THE LABOR MOVEMENT
(By Vk'ceean.] Brief contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement arc invited. DUXKDTX TRAMWAYS UXIOX. Some weeks ago the Auckland Anglican Diocesan Synod passed a resolution condemning the action of the above union in suing a member for not attending a meeting held on Sunday. The matter was fully explained in this column about three weeks ago. iAu Auckland minister (Rev. R. Inglis) attending the Presbyterian Assembly in Dunedin last week gave notice to move a similar resolution to the one passed by the Auckland Anglican Synod. A letter appeared in the ‘ Star ’ advising tho rev. gentleman to consult tho secretary of the union and get particulars of tho case before proceeding with his motion. Ho did not consult the secretary or any other official of the union, but proceeded with his motion—“ That the General Assembly, having had their attention called to a case in which the Dunedin Tramways Union had inflicted a fine upon one *of their members for absenting himself without apology from business meetings of the union hold on Sundays, such action having been subsequently declared legal in a court of law, express their strong protest against such action as a violation of the rights of conscience. The Assembly also express their regret that the Dunedin Tramways Union not only hold their business meetings on that day, but seek to coerce those members who conscientiously object into attending the same under pains and penalties.” Tho motion was carried, Mr Hutson dissenting. Members of the union have asked mo to point out the position from the union’s point of view. The proposer of the motion said that the “Sabbath Observance Committee approached several persons and bodies, and tho only reply received, was from tho Dunedin Ministers’ Association, who expressed their sympathy with tho man who had been penalised.” Xow, if the Rev. Mr Inglis had consulted tho officials of the union, as advised, ha would have found that tho sympathy of the Ministers’ Association was misplaced, as the union paid all Motorman Inglis’s expenses m connection with tho case. The Rev. R. L. Walker's remark that “they should throw- their whole w’eight against the penalising of any men who for conscientious reasons refused to attend meetings of unions on Sunday ” was equally wide of the marie. As a matter of fact the conscientious objection was not raised by the member concerned; ho questioned the legality of the .Sunday meeting only. It might bo pertinently asked when these rev. gentlemen from the North would suggest that tho Dunedin Trainways Union should hold their meetings, seeing that one-half of tho members go on duty between 6 and 7 in the morning, and tho other half go on from, 2 to 5 in thq afternoon and Imish between 11 and midnight every day in the week. On Sundays half of them are on duty from 1 p.m. until about 11 p.m. The rules of the union provide as follows i Rule 5i “Subject to the control of the union, the business of tho union shall be managed by a committee of 11, including president, two vice-presidents, secretary, and treasurer, to bo elected at the annual meeting of the union.” Titis committee meet at least oaco a month, on a week night, and caio has to be taken to see that the members selected are all on the one shift, otherwise they might not always have a quorum, which, is tixed at five. Rule 21: “The general meetings of the union shall bo held quarterly, half-yearly, and annually. The quarterly meetings shall ho held in the months of June and December. The annual meeting shall beheld in the month of March, and the halfyearly meeting in tho month of September. Any member absenting lumself from the March and September meetings without a sufficient apology in writing shall be fined one shilling.” It will bo seen that there aio only two meetings in tho year which it is compulsory to attend or send
an apology. it win dc admitted tnat meetings should bo so arranged that oil the members have a chance of attending when important business affecting their interests ia transacted. It will also bo seen that the only time when this can bo done is on Sunday, before 1 p.m., ox between midnight and 6 a.ra. on week days. The niles do not say the meetings shall bo held on Sundays. Tho members in meeting assembled can fix any convenient time they choose. The question has been under discussion many times, and no better time has yet been discovered. In tho course of tho discussion of this question by the Presbyterian Assembly the Rev. R. L. Wa : ker (Auckland) said there was a section of organised Labor which was distinctly anti-Christian. For the rev. gentleman’s information 1 would point out that this does not apply to the Tramways Union as a body. There are as many" good Christians and church-going men among them as in any equal number of men anywhere. Nor does it apply to tho workers generally. If it did, tho church congregations -would be much smaller than they are at p-esenl. Some of the tramway employees have fold mo that on Sundays tho trains are largely patronised by people going to and from church, and that during the meetings of tho Assembly they have noticed many of tho Presbyterian ministers taking advantage of tne trams on Sunday, thus helping to keep the tramway men at work on that day, which they consider is just as I>ad as their holding'business meetings on Sunday. ******* NOTES. “ Proportional representation ” b one of the latest fads the Fusionists have for securing seats for Therefore Mr Fisher’s answer to Mr Cook in tho Reps, was neat and pointed. The latter asked : Was it true the Government proposed to nominate three of their supporters to the Public Works Committee? Mr Fisher: That is so. Mr Cook: On what grounds? Mr Fisher: Proportional Representation. * * * We are often told that New Zealand employers cannot make any distinction as between unionists and non-unionists in their employ. Thus it is that, when a union is successful in squeezing an increase of pay or a reduction of working hours, or both, from the employers the non-union workers participate in the advantages gained along with those who have been instrumental in gaining them. In contradistinction to this policy the following extract is taken from the quarterly report for July, 1914, of the United Kingdom Society of Coach workers i —“Wo aro pleased to report that the Hull Committee nave been successful in obtaining a reduction of working hours from 65i to 53 per week by negotiating with the employers. One interesting feature in connection with this Is that one of the employers, whilst conceding the reduction of hours to our members, refused it to non-society men, so that there was the remarkable spectacle of society men working 53 hours and nonsociety men 55j hours in the same shop.” * * * The Commonwealth Statistician says that on August 31 more than one-tenth of the unionists of Australia were out of work as the result of the war. * * * Tho latest figures from tho office of the Commonwealth Statistician show that there were 85 industrial disputes, affecting 16,859 persons, in Australia during tile second quarter of this year. « « « The members of the Canterbury Teachers’ Institute are considerably exercised through the latest action of'the Education Department with regard to superannuation. For some time past it has been the practice of a unmbar of teachers in the ; service of the 'Education Board to supplement their salaries by working in the evenings at the Christchurch Technical School. Tho Education Department has issued instructions to the board to deduct the su- ; perannuation impost from these supplementary salaries, and also 3 per cent, compound interest by way of penalty. The :
teachers object to this treatment, as the work is only casual and does not count for the superannuation benefit. One teacher earned £37 9s by such casual work two years ago. and the board have now been invited by the department to collect from him £3 0-, 3d of the amount for superannuation. A similar demand is made upon the small salaries paid to swimming instructors. Seeing that casual work outside the ordinary routine does not count as service in estimating superannuation, the teachers consider that they arc being unduly harassed. * » * The Australian Railway Workers and General Laborers’ Association discussed the movement not to work alongside Germans. and approved a resolution deploring the introduction of racial antagonism in the ranks of unionism, which was nothing more nor less than organised inhumanity enacted under the guise of patriotism, and declaring that the workers of Australia had no quarrel with the workers of Germany or any other country, their quarrel being with the ruling classes.
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THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Evening Star, Issue 15662, 28 November 1914