COST OF LIVING.
BASIC WAGE QUESTION.
DUNEDIN, April ,3. The engineers and tinsmiths applied to the Arbitration Court for an increase in wages. Asked what had been done in Christchurch, the President said that what had been done, up to the present, was to fix wages ranging from Is 3£d up to Is 7 id, and in. all cases the Court had given a bonus of $d. The union's representative said they would rely on the Court's decision in Christchurch.
Mr Brown, for the ironmasters, obiccted that the case should be heard here. Mr Brpw"n went on to say that the Court said on Monday that they had no idea of putting down the basic living wage for unskilled men. Then they said they would decide what wage was to be paid to skilled men.. Further, the Court said they were going to allow the Government Statistician to regulate the amount of money necessary for. each cf these men to live.
The President: No, not to live, to represent the difference between the normal cost of living and the abnormal. Mr Scott: The_ basic wage can be re-opened at any time. Mr Brown: It is impossible for you to decide from the Statistician's point of view the extra money required for a home.
The President: We took the average man's, expenditure, and the increased cost in purchasing those articles. That is the only practical method to follow. Mr Brown said the Court would then allow a primary industry to dominate the whole position. They threw the whole responsibility on the manufacturer to provide for any extra cost of living that ,:the other party liked to impose. How could they give £5 a week to one man without taking it out of the pockets of-another man of the same' group ? The powers of the Court were not? wide enough to cover, the in-dustrial-decline of this country. New Zealand could not pay la basic wage of £3p.er week. The amount payable to eacji 'worker was less than £3 per week, and this did not include any provision for "rent, profit, and interest. The ,Court -was .working on the wrong principle, v The conditions that oppressed the local industries were beyond the Court's scope and power. It was ridiculous for the Court to say they were going to grant a wage to the worker when they only dealt with practically 60:000 bread winners^, or one-eighth >of the total. They were simply taking from the pockets of the majority to provide for the minority, and then they were going to get the .Government Statistician to enquire into the manner of how.the worker spent his income.
The Court intimated that they would consider the applications.
The shift engineers of the Duuedin Corporation" applied for a war bonus of 15 per cent. It was stated that'the wages X'anged from £5 12s 6d weekly for first shift engineers to £4 weekly for the others. The union asked for a war bonus to enable them to meet.the increased cost of living. •
Mr G. A. Lewin, town clerk, for the Corporation, asked was there no limit on weekly wages on which the increased cost of living was to be based. Hitherto the Court had been dealing with the ordinary artisan. The request of these seven men was not serious in itself, but in justice to the whole of the Corporation employees it would be difficult for the Corporation to know how to deal with other menl If it could be shown that a. man receiving £5 12s 6d was entitled to an increase of 15 per cent., was he to stop there or continue on ?
The President said that the Court had never previously had under consideration the question of high-salaried men for the purpose of meeting the increased cost of living. He was glad it had been raised.
Mr Levin: We are looking for a lead from you, in justice to other and lower-paid men.
The President said the Court would consider the matter.
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COST OF LIVING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919
COST OF LIVING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9578, 4 April 1919
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