The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Vertas et Prævalebit. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1890. THE COMMISSIONERS AND THE HALLWAY SERVANTS.
The extraordinary attitude of the Railway Commissioners towards the railway employes at the present critical period is cause for public uneasiness. The Railway Servants Union recently held a meeting, at which certain members expressed themselves strongly on the alleged partisan attitude taken up by the Commissioners m regard to the Maritime strike. Press reporters were admitted to the meeting referred to, and a brief summary of the proceedings was published m the daily papers. The Railway Commissioners forthwith singled out the principal speakers, and drafted an apology which was so worded that the men, if they had a spark of manliness or honor m them,, could not help refusing to sign, and authorised the local authorities to " carpet" the offenders m Christchurch. The Commissioners well knew that the members of the Railway Servants Union aimed at would not sign the apology drafted, and that dismissal would follow this refusal. The men could not enter into the obligations sought to be imposed and at the same time remain members of their Union, and their withdrawal from the Union would practically mean its total abolishment. If the Commissioners have any forethought or foresight, they must realise that, m acting as they have done, it is a direct challenge to all the men to go out on strike, and thus close up the railways, or at least put the railways m the same position as the present unsatisfactory shipping arrangements. The result of such a strike would be most far-reaching m its effects, and the present partial paralysis of trade would be greatly intensified, if not rendered entirely complete. Ever since the present unfortunate Maritime strike has commenced an uneasy public feeling has prevailed lest the railway servants should become involved, and the land as well as sea traffic become blocked. Forseeing the disastrous consequences likely to follow on such a step being taken, a number of influential public men have used their influence with the Commissioners and railway servants, and everything, up to within the past few days, pointed m the direction of peaceable relations existing between the Commissioners and the State's employees. The present action of the Commissioners, however, has completetely altered the complexion of affairs, and the threatened danger of a gigantic railway strike is again brought unpleasantly near. The four men, who hold important offices m their Union, have refused to sign the apology written out for them, or to enter into any arrangement with the Commissioners whereby they will be denied the right of combination for the redress or ventilation of grievances. As n consequence of this action the men have been discharged, and unless Parliamentary pressure is immediately brought to bear to procure their reinstatement, the country, we fear, is within measurable distance of ;i railway strike. Are the people, of New Zealand—the farmers and producers, the travelling public, manufacturers, and the vast army of wage-earners employed m reproductive industries— prepared for this 1 Such astrike means, if it means anything at all, that for a time at least, be the period long or short, famine prices will rule for the actual necessaries of life; that bitter chan hatred and feelings will be engendered and perpetuated ; that our social and commercial system will be turned topsy tnrvey, and that loss and suffering will result to almost everyone m the colony. "Whatever object the Commissioners may have m thus inviting and promoting a railway strike at this juncture, and however opportune the time may be for their purpose, we must, on behalf of the public, protest that the country has enough worry and irritation over the Maritime dispute, without having this increased tenfold. The AttorneyGeneral, m the Legislative Council the other day, admitted the right of the Civil Service to combjne for their own protection, and, m answer io ft question, granted them full liberty of speech. The Railway Commissioners, however, appear determined to deny this same right to the railway sewfrnfcs-»~another class of Civil servants—and it jremaints to be seen whether the Commissioners will be backed up by the Government m this, the latest of their many eccentiie actions.