Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1914. LABOURER AND HIS HIRE.
Ail important principle in municipal economics was raised at the Ash burton Council's meeting on Monday night. This was that an employee of the Council is to be paid the full rate of wages, irrespectivel of his age or ability. Leaving out/ of consideration the question of whether the men employed by the Council are competent or otherwise to clo, the work required of them, it must loe admitted that the Council has established '■$ precedent that is not likely to be followed,, in v any private '\ business. The' Council has shown on several occasions lately that sentiment counts for nothing with it when it comes to a question of relieving a fellow-councillor of his moral obligation in connection with a Glasgow lease, but in the case of the wages to its employees its action can only be regarded as a concession to sentiment. Councillors Stewart and Buchanan probably will be charged with being callous, and with a disregard of those finer feelings that prompt the lavish disbursement of other people's money; but the position is this: that whatever private benefactions a councillor may be inclined to idulge in,, it is his duty to see that the -funds of which he is virtually a trustee shall not be- spent unwisely or extravagantly. It is not contended, of course, that the rate of pay is excessive. ThY councillors are supposed to be practical men, with a knowledge of the value of an employee's labour, and there was no question raised by any of them that 9s 4d per day was too much to pay a good man. Judge Heydqn' has laid it down that £2 8s per week is a "living wage" for in Sydney, and in comparison with the cost;, of; Hying, as between Sydney and Ashburton it cannot be said that £2 16s a week is more than .sufficient to 'support a family of, four here. But youth will be served, and it would be idle to. contend that there are many .men at the.advanced age quoted-oy Councillor Stewart who are capable of doing the Sanle amount of work as a vigorous young man* V Judgjiiig' by the discussion oil the question, an impression seems tO/ prevail that the Council -should not demand as.intich from its employees as a private contractor would. ."'SO long as the work is done fairly and, honestly," said one councillor, "the Council should not say: ' Because you're an old man you'll get no more work.'" Only a man of a benevolent and ■kindly disposition could have given' utterance to such a remark, and he will doubtless get credit for his kindness of heart. It is a pity, therefore, to have to dispel an illusion of this kind by reminding the member that , each individual ratepayer in the Borough has a personal interest in every. shilling spent, and that, collectively, they are scarcely likely to .agree that Sth'e; Council s benevolence should. be exercised with their money. The Council ihas been forced into the position 'ofr- paying: a . uniform rate : ,of wages, anclut is its plain duijy to insist that full value is given.