfortunately, others than the parties immediately interested are brought into the quarrel, and it is only fair that they should have a voice. Shipping companies, Railway Commissioners, business men, and othors are prevented from dealing with the firm or accepting their money for services rendered. These companies and persons know nothing, or next to nothing, of the merits of the dispute, but they are called upon to make a sacrifice'; nevertheless. Is this right, and is it m the bent interests of labour union \ that it should be so. Viewed from the standpoint of the trading public neither Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs nor the Maritime Council are the best judges of the -matter ;;iin [dispute. ' The offices of a third party —a judicial tribunal—are urgently needed, and as we have said on several occasions previously,; it should be made compulsory for both parties to resort to arbitration before resorting to extreme measures. It is evident from the present and similar disputes that the contending parties; will not, if left to themselves, resort to arbitration voluntarily, and it is daily becoming evident that arbitration must lie made compulsory. Under present conditions labor has no option but to resort to the " complete boycott " m order to enforce its demands, but from the conciliatory and reasonable spirit invariably shown before this extieme step is taken, we feel convinced that a State Tribunal for the adjustment of labor disputes would be gladly welcomed by sTrades and Labor organisations. "Some State step must be taken to prevent the necessity for recourse too frequently to the " complete boycott " system, which, if unchecked, m the near future may cause a gigantic strike and a complete paralysis of trade. In the present instance, where the " complete boycott" lias been set m motion, Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs appear to be principally at fault for the unbending attitude assumed, and for any loss that may result to their business they will only have themselves to thank.