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Two cases under the Employment of Females Act were heard beforo Messrs G. E. Eliott and W. Isaac, J.P.s, at the Police Court, yesterday. The cases were as follow:—

Andrew Thomson, of the firm of Thomson, Strang, and Co., was charged witha breach of section 4of " The Employment of Females Act, 1573," by having* Amelia Alloo employed in his workroom at 2.37 p.m. on Saturday last.

Mr W. D. Stewart appeared for the defendant.

Sergeant-major Bevin deposed that on going to the defendant's workroom he found Miss Alloo working at a dress at 2.37 p.m. Miss Stewart, the forewoman, was present, superintending the work. The workroom should have been closed at 2 o'clock. He drew the young ladies' attention to the time, and one of them said that she thought it was only a little past 2 o'clock. He went to Mr Thomson and told him there was a young lady working after hours. Mr Thomson went to the workroom, and on returning said that witness' statement was correct, and asked him if he was going to do anything. Witness replied that he must report the circumstance to Mr Weldon.

Cross-examined : Mr Thomson always gives me every facility to go through the room," and so does everyone employing females iii the city. There is no impediment put in ruy way. I judged, from what MiThomson told me, that he had not been aware that the girl was in the room. He told me that there were Instructions that they should not remain after 2 o'clock.

Amelia Alloo deposed as follows : I am a dressmaker at Thomson, Strang, and Co.'s. I saw Sergeantmajor Bevin come in on"Saturday. I think the ser-geant-major said it was 20 minutes to 3 at the time. I was working at a dress. I have had orders from MiThomson not to remain after hours. I did not think' it was so late. I remained because Miss Stewart asked mo to do so.

Miss Stewart, forewoman at Thomson, Strang, and Co.'s, said: I was at the workroom on Saturday last, and recollect Sergeant-major Bevin coming in. Whin he came in Miss Alloo was working at a dress. To Mr Stewart: My instructions were to clear the room at 2 o'clock. I was tliere contrary to his instructions, and I do not think he knew I was there. We get no payment for remaining after hours. Miss Alloo remained to oblige me.

This closed the ease for the prosecution. Mr Stewart submitted that no case had been proved against the defendant." Tlie young ladies were in the workroom contrary to the instructions and without the knowledge of the defendant. This being a criminal case no agency would be presumed, and this would certainly be so where there was express evidence given that the action was contrary to his instructions. The matter simply arose from an oversight on the part of the girls. The defendant had been most scrupulous in having the necessary notice posted up, and every facility given to the sergeant-major to go through the room and see that the law was obeyed. There could be no emploj'ment without remuneration, and as the witness had been at work voluntarily, without the knowledge and contrary to the instructions of the defendant, he could not be held to have committed an offence.

The defendant was called, and stated that he always desired that the Act should be strictly obeyed, and had given positive orders on the subject. ; : Mr Weldon pointedout that if ; Jlr Stewart'3 contention was maintained the Act would become a dead letter.

The Bench said that there was no doubt the.Uw had been infringed ; but the case was not ono that should be-severely dealt with. Under the circumstances a merely nominal fine of 5s and costs would be inflicted.

Robert r.ochhead was charged with a breach of the same Act by employing Julia Dugardo at 5.30 p.m. on Saturday last, at a sewing-machine for work for the purpose of exhibition in his shop at George street.

Mr MacDermott, who appeared for the defendant, said that the facts would be admitted, as he' relied entirely upon the question of law, and would submit that the Act did not apply in this case.

Sergeant Deane deposed that on Saturday last he entered a rocin belonging to MrLochhead—a shop in George street—at 8.20 p.m., and found a young ladydoing fancy work with a sewing-machine. The defendant said the young lady was there asasaleswoman and was doin» fancy work for the purpose of exhibiting the machine. He had seen her previously doing the same kind of work.

Mr MacDermott said that the facts of the ease were admitted; the officer had spoken nothing but what was, absolutely true. He would say at once that his client had no desire to evade the law, and that he was giving the employment referred to under legal advice, the soundness of which he had no hesitation in saying would be sustained. The question was one that required considerable attention, and he had no doubt it would receive the necessary care from the Bench. There were two defences to the action. The first one was a question of the interpretation of the clause under which the information had b, en laid, and the second was that the llth clause of a subsequent Act exempted saleswomen, ln the first place no offence had been proved; it would be quite a mistake to suppose that the case made out would c >mo within the meaning of the Act. The defendant was an agent for the sale of Wertheim sewing-machines, and employed the young lady mentioned in the information to showpersons who might wish to become purchasers what kinds of work the machines would do. In order that the Act might not be improperly enforced the Legislature had wisely given a definition of the word "employ." It was stated that the word "employ" should apply "to any manual labour exercised by wa3* of trade or for the purpose of gain iv or incidental to the altering, repairing, or finishing, or otherwise adapting by way of trade, or for the'purpose of gain, or for sale of any article." Of course the object was to put down anything like factory labour. If it were otherwise a saleswoman would be prevented from illustrating the use of any machine. The whole question on trie' first 'defence was that the work was not done for the purpose of gain—when it was done it was; useless, except so far as it advertised tho machines. Articles were not manufactured for sale, but what was done was to exhibit the capabilities of the machines, and not to manipulate any article byway of ti-adc, or for the purpose of sale or gain. Julia Dugarde deposed: I am a saleswoman in Lochhead's shop. 1 sell machines, and on Saturday evenings I work at the machines. ldo not work in altering, repairing, or finishing any article, but simply to exhibit the machine. I show what it can do. The work is of no use afterwards, and is not sold. To Mr Weldon: Mr Lodihead sells the'machines, and I work at them. I only do work for the purpose of exhibiting the machines. .1 do work when there are no customers in the shop, but not for sale. When the sergeant came there were no customers to buy machines. I was exhibiting the machines, so as to obtain purchasers. The Bencli: You are trying to bring out that it is within the scope of " incidental." Mr MacDermott: It must-be "in idrntal" to the altering, repairing, &c. of some article. Mr Eliott: The Bench have a doubt about the ease coming within the meaning of the Act, and will give the defendant the. benefit ot the doubt. The case will be dismissed. . Mr MacDermott.said that if Mr Weldon desired to take the opinion of the Supreme Court on the point, he would be willing to a-sist him in any way.

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Bibliographic details

EMPLOYMENT OF FEMALES ACT., Otago Daily Times, Issue 5976, 6 April 1881

Word Count

EMPLOYMENT OF FEMALES ACT. Otago Daily Times, Issue 5976, 6 April 1881

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