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E. Dywer Gray on Australian Strikes.

Mr E. Dwyer Gray of the "Dublin Freeman," now m Sydney (says the " Freeman's Journal)," writes as follows : No person interested m the welfare of Australia can view with feelings other than alarm the existing state of affairs between the pastoralists and shearers of this colony. As a visitor to New South Wales I have been much surprised that at such a juncture, when an industrial crisis of almost unparalleled magnitude seerijs to threaten the country, no suggestion has been made from an authoritative source with a view to having the case submitted to arbitration, In Ireland, where strikes and trade disputes have been of frequent occurrence lately, a resort is nearly always made to arbitration with the best possible results for everyone concerned- The present difficulty m NewSouth Wales is one which from its nature, it seems. tQ lUSi «hwW be submitted to

arbitration. Ido not see that either the pastoralists or the shearers could refuse to abide by arbitration, if such a sugges- \ tion were made from the other side, without alienating from themselves the entire sympathy of the public. When the President of the Pastoralists Association refused to confer with the representatives of the shearers the other day he placed his cause m a very doubtful light m ths eyes of impartial observers. The mistake would be gracefully redeemed by an offer on the part of his association to submit the whole matter to arbitration. Certainly the people of New South Wales have a right to insist that all possible methods of conciliation should be exhausted before the community is plunged , into an industrial deadlock, the seriousness of which can scarcely be realised. Thedispute is not merely to take the form of a quarrel between the shearers and the squatters.. The allied forces on either side embrace many ramifications of capital and labour. The shearers threaten to paralyse all the allied trades and possibly the railway system, while the employers vow that they will pursue the same policy and boycott union wool even to the extent of calling upon owners of steamships to refuse to ship it. I can remember a conversation I had recently with a very eminent leader of labour m the old country He was jubilant at what he called the federation of labour throughout the world, but said that he feared that capital would soon learn the lesson df combination and federation also. This is what is happening m Australia. Whether such a 1 boycott by labour or by capital is legal or not is a matter of speculation—the general opinion would appear to be that it is not strictly legal. Whether it is morally justifiable on the part of labour is an altogether different question, and one upon which people can reserve judgment. However that may be, it isl sure to cause enormous inconvenience to the public. Put down the boycott as illegal, and you at once brin^ the law into opposition to the labour party. Boycotting would thenbe regarded by labour as a bonitm prohibitum. It is a dangerous thing to bring the law into direct conflict with the moral senses of a considerable portion of the the people. Such a step might peicipitate serious consequences. It was with extreme reluctance that the Irish leaders advocated defiance of the law under the plan of campaign m Ireland. They felt that they were justified by the desperate circumstances of the case. While most Irishmen would support this view, yet there can be no doubt that it will take time to restore J the respect for the law thus rudely assailed. In Ireland we have the excuse that the law we have defied was not made by the will of the Irish people, but against it, nor do we believe that respect for the law as law can ever again become a living force among ths Irish people until the Irish people are allowed a voice m their own* government. If want of respect for alien' law is & thing to be regretted m Ireland, how deplorable m Australia would be a defiance of law made by yourselves. And yet is it not at all events possible that if you forbid boycotting the leaders of labor may advise defiance of the law? The labor agitation is no ordinary movement. It is universal and is not to be put down by law. Its success is already assured. Moreover, its failure would mean a revolution. Care should be taken, therefore,-that the law should at least appear to be impartial. The whole difficulty would be. obviated if arbitration could only be established as an institution among the people. A board of concilliation. is already m process of formation m Dublin, owing primarily, to the strenuous exertions of the Archbishop of Dublin. It is hoped chat the affiliated trade unions and the Chamber of Commerce will mutually agree to refer all disputes to this boar,d of conciliation. Is there not contained here a lesson for Australia ? Let- a permHttent board be appointed to solve disputes before: they reach the boycotting stage at all. '■ Such an institution, if loyally supported, would be invaluable ; meanwhile let the pajstorarlists of New South. Wales depute a representative m whom they have confidence to meet a representative of the shearers. Let these two representatives appoint as referee some person upon whose impartiality reliance can be placed, and let both parties to the dispute agree to abide by the result.—Yours, etc., E. Dwyer Gray.

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Bibliographic details

E. Dywer Gray on Australian Strikes., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2517, 13 September 1890

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E. Dywer Gray on Australian Strikes. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2517, 13 September 1890

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