THE RAILWAY EMPLOYES’ COMPULSORY INSURANCE BILL.
TO THE EDITOR. Sir,— ln last night’s issue of the Star appeared a loading article and a letter signed “ Dissatisfied.” Ido not intend to criticise your article, but I am certain that ninetenths of your readers will, after they have become acquainted with the nature and clauses of the Bill, pronounce it an uncalled for end iniquitous measure. “ Dissatisfied ” has very ably shown how unjustly its provisions will affect all railway employes, of whatever grade they are in the service; but, with your permission, I will touch on one or two matters that he has overlooked.
In the House Sir Harry denied having had any hand in framing the Bill. It has emanated, ho said, from the Railway Commissioners. Well, sir, admitting that they are responsible for it, has it, I wonder, ever struck these gentlemen, who each receive fully LI,OOO a year, that the amount to be deducted from the men’s wages is exorbitant and out of all proportion for the socalled benefits to be conferred. I am alluding to the bone and sinew of the serviceplatelayers, guards, porters, drivers, firemen, etc., who receive 6s, 7b, Ba, 9s, and up to 10a per day. I will deal first with the platelayer, who receives 36s per week ; and his case will do for all the rest, for in the railway service for every man getting from 8s to 10s a day there are twenty who get from 6s to 7s 6d. Out of this it is proposed to deduct 2s per week from his scanty pittance. Now, the bulk of the men are insured already ; if not in the Government office, they are in the A.M.P. or some other one, and they all belong to a benefit society of some sort, for, being mostly married men, the sick pay they receive by right when unfortunately laid up is a great help to them and their families, and, above all, the services of a medical man and medicines free for the family are of vital and paramount importance. It is absolutely imperative that ho keep himself financially good in his lodge, for what working man could afford to pay a doctor’s bill and for medicines say for a month’s sickness in his family ? Some of the men belong to two friendly societies. They have thus the choice of two medical men, and the services of both if required ; and moreover would receive LI per week from each society as sick pay, Now in the railway service if a man meets with an accident, even to the loss of a limb, he only receives half pay for the first three months and quarter pay for the next three after that nothing. If an employe is absent through sickness, his pay is stopped until he returns to work. It is then that be reaps the benefit of his prudence and forethought by belonging to a friendly society. The men have enough to do already to both ends meet and bring up their families out of their small pay, and how are they going to pay this extra amount of from 8s to 11s and 12s per month ? They cannot do it and belong to a friendly society as well; and from my experience of the leading men of the various lodges here I am certain that they will have a big word to say in opposition to this Bill before they will allow so many of their brethren to drop out of their ranks. A neighbor of mine—an employe—informs me that what he would have to contribute monthly under this compulsory Bill, added to what he already pays into friendly societies, insurance, etc., would just take LI per month out of the LlO he receives. My fellow working men throughout the colony will understand what that means where there is a large family to rear. Sir, no one knows where the shoe pinches but he who wears it, and I am certain that these gentlemen in Wellington, with their large incomes, can form no conception of the hard struggle that men who only get from 6s to 7s per day have to make both ends meet, or else they would not make the contributions so high, The railway employes do not need so much grandmotherly legislation. They thoroughly understand the necessity of providing for their families in case of sickness or death, and do so. There must be a very largo number of railway employes in New Zealand, and if the Commissioners want to form a fund for cases of accident or retiring allowances, a levy, say of Is monthly from each employe, together with the fines and penalties imposed upon them, added to the respectable sum of L 1,500, which the fines already amount to, and the interest of the whole constantly accruing, would in the course of three years amount to a very large sum indeed. Moreover, sir, I do not see any provision made in the Bill, as quoted by
“Dissatisfied,” for such of the employes who have already been from seven to ten years in the service. Are these men to start on the same footing as a cadet who has only been in the service as many months as they have years ? I will conclude with the firm conviction that this Bill will meet with strong opposition when brought before the House, and one of the main factors will be its title of compulsory, a word which rises in the gorge of freemen all the world over.—l am, etc., A Working Man.
Dunedin, September 21. [Our correspondent ought to accept the assurance of the Premier that the Railway Commissioners alone are responsible for the Bill— Ed. E.S.]
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THE RAILWAY EMPLOYES’ COMPULSORY INSURANCE BILL., Evening Star, Issue 8020, 24 September 1889
THE RAILWAY EMPLOYES’ COMPULSORY INSURANCE BILL. Evening Star, Issue 8020, 24 September 1889
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