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THE THREATENED LABOUR BOYCOTT.

During the past three years, conse quent upon a period of severe depression, there has been considerable friction between employers and employed m this colony. Profits attending the investment of capital have considerably fallen off, and as a natural sequence efforts have been made by employers to reduce the cost of production. What could not be saved by the introduction of labour-saving machinery has been deducted from the wage-earner. The wage-earners m most instances accepted the reductions, but not unmurmuringly. The murmuring was faint at first, but gained strength as time went on, and ultimately ended m the wholesale formation dt Labour Unions for offensive and defensive purposes. A cry was raised throughout the colony by employers that "wages were too high." Wage-earners, being thus forewarned were forearmed, and by •ombination have now built up a ortification of Unionism which is practically impenetrable. No one who has the interest of his fellows at heart will condemn this consolidation of the labour forces. It is calculated to prevent the wage-earner from sinking to a position of abject serfdom, and will assist to conserve the dignity of honest labour m the field, m the workshop, or m the counting-house. The wageearners of the colony have put forward a practical protest against the economic theory that wages shall finally converge at a point which will allow the laborer only the bare means of subsistence; and not only this, but a forcible demand is being made for a fair share of the profits of production. The laborer has placed himself on an equality with his master ; and there is now a danger that, m the moment of victory, he may be.tempted to make a determined struggle for the mastery. Should he do so, the struggle will be sharp and decisive, and it is difficult to say on which side victory will He. The clanger referred to, however, is not so great m Few Zealand as m other parts of the world. The leaders of the labour movement here are cautious, clear-headed men, who think well before they act, and have a strong desire to secure a reasouable share of the profits of production by peaceable rather than forcible means. The danger of a conflict arises from the other side. Employers, m many cases, have not been accustomed to have their dictum questioned, and the new order of things is somewhat irksome. In the case of Whitcombe and Tombs it is especially irksome, and that firm has had the temerity to openly defy the labour party, and are preparing to take the consequences. Unfortunately for their cause, the firm mentioned have adopted an unreasonable and unjustifiable course, m refusing arbitration; but the labor party, on the other hand, while not lacking firmness, have shown every desire for conciliation. {With the labor party there is a very large amount of public sympathy up to the present, and a general desire is expressed that, as regards the quarrel with Whitcombe and Tombs, the men will succeed m bringing the firm to reason. If, however, m the effort to do so, the labor party should resort to violent measures, such as those threatened by a complete bycott of everybody and everything from Auckland to the Blufi, public sympathy, we feel sure, will not long be sustained. With all legitimate efforts that may be put forward by the labor party to punish the firm and those who are alleged to support them, the public will sympathise, but this sympathy will not go to the extent of justifying the punishment of the innocent m order to overtake the guilt. The quarrel is an ugly one, and has assumed vast complications, but there is no justifica tion as yet for the extreme measures threatened by the labor party. It" may be that these threats are only put forward as a means of bringing about a settlement. We hope it is so, and have no doubt that, if the] threat is held over the firm concerned for any length of time, a surrender will take place. We observe from telegrams m this issue that there is a probability of an amicable settlement being arrived at by means of arbitration. If this should be the result of the struggle, the labor party will deserve the victory for the moderation displayed throughout a most critical and trying period.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900809.2.7

Bibliographic details

THE THREATENED LABOUR BOYCOTT., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2487, 9 August 1890

Word Count
728

THE THREATENED LABOUR BOYCOTT. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2487, 9 August 1890

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