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THE CRUX OF THE LABOR DIFFICULTY.

Wk think it very much to tlie credit of the various labor organisations that they so generally responded to the invitation issued by the Government at the bidding of the House of Representatives to discuss the situatiou, and arrive, if possible, at a modus vivendi ; nnd we ?ire equally of opinion that the Employers' Associations have taken a very mistaken cour.se m their refusal to t;ike part m the proceedings., . ,%Ue action of Mr McLean, m meeting the other aide, on behalf of the Union Shipping Company, is greatly.to his and their credit, and avo do not think that it would have harmed the Railway Commissioners to follow suit. Tjhere is nothing to be gained, but much |jbobe lost by either party from the adoption of an uncompromising attitude, and no ill consequences can possibly follow from the temperate and reasonable discussion at any, time of any matter of dispute. There are those who say " Oh yes, that is all very true, but m this case there ia no grievance as to hours of labor or rates of pay, % aud therefore there is no matter of dispute involved." In there not 1 It may bethat m the beginning of the trouble there was nothing which specially affected labor m New Zealand, but after events have certainly brought on the board a very important matter of i difference, viz,, the question of the attitude of the Labor Unions as towards free labor/ and ■ the j very crux of the' whole difficulty as it now stands is as to what'is to be done m > this matter. .The Unionists contend that " to permit Union men to work alongside jfree 1 labor without any disability or difference to the latter is to ensure itlie break-down of Unionism, and ' the: employers and free laborers contend that to attempt to prevent it is to interfere with the liberty of the subject and that free labor ;has an equal right to be protected with Union Labor. Next after this m importance comes the demand that Union men who guve up or were jdismisfted from their employment during the troubles shouid^ bp reinstated. Now as to these points t&e utterances of Mr Champion, the well-known Socialist, and advocate of Trades' Unions deserve to be widely read. Speaking at Sydney the other day he said :—The men, naturally enough, demand that everyone shall return to' the place which he held before the Cessation of work, and -the shfpowjiersj on the' other hand, urge thctt they cannot fairly break faith with the men whom they have engaged to fill the place of the strikers. I do not propose any specific form of settlement, but what I" •ay is that the unionists need have no fear of the competition of the men whom you call free laborers here. The members of the unions ape admittedly the best workers, and must, naturally, m the course of events, resume their.. old places on the wharves or on sjiipb mrd. The process may take a little time, for the non-u'hibhists cannot be ousted m a day. All that need be stipulated for, however, is that the employers should not slioiv any undue preference for the non-union men.; I have no fear of the employers doing this, since, if only from motives* of ■selfrinterest^: they will prefer thejexperienced, hard-working unionist- to the less able non-unionist. I know this for a fact, because several employers have assured me that t^iey Avould much rather employ the union men if they could do so without 'the fear of being dictated to by the unions, and having the conduct of their business practically taken out of their dwn hands." We think Mr Champion jsentirely right, and would suggest that the way to a termination of the present difficulty would be for the Unionists on their part to modify the rule against their members working alongside free laborers, and for the employees on their part to agree to take back their former Unionist employers at once, where this can be done without breaking engagements since entered into with other men, and m the latter case as fast as vacancies occur to fill them up front the:ranks of those Unionists for whom places cannot at present be found; One thing is certain and that is that were must be concession on both sides if the present unhappy state of things is-to be put an end to with any probability of; the permanent establishment of pleasant and satisfactory relations between em' ployers and employed.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18901007.2.6

Bibliographic details

THE CRUX OF THE LABOR DIFFICULTY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2537, 7 October 1890

Word Count
758

THE CRUX OF THE LABOR DIFFICULTY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2537, 7 October 1890

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