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THE LABOR MOVEMENT

[By ViWEBAN.]

Brief contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement are invited. •

UNION MEETINGS ON SUNDAYS

At a recent meeting of the Anglican Diocesan Synod at Auckland, Canon HaselJen referred to tho case of the Dunedm rramways Union v. Ingle, and moved—"That this meeting of the Diocesan Synod jf Auckland, in view of the judgment recently ijiven in Dunedm in a case in which the Tramways Union sued a member for absenting himself from the meetings of thtfurdonheld on Sundays, the said judgment declaring that such meetings were legally hold, and therefore inferentially that'the union were within their i iehts in inflicting a fine, desire to express their regret that the Dunedin Tramwaya Union are not onlv holding their business meetings on Sunday, but axe endeavoring to coerce those of "the members who conscientiously- object into doing the same." The Bev. *A. Richards seconded the motion, -which was carried unanimously. The above resolution was brought under the notice of the officials of the union concerned, who said "that probably the Synod had no business of their own to discuss, and were hard up for something to fill in their time; but even then they might have found something nearer home, where thev could have been surer of their facts, to discKW and deplore." The position, as explained to me, is that if the meetings were held in the ordinary way on » week night, half the members would be on duty, and would not be able to attend. There is no time other than Sundays, "before noon, when meetings at which a fall attendance could be obtained could bo held, unless at midnight on Saturdays. It was also pointed out that the union did not coerce any of their members who had ronscientious "objections. The rules say: "Any member absenting himself from the March and September meetings without a sufficient apology in writing shall be lined «aie shilling." So all that a member who has conscientious objections to Sunday meetings had to do is to drop a line to the secretary, and no fine wilf be imposed. Tho case in question, I was informed, was not a case cf religions scruples or conscientious objection, but simply a man who wanted to spend his Sunday mornings as lie If all members did that there would bo no meetings and no union. It would hare been more to the point if the i»ynod had looked nearer home and done something to sto£ the running of trams on Sunday morning in Auckland. There the tramway men have to work up to 11 o'clock on Sunday mornings, and resume again as soon as the church services are over. Presumably to take people to and from church. THE FACTORY ACT. Many prominent Labor men were jubilant when, on July 29, Mr T. M. Wilford, M.P., succeeded in carrying the second reading of his Factories "Act Amendment Bill, practically -without opposition, and without a division being called for. The Prime Minister, speaking in the course of the eecond-reading debate, said: " I do not propose to take up a position either for the proposal or against the proposal, but I want evidence, and I feel therefore that the Bill should be sent to the Labor Bills Committee." Mr Wilford opposed this. He thought it would have the effect of killing the Bill, as there might he no further opportunity of dealing with it after coming back from the Labor Bills Committee. Mr Witty objected to sending the Bill to the Labor Bills Committee, as it was only a one clause measure, to repeal clause 20 of the Factories Act, 1908. In the course of Ids speech he (Mr Witty) said: "■lt is a wonder to> me that the clause has not been deleted years ago. I do not know whether the hon. member himself read the clause, but under clause 19 of the Act of 1908 every person that is a female or a boy that works in a factory i<S to be worked" for only 45 tours a week. But clause 20 reads as follows—this is the clause the hon. member wishes to repeal: *Tho provisions of the last preceding section are hereby modified in the case of ■; woollen-mills to the extent following—that is u> r.ay: Women over the age of 18 years, and boys, may be employed therein —(a) for not "more than 48 hours, excluding meal times, in any one week; and (b) for not more than eight hours and threequarters in any one day; and (c) for not more than four hours and a-half continuously without an interval of at least threeqoarters of an hour for a meal.' Seeing that the work, as has been pointed out by the last speaker, is hard, and that they have to stand most of the time when working at their looms, it is only reasonable and fair they should be treated in the same way as other people." After the second reading Mr Wilford moved that the Bill lie committed that night fortnight. Mr Okey (Taranaki moved as an amendment that it be sent to the Labor Bills Committee. On being taken the amendment was defeated by 34 votes to 32. On September 23 the Bill passed its third reading in the House of Representatives without farther discussion, and it was thought by many that it was in a fair '.vay for reaching the Statute Book this session. On September 40 the Hon. .T. T. Paul moved tho second reading of the BUI in the Legislative Council, and it was referred to the Labor Bills Committee, nnere ifc evidently met with strong opposition, as we find on October 9 that the Hon. Mr Paul moved—"That the Factories Act Amendment Bill be rrmmitted to n committee of the whole Council for Wednesday next, the 14th October.'* Ho said that tinder ordinary circumstances he would have had very little, if anything, to say in moving this motion, hut he realised the peculiar circumstances that had arisen in connection with tho Bill, and he lealiscd, too, that were he to miss this opportunity of speaking on the Bill he might find it impossible later on to pflt his views in connection with the Bill before tho Council. Now, let them for a moment consider what the Bill wis. It was a very short Bill of one clause, and its object was to place \vom«n work i/Mf in woollen-mills on the "same froUm* exactly with regard to working hours as the Women in all other factoj'es. For rnslan""., tho hours for women workers nt the present time in the bootmaking, clothmir. saddlery and harness, laundry, and other factories wore 45 hours a" week. Only in woollen-mills were the hours fixed at 48. - . . Now, there was a peculiar anomaly in connection with this woollen industry. A hosiery factory con- ■• nected with a woollen-mill, and part nf the woollen-mill, worked its women 43

hours per we*k, yet the hosiery factory—and there were several in different parts of the country—existing apart from the ' woollen-mill was compelled to work its women workers- only 45 hours per week. They need not be surprised to find, as had happened in Dunedin when the separate hosiery factories had been brought into competition with the woollen-mills, which had the advantage of three hours pei week, th.it the separate hosiery factory went oat of business, That was a weak ' anomaly that at least ought to be remedied i and, of course, if this Bill passed, women working in woollen-mills and 1 hosiery factories would he in the same position a* in all other factories. . . . ■ He desired now to speak about a phase "of this Bill which was rather singular. The Bill had had an unusual experience. Hon. members who had followed its passage throjgh anothfr place would remember that the principle of the Bill had not ence been challenged at any itaga there. *' '.Therd had been a division, oa the question whether it should be sent to the Labor Bills" Committee, but the principle of the Bill had not been challenged by anybody ' or any party in the other Heme As a matter of fast, the Prima Minister bim<:.<lt kid given. special facilities for the pas£;tMge of this Bill. He suggested that in IP 85- House the Premier had given such |&-?J&difties for the passage of the Bill that |^JM.uninitiated might be misled into the .t&tttue Government were in favor fept-the Bill' because special facilities had Ejii.acrc.eryea td push, it through. He sug-

sarily mean that the Government favored the Bill . . . but he suggested that,, seeing that the Bill went through tho other place under exceptional circumstances, and that tho opposition to the Bill so quickly developed itself in this place, he was able, as the member in charge of tho Bill, to come to a very definite conclusion that the Bill wouhl not be allowed to .pass. Taking into consideration tho fact that the opposition to tho Bill in the Labor Bills Committee was very definite indeed, he suggested to the Minister—seeinjj that he had been so kind m some of his veiled 'suggestions—that it was a rather remarkable fact that in tha Labor Bills Committee every man who was nominated by the Reform Govern; ment, except the Labor members and on«j Liberal, voted against this Bill, and voted against it witho.it any discussion of any sort whatever. Ho could have understood it if there had been some objection to the Bill, and if attempts had been made to have somo amendment made in the Bill, but then w.t nothing of tho sort. The matter seemed to hirri to have been perfectly well understood. He did not suggest there was any arrangement between any other body or any section at all. Ho simply suggested that it was squelched with wonderful unanimity, and squelched against the wishes of the Labor representatives on tho Labor Bills Committee and the wishes of the one Liberal who happened to be on the Labor Bills Committee. Xow, ho asked why tho Cornell should stand between the women workers and this reform? He felt very strongly about tin interests of the women workers in woollen-mills, and the necessity for their being placed in the sama position as the women workers in the other factories.

The Hon. Mr Beehan seconded the motion, and. referring to the' Hon. H. D. Bell's attitude on the Labor Bills Committee, said he could not understand how the lion, gentleman could logically object to this concession being granted* to the women in th.- woollen-mills", seeing that it was granted in all other factories. The hou. gentleman, of course, was in a different position from his colleagues in an other place, inasmuch as thjy had to face the people. This made all the difference. As he l Hon. Mr Beehan) had interjected when the Hon. Mr Paul was :peaking. Bills were passed in another place and sent up to the Council specially to kill them. He had seen it done.

The notion was opposed bv several members, including the Hon. H. D. B-VJ, Lealler of tho Council. It came out during tno discussion that the Labor Bilis Committee hnd reported that, in th"iiopinion, the Bill should not be proceeded with. Finally, the motion that it be re fcrred to a committee of tho whole Conn cil >vas defeated and the woollen-nill workers will have to wait and see if a new Parliament will grant them tho concession they have so long agitated for, and put them in the same position as other factory workers.

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Bibliographic details

THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Evening Star, Issue 15643, 6 November 1914

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THE LABOR MOVEMENT Evening Star, Issue 15643, 6 November 1914

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