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Evening Star, Issue 15664, 1 December 1914
The principle of arbitration as a judicial moans of settling, or at least adjusting, industrial disputes is now accepted by the majority of employers and workers in New Zealand. There is a minority of workers, it is true, who would still'depend on the guerrilla warfare of mots a century ago to secure their extreme aims, but their methods are condemned by law-abiding communities. And perhaps there are a few employers who would not regret a return to lees judicial methods of bargaining with employees, but they too will not receive support from organised unions of employers, who have proved the value of arranging industx al terms with "their workers by peaceable negotiations. The only good result of the wateis de workers’ strike last year was the fact that the upheaval and the crippling restraint of trade end industry compelled all employers, especially those who were rather shy oi Conciliation and Arbitration, to scrutinise more closely the advantages of legal machinery for tiro adjustment of Industrial disputes. Industrial a! bit ration is now more firmly established than over in New Zealand, and all that is required is legislation—well considered and cautious rather than ’rash—to perfect the constitution oi the Arbiration Court, and broaden the conciliatory methods adjustment before a final appeal to the Court. An attempt was made by the Government last year to strengthen the law with a view to the prevention of impulsive strikes, but the proposals did not receive the calm and deliberate consideration they should haw got. Attention was concentrated on the strike, and the Opposition were not in the mood to a sist in the construction of wise industrial legislation. So there was not the comprehensive and effective improvements many people had expected. The quest on of improving the constitution of the Arbitration Court has yet to be considered, and there is no immediate prospect of any alteration. Political parties are more concerned in bespattering each other with political mud. The time is opportune for giving serious consideration to the question, which affects the stability and effectiveness of the Arbitration Court. The constitution at present is, apart from the judicial head of the Court, frankly partisan in character, each party to any industrial dispute having a keen advocate on the Bench. Tills represents a sort of justice, no doubt, but it would seem to bo crude in principle and unsatisfactory in practice. Many people who have closely studied the operations of the Court have noted with regret that its lay members did not hesitate to employ their energy in open advocacy of the particular inteicsts they represented as members of the Court. It would be unfair to suggest that active sympathy with industrial interests outside of their duties as members of a Court established for the purpose of exercising impartial judgment upon industrial disputes warped their judicial views, or prejudicially affected their verdicts. But it is plain truth to eay frankly that division of sympathy and energy certainly left each open to unfriendly consideration by respective parties who took their di.-putes to the Court. It would make for more confidence in the Court as a judicial body if the lay members were not accredited advocates of opposing interests. Employers’ associations have now an opportunity to assist in effecting a representation that would provide a purer confidence in working appellants—a remark that in no way affects the undoubted integrity of Mr W. Scott, who will retire on January 31 from his position as the employers’ representative in the Court. No one knows better than Mr Scott that in all negotiations between employers end employees, whether the negotiations bo conducted before an Arbitration Court or a Conciliation Commissioner, there is an “atmosphere” of suspicion. It is the duty of all who desire industrial peace and progress to remove rhat suspicion and to establish complete confidence in any legal method of adjusting disputes. As a matter of fact, many employers have always viewed with a lack of "favor the fact that their representative in the Court retained his secretarial relationship with the Otago Employers’ Association, and are now advocating the appointment of a representative who is not a trained advocate of the interests of the employing class We understand that Mr E. F. Duthie, of Dunedin, is to be nomi-
Employers and Arbitration.
rated for the position. Tho nomination is worthy of the general support of employers. ’ Mr Dutbic is a shrewd business man and a broad-minded citizen, who recognises that' tho only way to maintain industrial peace and to promote industrial and commerc ; al progress is to exercise fairness to employers and workers, but no more than fairness. It is true that he has not had the training in negotiations between employers and employees such ns was so effectively gained by Mr Scott, who was a skilful advocate, but perhaps lack of this particular training would be no serious disadvantage. To be a good judge it is not essential to have been a great advocate. We heartily commend the candidature oE Mr Duthie to the employers’ associations throughout tho Dominion.
Evening Star, Issue 15664, 1 December 1914
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