Dunedin, August 2. To-night's "Herald" has the following;—"lthas appeared by the Carriers Act, 1880, that neither the Union Company nor the Railway Commissioners can refuse to receive cargo, and a new move on the part of the Unions has been necessitated, and the onus has been thrown upon the men of taking the matter completely into their own hands. We are informed that the Seamen's Union intend surmounting this difficulty by playing the first trump card. They will call upon all seamen to give the requisite twenty-four hours' notice of cancellation of their present agreements to the ship owners. After this they are willing to sign new articles and keep the trade of the colony going, provided always that in the new articles a clause is inserted whereby no vessel, shall trade with Lyttelton. In order to make this point of attack more valuable any inflow of seamen must be prevented, and, from what we can gat her, it appears that an arrangement has been entered into with the other colonies whereby no seamen will sail in any steam vessel coming to New Zealand other than I those already in the trade. This course trijl be notified to each vessel as she arrives next week. The position as sketched above is most serious and alarming. The stoppage of the carrying trade of Lyttelton means the complete boycott of Ohristchurch. Then the merchants of that city will either have to take up their stand with Whitcombe and Tombs, and fight their quarrel, or take such measures as will bring the firm to a truo sense of the consequences of their attitude. Of course, under the provisions of the Carriers Act, Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs can send their goods by rail to Dunedin, to be shipped thence, This would, of course, put such a heavy tax on to their expenses as to throw them out of competition, or if that did not suffice, Dunedin would have to be treated as Lyttelton is to be. The Union will in the course of a few day receive notice of this intended action. The coal mines are the next point of attack, for it is highly probable that if the Railway Commissioners persist in the course on which they have determined, severe measures will have to be taken in that direction, too, and there is a likelihood of these resulting in the closing of all coal mines throughout the colony. This matter seems to involve the unity of all the labor organisations of the colony, and they are determined to fight it out to the death. The matter is now assuming a most serious aspect, not only for the boycotted firm, but for the whole of New Zealand traders, and it is therefore to be hoped that better counsels will prevail, and such a settlement arrived at as will prevent the extreme course sketched above being taken."
In the course of an interview with a Christchurch "Press" reporter, Mr Edwards, General Secretary of the Railway Servants Society, said:—"Our position ia this, that on the 7th August, unless matters are settled with respect to Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs, the members of the Railway Servants' Society will refuse to handle or carry any goods belonging to Messrs Witcombe and Tombs. I understand that the Railway Commissioners say that they are bound, as common carriers, to take goods that are offered to them, or else they will be liable to an action for damages by Witcombe and Tombs. But I would point out that there is a condition on the back of the freight notes exempting the railway from any claim for damages for non-fulfilment of contract by reason of civil commotion. Now the calling out of the railway servants under the resolution of the Maritime Council would be, I think, a civil commotion, and thus the Commissioners would be exempt from any claim for damages. We are given to understand, on good authority, that there is a combination on the part of some of the merchants here to support Whitcombe and Tombs, and the dispute with the Typographical Association therefore disappears, and in its place comes the test question, Trades Unionism or no Trades Unionism. That is what we are fighting now, owing to the action taken by the merchants. You see it is easy for a firm here to import goods, ostensibly for themselves, but treally for the firm of Whitcombe and Tombs, and we know that it will be done. Thus the boycott we put on will be unsuccessful unless it is completely carried out by the means proposed to be adopted by the calling out of the seamen. This will cause the boycotting of the merchants who are in sympathy with Whitcombe and Tombs. Here is a copy of a telegram I sent to-night to the Railway Commissioners :—
"Railway Commissioners, Wellington, — Re Whitcom.be and Tombs 1 difficulty. Instructions received Maritime Council to boycott all goods, Railway Union decided comply strictly with instructions. If railway men suspended must call all hands out, and Port Lyttelton will be practically blocked by Council until suspended men are reinstated. Our action imperatiyp, as case is supposed to be a test backed by other firms. Can you instruct Whitcombe and Tombs Railway Department not responsible through civil^ commotion.—W, J. Edwakps, General Secretary Amalgamated Society Railway Servants of Now Zealand."
So faras the railway servants are concerned, the notice given by the Maritime Council does not come into force until the 7th inst., but then our members will refuse to handle any of Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs' goods unless the matter is concluded. Then, if the Commissioners suspend any of our members we will call out the whole of the railway servants. That is shortly the positiqn. Wp ho}d an $xc. putjvp meeting to-morrow night, and a mass W£Ct}ng of members on Tuesday night to consider the question."
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WHOLESALE BOYCOTTING, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2482, 4 August 1890
WHOLESALE BOYCOTTING Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2482, 4 August 1890
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