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CLERKS' HOURS, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
TO Till EDITOR. Sir,—ln ono cf your issues last week I natlced a letter referring to the sweating system, and stating that tbu writer had observed another pbaio of the same in tho system of lute hours that prevail among olerks generiJly. Now, sir, I would like to ask you, and through you the clerks themselves, whOße fault It 'B, and who 1b most to blame for the wretched state of affairs that exi-it among those who hare to earn their livelihood by office work. I say most emphatically that tb> oloiks themselves are solely to blame, and why ? For this ono reason chit fly: they will not unite and protect themselves, and they deserve all they got In tho way of long hours and overworked brains and oongtltutions for being too passive in this respect. For one man t > try and form a union among this class of the community would be like rolling a log up hill, but if the gentlemen ia question would form a union spontaneously the results would bo like rolling a log down the hill. And jet they won't see it. If you ask any of them why they don't dt this or that, the answer is: " Oh, what can we do? lam a married man, and if I don'c work late the boss will get someone else who u'iil; and I can't afford to loose ray billet."
I say, sir, that where there Is a will thero Is a way, and this question of being discharged Is nine-tenths a bogie, which ihey hug to their bosoms beciuse they have not tho moral courage to step out of the beaten track and look around for dayiiifht. I am quite eure If a union were formed by the clerks, the possibility of observing offices lighted up every nU'ht in all parti of tho City, instead of being tho rule, wou.d bo tho < xc. p!i m. All they have- to do U to stand shoulder to shoulder demand only reasonable concussions, and show a wholesomo and conciliatory spirit, and the thing is done. Ai it is men go on and have been going on till eaoh new jeu finds them less a man thtn the last. The question is a national one and ou/Lt to be faced as such. Tho Rev. 11. Waddell (all honor to his name) has broken the lion's Jaw for the female workors ; and it only remains for they thenuelvts to cling for dear life to the lifebuoy that he has thrown out to them. But do the men want bim to do tho same for them ? for it seen s they can't help themselves. Sometimes I think that tho reason thn genteel portion of the working population cannot form a union and firoteot themselves from overwork and long hours, les in tho fact of bo many of them indulging in that unwholesome luxury of false pride. Mr Ttllhat couldu'c think of uniting in a common cause with Mr SmiUhat. "It would lower my dignity, you know," and so on. And then, again, mony men look forward to the day when they will be employers of labor th'-mselvcs, and think that they can wait till then and then thiy can do as they please, and possibly want their workpeop'e to do for them as they have had to do for other*. It Is human nature to oppress if not opposed. Every l»w running through Ntture proves that there must be an opposing influence to kesp thiDgs in tbolr places. The slaveowners of America and Affica whipped and shot their slaves with iinpu- ity when they had no opposition now things are chinning in this respect. So, fiom sheer fo'ca of human nature, will the manager of a warehouse or (actory get as much as he can out of hi* emploj 6s and t ay them small wages for it, unless they, 'as men, form themselves into a strong bodly of united interests and protect themselves. In conclusion, I will ask if any of the class referred to in this letter will advertise and call a meeting of clerks and all interested In this great national question to form a union. If so, I feel sure ho or they will nave a large meeting and a liberal response.—l am, eto , Anti-Slavbht. Duucdin, July 16. TO TUB EDITOR. Sir,—A writer in the Star of last night under the signature of "Countryman" endeavors to enlist public sympathy for the clerks in Bond street by Btating that he hai seen many offices lit up at 8.46 p.m., and presents this as anothor phase of tho sweating system. Now, while sympathising with the ir ove nent to mitigate the evils arising from ke« > competition In cutting down woges, particularly amongst women, to a point that is barely sufficient to keep soul and body together, I do think it 1b carrying sympathy a little too far when it is sought to extend ■uch sympathy to clerks having occasionally, in omos of tha Home mails and stock-taking, to go bick to the office for an hour or two of an evening. I admit there aro efflcjs of public oompanios and private firms in town where lights aro seen burning every night of tho week ; but I have a shrewd suspicion that in the cue of Mich offices the (Ooaiion Is more at the tnstanci of tho clrrks thcmselvis than the mantes. This eight hour movement is simply run to death. P lint me the man, either in tho 0 d Country or the c Monies, who has ever left his mirk on tho page of this world's history, cither commercially or other, wise, who made it a point to limit his service to eight hours a day; on the oontrary, tho Bucecasful men all over the world, in every field of occupation or enterprise, are those who are ready and willing to work their eight or ten or twelve hours until tha day's work is don*.—l am, etc., Old Couktryuah. Dunedin, July 12.
CLERKS' HOURS, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
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