THE NEW ZEALAND EXHIBITION AND THE TRADE UNIONISTS.
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir,—When tho subject of tbe New Zealand Exhibition was first mooted, the idea uppermost in the mind of everyone was that it would afford a grand opportunity to the colony to exhibit its natural products and show its progress in art and manufacture; and this result might have been easily attained, with tho hearty co-operation of all parties, from the humblest laborer to the wealthy merchant, had it not been for the antagonism engendered between certain contractors and the trades unions. At the opening ceremony it is desired by the Exhibition Committee that the various trades unions should be well represented in the procession ; and Dr Belcher, a gentleman whese sympathies are always on tho side of labor, has been striving his hardest to enlist their co-operation. But bow is it possible that the memberof trades unions can grace the occasion with their presence when some of those contractors whoso tenders have been accepted have availed themselves of boy and unskilled labor to tho exclusion of those who are perfect masters of their craft ? The temper of our artisans is plainly indicated in the following resolution, which was passed at a meeting of the Painters' Union on last Monday evening :—" That one of the chief aims of our society being the protection of our interests as painters, we cannot, as members of such a society, take any part in the Exhibition opening ceremony owing to the fact that the rate of wages paid to painters employed at tho building was 4s or os less than the current rate, thus directly injuring us as skilled tradesmen." A similar resolution has likewiso been passed by the Carpenters' and other unions. Of course it is too late now for the Exhibition Committee to repair themischief which has been wrought, butatthesametimeitcannotexpectthat those who suffer will give their countenance to the ceremony. Still, the bitter feeling which has been created ought not to be without a bene* ficial result; it should impress upon our governing bodies the necessity of attaching a new condition to all tenders that may be issued in future. Let it be understood that no tender will be entertained from any firm unless the pledge is given that the hands he employs are paid the fair Bcale of wages recognised by the trades unions. This condition is insisted upon by the London School Board and other bodies in England, and should also rule in the colonies. Not many months ago Dunedin loudly raised its voice against the sweating system then prevalent amongst the needlewomen; and should it not be as strongly denounced when it is brought to bear upon our painters and carpenters ? Let it not be supposed that this evil only affects the workmen—it equally militates against the fair employers. How can they pay the recognised scale to those they employ and compete with their unprincipled neighbors, who pick up their hands in the street, pay the lowest price for their labor, and fill the places with incompetent youths which ought to be occupied by skilled artisans ? Must our trades unionists follow the example of the London dock laborers, and resolve upon a strike to force certain contractors to behave with fairness to their brother tradesmen, and with humanity to those by whose labor they live ? In the erection of a temple devoted to peace and prosperity, Dunedin should have been spared this unseemly antagonism between labor and capital.—l am, etc., E. S. Mantz. North-east Valley, October 24.
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THE NEW ZEALAND EXHIBITION AND THE TRADE UNIONISTS., Evening Star, Issue 8046, 24 October 1889
THE NEW ZEALAND EXHIBITION AND THE TRADE UNIONISTS. Evening Star, Issue 8046, 24 October 1889
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