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MEETING OF PAINTERS., Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
MEETING OF PAINTERS.
The adjourned meeting of journeymen painters was held last evening in the Coffee Palace. There were about fifty present; Mr J. Knowles (president of the society) in the chair.
The Chairman 7 stated that, in accordance with the resolution passed at the last meeting, a telegram had been forwarded to Mr Fish in the following terms:—" Did you authorise your manager to pay journeymen painters at the rate of 5s a day, or are you going to employ boys at the Exhibition while journeymen painters are walking the streets?" In reply to that, Mr Fish had telegraphed :—" Don't understand your telegram. Will reply fully after communicating with Mr Wren." That was on Tuesday ; and on the same day Mr Fißh wired: " Mr John Knowlen, president Painters' Union, Dunedin. My manager informs me he has no painters at work at less than Da a day. No one will be employed by me to do painters' work except best tradesmen at full wages. Sorry to hear so many men out of work. H. S. Fish, Jun." (Laughter.) He (the chairman) had given nobody any information about that telegram, but in that night's Stab he read the following :—" We learn that, in accordance with the resolution passed at the laßt meeting of the Dunedin Painters' Society, the following telegram was forwarded to Mr H. S. Fish, M.H.R. : 'Did you authorise your manager to pay 5s per day to journeymen painters, and are you going to employ all boys at present at work painting the Exhibition in connection with your contract ?' To this Mr Fish replied : ' I employ all journeymen painters at the Exhibition at not less thau !)* per day.'" Whoever put in that report was quite in error, ub would be seen by the telegrams just read. Mr James Wren, manager for Messrs Fish and Son, had written to the Star saying that there was no truth in the statement that was made at tho last meeting of painterß to the effect that ho was offering 5s a day to journeymen, the fact being, he said, that Messrs Fish and Son had at present sixteen journeymen painters in their employ, most of them members of the society, whose wages ranged from 9s to 13s 6d a day. The vice-president of the society and the speaker thought it was their duty to roply to that letter, and they did so on the 17th. A vote of thanks was accorded to the president and the vice-president for the action they had taken in replying to Mr Wren's letUr. The Chairman said [that Mr Fish's telegram was open for discussion, and it was for those present to say whether it was a sufficient reply to their telegram. It seemed to him either that Mr Fish had not answered the 'latter portion of the workmen's telegram or that he was willing to pay 9s per day to the Exhibition hands, If Mr Fish was willing to pay 9s per day, the fault for the present state of affairs must lie with his manager. Mr Dawson : Well, why doesn't he pay 9a, instead of going behind the bush after engaging a man ? Mr Lewis : There is only one journeyman there. —(Laughter.) Mr Nash thought it would be better to appoint a committee to investigate thrmatter thoroughly. The meeting had nothing to go on in the absence of Mr Fish and Mr Wren. His notion was that the meeting should ignore the telegram altogether. The Chairman explained that the reason the society had taken action was that a man employed at the Exhibition proved to them that he was only being paid 5s a day. Mr Dawson, being invited to relate his experiences at the Exhibition, said he went there on Wednesday week and asked for a job. Mr Wren said he was paying from 18s to 25s per week for boys. He (Mr Dawson) said that he was a journeyman, and was in the society. Mr Wren told him to start in the morning. i Mr Glen said that if Mr Dawson had got 7s or 8s a day ho would not have come to the society. He (Mr Dawson) was not a society man at all. The Chairman asked Mr Dawson if Mr Wren "sacked" him, or if he left on his own accord. Mr Dawson said that on Saturday he told Mr Wren he did not think he would go back again, and Mr Wren then asked him into the office and paid him I2s 6d. What did the meeting make out of that ? Mr Watson said that it appeared to him after reading Mr Fish's telegram and know-
ing what was coming on at the Exhibition that there was a contradiction, and if they telegraphed till Domesday they would get no moro satisfaction. He counselled that they should either form a new union, or keep the society as it was, or let tho matter drop. The Chairman agreed that it was no use telegraphing any more. It would cost money, and most likely be a waste of time. He would suggest that someone should move —" That these telegrams are not satisfactory," and let the meeting proceed with the next business. Mr GlLLift moved in the direction indicated. ~ Mr Forsyth thought they should not throw over Mr Dawson in that way, but should make a test case of it. He moved—"That this meeting assist Mr Dawson to take proceedings to recover the balance of his wages." This motion was put and carried, and at a later stage the, hat was taken round to obtain subscriptions. Mr Nash suggested that the meeting accept Mr Fish's telegram in good faith—that was, that he should discharge all the lads—well, perhaps not all of them, but eighteen out of twenty—(loud laughter)— and replace them by journeymen. He would move in that direction, Mr Watson remarked that Mr Fish ignored the boys in his telegram—there was no mention of them. Mr Nash : Never mind; if he chooses to return good for evil, so much tho better.— (Laughter.) Mr Leaks : He is the right sort to do that.—(More laughter,) Mr Glen seconded the motion, and said tho mover's words were coming true, as all the boys were to be discharged next day.— (Loud applause.) A Voice : Is the whitewashing all done ? —(Laughter.) Mr Gillie having withdrawn his motion, Mr Nash's motion was put and carried.
The Cuaiuman said the next business was either to strengthen the society or to form a union. The old society had been more of a mutual concern between master and men, but all that had fallen through now, The question was whether it was to the advantage of the men to form a union to look after their own interests. There was so much boy labor being done now that ho would guarantee that in twelve months' time the men would not be getting half what they were getting now. Boys were now getting 43 to 5s a day, and some 3s 6d. After all the big work was done the boys would be thrown out, and consequently they would come on tho market as journeymen painters. For these boys 4s to 5s a day would be good pay. There were any number of old handß who would sooner walk about the street than take low wages, which they could all get, for the employers would jump at the chance. Mr Forsyth referred to a report which had been published of the last meeting, in which it was stated that he (Mr Forsyth) had mentioned that Mr Smith had said it was impossible for him to pay 9j a day while other masters were only paying ss. The report was incorrect, inasmuch as no nameß were mentioned. The Chairman said he could not recollect Mr Harry Smith's name aa having been mentioned at all at last meeting. Mr Watson moved, and Mr Gillie seconded—" That the meeting form a painters' union." Mr Miller moved that the society should be allowed to wiud up its own affairs, and let those who were present say if they would have a new union. A lengthy discussion took place, with the result that a number of those present gave in their names as members of the society, and Messrs Smith, Paterson, Rigby, Glen, and Randell wero appointed a committee to draw up a code of rules. It was resolved that meetings should be held on Wednesday evenings.
MEETING OF PAINTERS., Issue 7964, 20 July 1889
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