The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Vertas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1890. THE RAILWAY SERVANTS.
The railway servants have resolved I not to strike. Tins will be welcome news to the public ; unwelcome news to the Railway Commissioners. The discharge of four prominent members of the Railway Servants Executive by the Commissioners for taking part m the proceedings of the Society cannot be considered m any other light than a direct challenge for an immediate trial of strength. 'The gauntlet thus thrown down, however, has, fortunately for the Colony, not been taken up, and a railway strike, so much dreaded by the people, seems now to be very far off indeed. The railway men, before resorting to the extreme measure of paralysing the trade of the Colony, have resolved to try diplomatic means to secure the reinstatement of the men discharged. Parliamentary pressure has already been brought to bear, and the action of the Commissioners m thus seeking to precipitate a strike at this unfortunate juncture m the labor struggle has been freely condemned. Inside and outside the House the action of the Commissioners m discharging the four men—Messrs Owen, Winter, Elvines, and Newton—has met with little or no sympathy ; while the action of the railway servants m refusing to be thus drawn into a conflict has been widely commended. Thp railway servants see that there are other ways and means of securing the reinstatement of their comrades than by going out on strike, and they have resolved that, if justice and the liberty of free speech is to be denied them m making public their grievances, efforts shall be made during the coming elections to secure the return of men to the House who will see that they at least get fair play. The ballot-box is to be appealed to—the safest and surest way of redressing grievances— and the co-operation of the labour party is to be invited to secure the return of labour representatives to the new House. Should the hopes of the railway men and labor party m this direction be realised our next Parliament will be largely composed of labor representatives who may perhaps have no other qualification than that ©f strong sympathies with the workers and the objects of Trades Unions. This is a most unpleasant contingency to look forward to, as the effect of wholesale return of class representatives—whether of labor or capital—to Parliament is not likely to be conducive to good or equitable government. The laboring man to-day, while much more intelligent than his fellow of, say, fifty years ago, has not yet arrived at that stage of perfection that the government of the colony can be entirely handed over to him. There are interests to be considered other than labor, and a truly representative Assembly must contain representatives from all—the classes as well as the masses. In the present Hou^e, it is most apparent that the wage-earners— by far the largest class of the community—are not adequately represented, and the presence of a fair sprinkling of special labor representatives m the new House would be most welcome, as their advice and experience would go a long way towards bringing about a satisfactory settlement of the present labor disputes m this colony. The danger lies m the direction of overdoing the thing, and deposing one class only to put another m power. This is the danger that seems to be looming m the immediate future, and the action laken by the Railway Commissioners m seeking to stifle the freedom of speech on the part of the colony's servants, will, we fear, go far towards aggravating wage-earners to shut their eyes to every other consideration except that of securing what they believe, to be the rights of labour by the return of men pledged to effect only one object. The masses, under manhood suffrage—one man one vote— have the power within their hands, when combined, to swamp the House with purely labour representatives, and it is surely madness on the part of the Legislature arid Railway Commissioners to dare them to this step m the present labour crisis, when the justice of the claims of capital has to be looked to as well as the claims of labour. There are men m the present House, of all shades of political opinion, whose presence can ill be spared from the deliberations of our public Assembly, but it would appear that the rnisdh'ectecl zeal of the Railway Commissioners, and those who advise them, has endangered the return of these men to the House ; and there is now a fair prospect of their places being filled by a number of inexperienced politicians whose zeal m the labour cause may possibly outrun discretion. We think the best thing that can happen for the welfare of the country is that tUo Railway Commissioners should immediately recede from the unpopular attitude taken up, reinstate the dismissed men, and thus allay m large measure the present labour excitement, which, if allowed to continue, will work havoc at the forthcoming election.