The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 1890. THE AUSTRALIAN STRIKES.
The labor agitation throughout Australia is assuming gigantic proportions. In New South Wales there are 6000 men on strike; and throughout Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland the greatest excitement obtains,. Shipping is being blocked at all ports, steamers are. laid aside, and trade is paralysed. The consequences to the shipowners and the employees will be alike serious, and the victory, on whichever side it may lie, will be dearly won. The Maritime bodies, in addition to fighting their own battle—the demand of Maritime Officers, seamen, and wharf laborers for increased remuneration, and the better regulation of the conditions of employment—are likewise fighting the cause of the land labor forces, and refuse to handle wool shorn by non-Union labor. This formidable combination of labor, enlisting, as no doubt it will do the sympathy of the numerous artisan unions throughout Australia, has aroused the attention of capitalists, and labor union has been met by the union of capital. Neither side is disposed to give quarter, and a speedy settlement, from present appearances, seemsoutof thequestion. Already a vast amount of wages has been withdrawn from circulation, representing considerable hardship and suffering to the wage-earners ; while the laying up of shipping and interference with the ordinary course of manufacture and commercemust resultingreat loss to the combined forces of capital. The most unsatisfactory view of the question is, however, that the struggle which has just commenced is not likely to be final. If the labor party are defeated they will return after a brief space to the attack; and if capital should be worsted, a stronger force will be brought forward in the next contest, and another determined struggle will be made for the supremacy. Thus the two forces, unless some new means are devised for peaceable settlement, will be pitted against each other in a continual warfare, mutually disastrous. Hitherto labor and capital have carried on a species of guerilla warfare, but these days appear now to have finally gone by, and each party is preparing itself for a series of gigantic and desperate struggles, of which the Australian difficulty is one of the first. The struggles now taking place have been long foreseen and dreaded, but they could not be averted ; they are inj separable from a system which permits freedom to the laborer and equal freedom to the employer. The combination and consolidation of the two forces, however, for agressive and defensive purposes must result in a better understanding. Neither side can long continue the present strained relations, and the fiercer the conflict rages the greater the probability of an appeal to arbitration. Arbitration is the only satisfactory and reasonable means by which an understanding can be coino to between capital and labour- ; and nowhere can satisfactory arbitration be conducted so well as at a Conference where both interests are represented by far-seeing and level-headed men, who are prepared to give and take for the mutual benefit. Unfortunately arbitration will not be resorted to until both sides have exhausted every forcible means to bring the supposed enemy into subjection, and capital will expend more money in trying to subdue labour than "by granting the concessions asked for ; while labor will sacrifice more in Avages than the concessions if won will compensate in tenor fifteen years, The interests of both are identical, but neither party will believe it, and the after consequences of similar struggles to that now taking place are the only means we know of to teach this useful lesson.