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TRADE UNIONISM., Issue 8053, 1 November 1889
TO TIIE EDITOR. g IRi _A trades council has been formed in Dunedin, and I have no doubt that it will do a great amount of 'good. But as it can only affect those trades who have formed themselves into unions, all others can have no voice in its deliberations. I think that now is the time for all those trades who have not as yet formed unions to do so at once; lam sure that all will benefit by so doing. To those tradesmen who have been brought up hero, whero they can have little knowledge of the benefit of unions, I would briefly state my tirsl acquaintance with them. In the town in which I was brought up in tho Old Country, at the time I was an apprentice, there were in tho whole district only two trados that had formed unions, and while all others' wages at that time was from 183 to LI per weok, these two trades (stonemasons and ironmoulders) obtained from 24s to 27s per week. The only reason why the wages of the latter were so high was simply this—while the masters had only to deal with the individual in all the other trades, they had to deal with the whole body in these two cases,
There is one trade with which I am connected—viz,, blacksmiths, which I should like to see stir themselves in this matter. They should come out strongly and try and regain their old position in the van of trades progress. I am sorry to say that from the very commencement of trades unions their position has been nothing short of a disgrace to themselves. The result of this was so clearly shown at one time that it is surprising to everyone that the bulk of them Btill hold aloof from unions. The time to which I refer was just after trades unions had been firmly established in most of the trades. There then occurred a large strike in the shipbuilding yards on the Clyde, and, after a bitter struggle of some weeks' duration between combined capital and tho men (backed by their unions), the masters had to agree to the men's terms—all but the poor blacksmiths, who had to go in as they came out, because they had no union to back them up, and the masters knew that fact. It was shortly after this that a few of the more thoughtful of them banded themselves together, and formed what is known as the Associated Blacksmiths of Scotland. This society has done a vast amount of good to the trade; but, although they managed to start branches in nearly all the towns in Scotland, I am sorry to say that never at any time has their membership roll contained a twentieth part of the blacksmiths of Scotland.
I hope that others in the trade here will take this matter up. Let one and all for once throw aside the petty jealousy that has so long been the cause of our disunion, and form a society that will be a benefit to us one and all. That this is needed in Dunedin amongst us, as well as other kindred trades, is plainly manifest, as it is an open secret that at least one of the leading furnaces in town has been for the laßt year or two working with the firm determination to have wages reduced to the same level as in the Old Country. It is a pity that they can get both managers and men compliant enough to assist them in doing so. I hopo to see the trade take up this matter with some spirit. —I am, etc., An Old Blacksmith. Duncdin, October 30.
TRADE UNIONISM., Issue 8053, 1 November 1889
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