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The Labor Question in Parliament.

Following is the." Hansard," report of Major Steward's Speech, on the 15th inst,, m support of M^ Perceval'siuption recommending the Govemtafenfc fcb convene a conference of representatives of Employers' Associations! and Labour Uniona with, a view, to,the amicable adjustment of the present difficulty,,: -,-• ; ; f y , Major Steward—l have taken scarcely any part previously m these debates, but I cannot do other jkhan express, by very great pleasure that the.Gpyeniiiient have cordially accepted ; the, proposal of the honorablemember fop Christchurch South. I look upon it?as- the first streak of sunshine bursting through the clouds, and, though one may not be too;.sangiune, still I do venture to .think thai the comtnon- , sense of both parties will leact, them to .see that this is a way of,;retreat from au unfortunate position which ifc is very desirable should: be. taken advantage of. ;Every one has admired the loyalty to principle the members of the. Unions liave show, m, having, at great sacrifice gone out at the call of the leaders of their organisation ; but I think that the men themselves, as well as this House, will by 1 this time "have come toHhe conclusion that there have been t mistakes m the matter, thai the time chosen was inopportune, and that it is very undesirable that, except iof tome grave cause arising Within the; Colony itself, woik m the Colony should be stopped. - 'It seems to me tliat ' exceedingly good temper has been shown -on'both sides during the present struggle. , It reflects great credit on thei men 'that siieK gqbdjoixter has been kept under the circumstances, and it may be said tlyft the hten who are united m the XJniqns of Kew JJef^land.are men of whom any .country [miglitb'o^proud, and the manner m which they f have,conducted themselves, generally, speaking,, is such that we may congratulate them and ourselves upon. I think there |ia,s been one mistake 'made by the Railway Commissioners, and it was this : That m the dispute between themselves and the four men who were discharged thdy should have given the /men -reasonable time to consider the matter. ■ Ten minutes was not a sufficient time. That was a fake step on the "parh :of the Commissioners. It was a false step because it would have been better if the'men ha*l^ h%en given until the following day. Well^ Sir, I have said that the tiihe was an exceedingly inopportune one for this struggle to come upon this country—inopportune for the reason' that, even if there were grievances which required to He adjusted, ifc is to be regre!tted that an attempt should be made to adjust those grievances at such a time as this, especially at a time when, if New Zealand had stood 'oufy that is to say had we escaped involvement m the labor troubles, we should have reapedjenormous commercial advantages-"because i>f the disorganisation of trade hi Australia, and also a large future advantage m the fact that people m the pld Country, and even m the other colonies who saw these troubles around them might have been looking out" for some place to go where those troubles would not arise. Had New Zealand been m that position I think many would have come here who will be prevented coming by these unhappy circumstance for some time to come. I think it is desirable on that and on every other ground,, that the Government should lose no time m acting upon' the Resolution, whichsl.think rthis Hous,e wilt 1 .pass unanimously.', IrTiad! the pleasure of listening to the very happy speech delivered by the .honorable member for -Newton % few eveniugs ago./,T^iailionpralble gentleman bore testimony to the value of labor .organisation^, but,.ajb^the. ...satne time, ha gave them sound advice as to the directions m which the regulations of these labor organisations ne.edefl jto be amended. He pointed, out that theentrance fee was so large as to prevent many men from joining the,unions, and also that the v yule preventing union men from working alongside non-uniqnists should be. .abrogated. I think,' if men were left to act as free laborers just the same as members of unions we should never m the future have such a difficulty arise as now eaists ; and I hope when this Conference takes place, as I trust it soon will, one of the determinations come to will be this : that m the future men shall not be called out m New Zealand m an any branch of industry except for some grievance arising within New Zealand, itself. In that case membors of unibnVin New Zerl»nd will be far better able to help members of labor organisations' elsewljierer-rjeic, n\hilo nihUjifr, —instead of being unable to help tluarfellowrlaborers elsewhere because them; selves but of work and needing help. I hope the unions will bring down the entrance-fees so as to embrace all laborera m. these s unions, „ Many gopd men are prevented from joining by high entrance fees. And I think that the rule preventing union men from working with men who are; not members of unions should bo abrogated also. In the end I chink it will be desirable that tliei Railway Commissioners and other employers of laborshoiildsay, "We will takebacksihto our employment all the men we can take back without breaking' 'the ; engagements we have entered into with the other men." That would be a fait and generous position for them to assume, and I trust that that will be the result.

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Bibliographic details

The Labor Question in Parliament., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2530, 29 September 1890

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The Labor Question in Parliament. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2530, 29 September 1890