THE LABOR MOVEMENT
Brief contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement are invited.
Thero can be no doubt that tho Labor organisations throughout the Dominion are going to make a strong effort in the first place to oust the Reform party from office; secondly, to secure a* many Labor representatives in the new Parliament as possible. There is evidently (in the four, centres, at any rate) an agreement as to which 6eat6 shall bo contested by Liberal and Labor candidates respectively. "Industrial Tramp," in the Auckland ' Star,' says s "If the present Government are to be ousted from office under the reactionary 'first past tho post' system of election, there must be a temporary selfeffacement of Labor, until an Administration is returned that will introduce and carry into effect the system of proportional representation. Then there will bo no fear but that Labor will be adequately represented in Parliament. I am glad to see that there is an earnest disposition in some parte of tho South to bring this about, and I am not without hope that in other parts the same course wall be _ followed. So far as Labor is concerned, it is , futile for any candidate to attempt to capture votes by the announcement, that he stands for Labor without having first 1 obtained the endorsement of the organisa- I tion in his district. In Wellington I notice with." regret that the Social Democratic party have refused to fall in with the decision of the local Labor Representation Committee to only contest certain Wellington seats, and avow their intention to run Mr H. Holland for Wellington North in opposition to the Hon. Mr Herdnian and the Liberal candidate. If the three candidates go to the poll, then the chance of the defeat of the Minister of Justice is a poor one indeed. I hope even now that better counsel will still prevail, and that Labor will bend all its energies to a complete defeat of the Reform party in December." I do not know that Labor candidates have been finally selected for the Auckland seats, except that Grey Lynn will be contested in the interests of Labor by the Hon. G. Fowld-s and evidently Mr C. H. Poole, a former member, will get the Labor vote for Auckland West.
In Wellington the Labor Representation Committee will contest three seats, and have issued a circular stating that the three nominated candidates are Messrs Hindmarsh, M'Laren, and F. T. Moore. The five main planks for which they stand are: Proportional representation, suppression of monopolies, reduction of the cost of living, just labor condition?, and sound National Defence.
In Wanganui Mr W. A. Veitch, the present member, will no doubt get both the Liberal and Labor vote. At Christchurch Mr Hiram Hunter states that there was. an understanding between the Liberal and Labor parties as to which seats Labor should contest, but that the local Liberals had nominated a candidate for Christchurch East against the wish of the Leader of the Opposition; but in at least two other Christchurch seats there are Labor candidates in the field atrainst two prominent Liberals, who at present hold the 6eats. This may improve the chances of the Reform candidates. The position in Dtincdin is as stated la6t week, with the addition that Mr W. D. Mason (Liberal candidate for the Chalmers peat) will receive tho support of the Labor Representation Committee. * ***** * PRO PORTI ON AL REPRESENTATION. It will bo noticed that Proportional Representation is a leading plank in all the Labor platforms. In this connection it is of interest to note what Mr Philip Snow den (Labor member for Blackburn in the British House of Commons) has to say. When addressing a well-attended meeting of members of the New Zealand Parliament, after referring to the defects of tho systems of election in vogue at Homo and in New Zealand, Mr Snowden said that the appearance of a third party in politics mad© it more and more important that a better system should be devised. At present the Liberal party and the Labor party were working with a more or less stable understanding, and an understanding of some sort was necessary for their mutual welfare under the present system. But in such an arrangement a third party striving for recognition in the political world would always get less than its due. The rivalry between the older parties was so keen, so bitter indeed, that progressive people who warmly sympathised with Labor hesitated to detach themselves from the Liberal party lest they should give the Tories an advantage by vote splitting. A system of Proportional Representation would get over this difficulty, since it would enable the.se people to give their votes to tho progressive party they preferred, without any fear of helping the party they wanted to keep out. To show that it was the third party who suffered most from tho defects of the present system of election, Mr Snowden quoted the case of the Labor party at Home, who polled enough votes at the last appeal to the constituencies to return over 100 members, but had only 40 representatives in the House of Commons. The mistakes on ono side might correct the mistakes on the other so far as tho older parties were concerned, but this would not happen with a third party trying to get the ear and the support of the public. Dealing with the objections that were urcced against Proportional Representation, Jit Snowden said it was ridiculous to imagine that the system would increase the difficulties of the elector. Experience had shown that informal ballot papers were less common with the single transferable vote than with the existing system of voting, and that mistakes were very few and very far between. The system was growing in favor wherever popular Government existed, and it ultimately would be the system employed by <*Ul progressive peoples. It was true it enhanced the importance of tho party and lessened the importance of the individual, but this meant the dominance of great principles and the subjection of personal whims. It had been suggested that the large constituencies would give an advantage to the rich man and the known man over the poor man and the unknown man. but the constituencies would be too large for any man to personally canvass, and the great bulk of the electors could not be bribed. Perhaps a greater obstacle to the adoption of the system was the difficulty or making the electors understand the system of counting tho vote*, but the electors' own part of tho business was simple enough, and there was no need for them to worry themselves further. Replying to a question, Mr Snowden said that one objection against Proportional Representation urged upon him since his arrival in New Zealand was that it would easure Mr Isitt's return i-t> Parliament, no matter what constituency he contested. He did not look upon this as fatal, but be regarded it as a great compliment to the gentleman's personality. Mr L. M. Isitfc appreciated the compliment, but could not bring himself to believe that the large constituencies would not be a serious disadvantage to the candidate with limited means drawing very near to local party politics. Mr J. A. Hanan asked what Mr Snowden would think of an Upper House elected by Proportional Representation and a Lower House elected by the " first-past-the-pest," system. Mr Snowden replied that he would think it entirely undemocratic, and would expect to see the Upper House claiming to be- more representative of the people and insistine; upon its right to override the other Chamber. Personally, he- did not favor the Upper 'House at all, but, if they were to have one, he preferred the present House of Lords, which, at least, had tho merit of realising that it existed onlv on sufferance, and that it could be abolished whenever the electors pleased. ******* LABOR AND THE WAR. The ' Nation,' a Dublin pap?r, says: "The manifesto issued by the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress is an event of greater moment and than the jpeaoe, of political
partiea in this crisis This committee represent the men and women who do the main part of the nation's work in times of peace, and bear tho greatest of its burdens in times of war; the army to whose patience,- industry, and fortitude the nation owes a debt that is rarely and dimly recognised for the great triumphs that* have given to it its commanding place in the life of the world. They have addressed the nation, and, speaking with this paramount authority, they have said that the cause for which we have to endure pain and poverty and danger is the cause of freedom and the cause of democracy. Of no war in which Britain has taken part since trades unions were reborn could or wotdd, the trade unions of this country have made such a declaration. The trades unionists do not say this alone. They call for a democratic conception of defence. They see that the nation must defend itself, not by some law of compulsion, not by the pressure of employers and the rich, but by the spontaneous ardor and spirit of working men, summoned by working men, determined to show that the honor of their country is safe in their hands, and to give no ground to those who wish to impose tho drastic discipline that other nations in far different circumstances have to adopt. Lastly, the democracy of Britain, speaking through these men and women, demands that the soldiers and the sailors and their families shall not, as in the past, bo thrown on one side when the nation's battles have been wpn. Let the Government ' make an immediate and generous response. The democracy is going to prosecute the war. The Prime Minister ought to announce at once that the fate and the future of the working men who risk their lives for their country aro as much the concern of the nation as the fate and the future of the great generals who, almost alone of the nations combatants, hava received any recognition in tho past. The workmen who enlist must nob lie left to the mercy of employers or to the play of forces. The nation must make itself responsible for them." As a residt vi tho appeal of the Parliamentary Committer over 100,000 unionists have joined the forces. Mr Frank Henty, writing in the 'Labor Call,' Melbourne, saj-s: " Now that war is raging, the 'lnternationalist Socialist' is having the tim-s of its bellowing life. Very clearly the 'Socialist' demonstrates that all men are brothers, Germans and Japanese and kanaka half-castes included, and that if the workers of the world would but unite there would be no need for Australia or England to spend money on armaments. Also, the 'Socialist' indicates with pitiless exactitudo its opinion of those Australian Laborites who are prepared to shout for their own side in the international contest. In short, the icKi of the 'Socialist' seems to be something like tliis j If every Melbourne woiker were as well organised as every Sydnev woiker, and every Kobe toiler and Honolulu coolie as powerful an industrial force as Melbourne and Koba workers should be. and the English wage-earner and tho New York hod-carrier equally efficient in holding the balance for Justice, and the German Social-Democrats were in a majority in the Reichstag—in such a case it would be possible for the workers of the world to say 'Stop tin's war!' Wherefore, workers should make a good start at the wrong end, and though not vet organised in the manner indicated should act as though they were. . . . What a lovely time the English, French, Russian, and Australian workers would have in such a case; and how nobly the hiah-minded Uhlan would shako up the rest of the world until its bones rattled! . . . This is not Socialism. It isn't common sense, and Socialism is simply essential common serse."
******* NOTES. It is commonly reported that Mr R. Semple has resigned his position as organiser for the New Zealand Federation of Labor, and will shortly leave for Australia. * * * Referring to tlie anxiety general among workers arising out of tho war the Queensland ' Education _ Journal' fa v S :—" Not the least serious is the fear of* uncmplovment among tho workers of the State. " From this particular fear teachers at any rate are quite free. Over employment is more likely to be their special trouble. So many male teachers have already been called out, or have volunteered "for military service, that it is hardly possible for tho department to keep all its schools adequately staffed." * * * The half-yearly report of the Wellington Grocers' Union / shows for the six months ended on September 30 an increase ot 22 members, with a cash balance of £9O. * * * Serious comrjlaint is being made of th* delays of the Arbitration Court. Tho Court was to sit in Auckland in April, then July, and then September, but owing to the president being appointed chairman of the Foods Commission the Court could not sit. Formerly the Judge used to Jiavo to take his turn on the Supremo Court circuit; this was obviated by appointing an extra Judge. The delays and disappointments are aggravating, especially in compensation cases, of which there miist bo a large number in Auckland. * * * The October report of the carpenters and joiners shows a membership of 4,642 for New Zealand, of whom 196 are out of employment, the bulk being at Auckland. In Australia tho membership is 7,715, 182 being out of employment. A conference of delegates from all over New Zealand is to be hold in January next at Wellington. A request by the society to Mr Massey to have all workers' dwellings built by day labor by the unemployed was not considered feasible by that gentleman. * * * " Optimist," writer of Labor Notes in the Wellington ' Post,' says : Whatever may be the case in other centres, it can bo written that in Wellington tho ''Red Feds." are down and out. As a factor in Labor politics they have ceased to exist; one or two hero*may figure among the " also started" at tho forthcoming elections, but they will not have the weight of Labor behind them. On October 14, at the Trades Hall, 36 organisations were represented, including tho United Labor party and tho Social Democratic: party, and every motion brought forward by the Social Democrats was beaten by substantial majorities, in one case by 25, and in tho other by 22 votes. Strenuous efforts woro made 'by Messrs Semple, Hickey, and Holland to get the candidates selected by ballot or by n mass meeting, but they were turned down, as above. It augurs well for tho future of the Labor movement in this city that the movement initiated by the Social Democrats for a conference has resulted in a straightout win for the evolutionists. * * * President Gindelc, of the Chicago Building Employers' Association, declared before the Federal Commission on Industrial Relations :" Collective, bargaining is much more simple and satisfactory than dealing with individuals. Disputes between workers and employers can be adjusted more quickly and the public benefited. On the whole I know of no better system for maintaining industrial peace than the one we have in the building trades of Chicago. I believe if every organisation of employers in the country had such an agreement with organisations of employees there would be fewer labor troubles." Mr Gindele also stated that all fair-minded employers are coming to realise that shorter hours mean more efficiency and better results.
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THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Evening Star, Issue 15656, 21 November 1914
THE LABOR MOVEMENT Evening Star, Issue 15656, 21 November 1914
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