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PITY THE POOR SAILOR.

TO '#IE EDITOR. Sir,—The Hon. Mr Fisher, Minister of Marine in the Massey Ministry, must be a wee-minded man. What a "set" he seems to have on our sailors. In order to thwart them cfuring strike time he suspended the shipping laws of New Zealand. That was a questionable proceeding, to say the least, and the Minister himself evidently knows that, for now, in order to stave off fancied retribution, he is curtailing the seamen's franchise rights. Altogether it is a silly business, resembling the case »f the boy who does a wrong and then does further wrong to hide the first wrongdoing. In the case of the boy you find some .mitigation in the fact that the culprit is merely a boy, with a boy's limitations, and as yet unexpended outlook. But such an excuse is inapplicable in the case of a Minister of the Crown. One looks for bigger things —and surely one has the right to do so. But, ofter all, perhaps Mr Fisher's "folly" is no worse than the general treatment meted out to the sailors, who have made' Britain mistress of the seas. British ships are, mostly manned by foreigners, because the workhouse fare and sweated rate of wages attract but a limited number of the right class of Britishers to adopt the seafaring profession. The sea has made Britain's wealth, and |the British able seaman on sailing vessels gets the princely remuneration of £3 per month, leaving half-pay for his wife and family while he is absent for many months. That is the modus operandi of manning British ships with British sailors, and who will say that the British Navy is the better of it to-day? But the sailor is an ignored element in maritime business. Who cares for the mere sailor? Even our dairy associations make special arrangements for the carrying of their produce by steamers largely manned by Germans. Has anybody noticed since this war broke out which vessels carried half a dozen German stokers in their black squads? These ships are training stokers for the German navy, and the ships on which the training is done carry our dairy and other produce to London. Then there are the big steamers that carry German goods from London to New Zealand at 10s per ton less than British goods—and they also carry a complement of German stokers, else I am mistaken. And while these things have been going on innocent people have written to the papers deploring the decrease of British sailors for British ships. New Zealand once led the way in the emancipation of seamen, but sinoe Minister Fisher has been at the tiller the tide seems to have turned. Hoping you will publish this and oblige an Ex-Shellback. October 26.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141026.2.3.5

Bibliographic details

PITY THE POOR SAILOR., Evening Star, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914

Word Count
463

PITY THE POOR SAILOR. Evening Star, Issue 15633, 26 October 1914

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