The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY, AUGUST 14, 1890. THE LABOUR CRISES.
The labor agitation m New Zealand is not confined to the struggle m Christchurch with Messrs Whitcombe and Tombs. On the West Coast of the South Island the coal miners are dissatisfied with the conditions of their employment, and at Brunnerton there is'at present a " lock-out." There is also friction between threshing mill owners and their employees at Ilangiora, and there is a probability that the incoming grain and shearing season may witness complications between farmers and pastoralists and the labor employed by them during the busy seasons of the year. Trades Unionism is spreading m every direction throughout the colony, and skilled and unskilled labor are banding together for mutual protection. In Victoria and New South Wales the air is thick with labor troubles affecting marine officers, j seamen, wharf laborers, shearers, and others, and any moment may witness colossal strikes, the like of which have never before been witnessed m these new lands. The Cardiff Docks strike is causing widespread consternation throughout the United Kingdom, and the labor agitation m America is at present taking the form of rail- < way strikes and lock-outs. All over the civilised world the labor trouble is engaging much attention, and the final outcome of this vast social upheaval will, it is hoped, result m a better understanding between labour, and capital. Antagonism between capital and labor cannot last for any lengthened period without disastrous results, and the mutual depen dance of the one upon the other will bring about ultimate peaceable settlement m spite of all mistakes made upon either side. So far as the labor revolt has developed m New Zealand, there is every ground to hope that the temperate and forbearing conduct of the leaders of the movement will bring about a peaceable settlement, without recourse being had to disastrous forcible means now m the possession of labor organisations. The majority of labor employers m the colony are, we believe, m sympathy with the efforts being put forth by the labor party to better the condition of the wageearners, or to prevent this important section of community from sinking to abject serfdom. Capitalists, generally, realise that it is the rash and unjustifiable competition of capital with capital that is to blame for dissatisfaction m the labor ranks. Many persons engaged m commercial 'pursuits, failing to make headway against more successful competitors, have cut down salaries to such an extent that the employes have been left no option but to band themselves together to prevent further "sweating" of this nature. The enormous excess of production over consumption brought about by this means has had the effect of placing various articles upon the market at a price for which they cannot be legitimately produced—the investor gets nothing for his money, and the laborer next to nothing for the sweat of his brow. The manufacturers m the colony, realising that they were getting little or nothing for the capital invested, brought about a highly protective tariff, 'and, m many cases, are now reaping a plentiful harvest, m which, however, the workers are not getting ,a fair and equitable share. It is against these fctvideps that the labour organisations are mainly arrayed, and the result of their efforts must be to put trade upon a sounder basis. Thvg it is that the large body of capitalists m the colony are not found m open hostility to the Labour Unions, but m many instances express themselves m sympathy with the efforts put forth, knowing that the labour movement, while it may do a little harm at first, will ultimately do a great deal of good m removing from the field of competition a number of competitors who can only exist by a process of " sweating " the laborer—a course which is repellant to human nature, however jastifiable it may be by hard-and-fast economic rule. What is the case m New Zealand will doubtless be the case m other colonies and countries, and the wide-spread bloodless labour revolution now being enacted promises, from thj.!? view, to be a blessing to trade. The temporary aspect of the question may be, and indeed js alarming, but the movement, if proceeded wi|li on the present peaceable lines, cannot fail t.Q bring about a more satisfactory state of matters between employers and employed.