The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit. THURSDAY, AUGUST 28, 1890. THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR DIFFICULTIES.
It wiv-s generally believed that the gigantic maritime strike in Australia would be confined to Australian shores, and that New Zealand would escape all inconvenience arising therefrom. The telegrams of the past few days : havit? completely upset this hope, as, in consequence pf the Union Steamship Company becoming involved in the J trouble, we in tills colony are now j practically cut off from communication with our Australian neighbours. Between the Uiuoft Company and their j employees there Cs absolutely nothing j in dispute, and the j?Blatio#s are j of the most cordial character, Unfortunately both parties are afh'liated to one or other of th« disputant bodies in Australia, who .are immediately concerned in the settlement at thfi complex questions involved in the preserufc struggle. Therefore, although the Union .■ftficjimship Company and its employees would wil^ijjjly remain, at peace, they are not at liberty j to do so, hyt against their wishes and ' against the interest of New Zealand colonists., they are con,ipelte4 to war with eafth other. What the effect of the strike will 'be in this colony is al- j ready becoming apparent. With the; absence of shipping the tj-ains will 'rnctically stop running, or the hgi'-J vices will be so intermittent as to cau.se serious loss and inconvenience to almost avmxjcmo settled in the colony. Freights have a\mady risen, and this, added to the small arnouwt <4f.pa.rgo being carried backward and t'orwa^ between Australia and New Zealand hy il^e miix line of steamers (whose owners are wot jnvolvcd in the quarrel) and the few s,aiSiijig vessels trading to and fro, will cause a .rise to take pSaee iupvalues. Fortuiiaieiy, -7,? a aoloay, we arc not dependant to an:y great «&t<ewfc mi imports from our Austr&Jwui neighiboMfs,, ,«.ftd in this respect prices for actual necesspifes are not likely to go up ; but our farmery /jind producers send largte quantities ,ipl g«ij?) and dairy produce to the Aus trsili.o» markets the year through, and in this respect should the present determined s-bniggte J^w.een capital and * kUcmr i)l ie neighbouring colonies be i long ewtfmied, e^ Zealand vil/. }^:i serious lose*. We U4nk, therefore, that both the Unaoii^mpanyand New Zealand branch of the Maritime Coun-•.i.-il v have not >cted as judiciously as !i!«l«nsts luKr.a right L to expect ill
becoming parties to a quarrel in which they have no substantial interest. So far as the Union Company and their employees are concerned, they have no ground of complaint the one against the other, yet they are Hying at each other's throats on a pure, matter of sentiment—the right to take up a partisan attitude in a labor disturbance in another colony. If the dispute was between the Company and its employees there would be some excuse for the stoppage of trade while the combatants fought the matter out to their own satisfaction, but the country has a right to protest against being thrown into a state of excitement because our only intercolonial j shipping company and its employees choose to mix themselves up with other people's quarrels. The matter, so far , as it affects New Zealand is a good illustration of the evils that may result from the gigantic combination of j labour and capital now taking place ; and should lead to some healthy legislation which will effectually prevent a recurrence of such troubles in future. Under present conditions it would seem that ordinary trade and commerce cannot be carried on owing to labour and capital combinations and conflicts, and those who are not interested in either one body or the other have the right to demand that they shall not be put to loss and inconvenience. The present business suspense and anxiety is unendurable, and the long continuance of the struggle will, we have no doubt, accentuate the public feeling against combinations either in business or labour. There are many employers and employees who belong to neither one faction or the other, and a feeling of irritation is growing up amongst this class which we trust to see expressed in such a manner as to cause shipowners and ship employees to think twice before entering again into a struggle of the present kind.