NEW ZEALAND MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION.
The annual meeting of the New Zealand Manufacturers' Association was held in the Grand Hotel on Thursday evening. Tho preeident, Mr T. W. Kempthorne, was in the chair. The annual report, which is as follows, was read:— Tho report should have been submitted to you somewhat earlier, but It was thought desirable in thia tmtanco to alter the ante of the meeting. The past session of Parliament was comparatively uneventful, and called for no unuaual attention from our association. Tariff arrangements were not affected In bo far as the House was concerned, but the: Commissioner of Customs' decisions nro now becoming »o voluminous that it is difficult to determine the heading under which yon have to pasß entries, or to understand unaided by the depwtment how to correotly prepare them. The members of this association being amongst the largest importers fully realise the inconvenience arising from these deviations. Intercolonial Freetrade.—This question received considerable attention, and arrangements had all but been completed for a conference during the exhibition period, but from a cause which will be hereafter explained, a resolution was passed at a Bpeclal meeting held to abandon the project. Correspondence is regularly kept up with kindred Institutions, and our association continues to be the channel of communication between the Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers and the industrial associations of Hew Zealand. In Ohrlstchurch the movement for intercolonial freetrade has been taken np with more earnestness than in any other part of New Zealand, and the members of that association have given close attention to all matters pertiinlng to industrial pursuits during the past year. In so far as outward activity in our own fluid goei, we have been comparatively dormant during the past session, but it only requires any point of intereit to appear either on political or industrial matters to arouse thu activity within us, and to prove that it exists to pood purpose. The hou. treasurer, Mr Farquhar, after paying all llahlllt.les, has, fis usual, a satisfactory credit cish balance. Our lion, secretary, Mr Eunson, has been as indefatigahle as ever, and seems never to miss any opportunity to do his best for the association. The Chairman said: Before moving the adoption of tho report I will, with your permission, notice a few points of interest to our association since we generally discussed matters on the 13th of August 1889, the chief local event of attraction being the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, and where we had convincing proof of tho ability of our artisans to produce finished work qnite equal to the production of any other country for similar lines. It also served to confirm the impression formed by our members that industrial enterprise had made rapid strides in New Zealand dnring the last few years. We all know well enough that without active and intelligent industrial pursuits no country can be truly prosperous, and it is highly gratifying to farther know that our colony from the wealth of its raw products, natural resources, and climate, mast of necessity become, as population increases, a very hiva of industry. You will remember that at our last general meeting we discussed pretty fully the subject of intercolonial freetrade, with a customs union and uniform tariff for the Australasian colonies, and appointed a committee of onr association to interview a committee of the Chamber of Commerce, with the object of joining them in the conference which they proposed holding during the exhibition. We arranged the appointment and discussed the matter, informing the Chamber of Commerce committee that our association desired to invite representatives from all the manufacturing associations throughout the colony to join the conference, so as to widen its influence and usefulness. The Chamber of Commerce committee, however, appeared to think that as they had determined and announced a general conference of the chambers of commerce of Australasia at the exhibition in January, that this would be wide enough for their gathering, and suggested that it might be more advantageous for us to hold ours separately, unless we came in as members of the chambers of commerce. Our committee, however, did not see it in the same light, and thought it would be unwise to have two conferences at the same time, and this is the reason why your proposals were not carried out. There cannot, I think, be a donbt that if our proposals had been accepted, a much more successful gathering wonld have resulted, and that all matters pertaining to the import trade and local production would have been dismissed with more benefit to all concerned. I do not know whether your views may have at all changed in respect to intercolonial freetrade since we last met, and ■when, if I remember aright, the majority would have liked to have seen a larger market open to New Zealand, with full confidence in their ability to compete with our intercolonial friends, and that we should not locally suffer by the change, but that on the contrary each colony would be benefited, and thia being achieved would prove the first important step to colonial federation. The labour question has assumed va?t proportions Bicca our last annual meeting, and its equitable claim to its proper share of the wealth it creates is being proclaimed with mighty force all over the oivilised world. Personally lam rejoiced at the action, having long held that capital received more than its fair share of tho product of labonr. In these young countries the inequality is not so marked or intensified, and consequently we are in a much more favourable position to help to solve the problem. No doubt at the outset many grievous and serious mistakes will be made, but I think that it will be generally admitted that the leaders of the movement here have shown great ability, and I sincerely hope they will continue to progress and do their work in such an effective way that *h»y may always carry with them favourable public opinion, and that as each section falls in finality will be given to the negotiations, so that there shall be no retrogression, and that ultimately all will submit to a superior ceatral controlling power elected by the various branches to which internal dissensions or sectional disputes may go for final adjustment. I believe that when labour is reduced to a system of order,*under properly-constituted bodies, that disputes which now frequently harass capitalists will be adjusted with much more satisfaction and rapidity by tho labonr tribunals. It will rest with them to grade and classify and harmonise systematic working, Ido not share the opinion that capital is going to be driven away through trade unionism, or that the life of the capitalist is to be nothing but worry and disaster. The desire of the capitalist will change from the very influence of bis snrroundings, and this influence will not be merely local, but general and vast. We must overlook the fast that it is the educated democracies of the world that have commenced to ring these changes upon us, and let us hope it may all work ■ out by "peaceful negotiations; but come how it may, the advancement of labour must prove beneficial to the human race. I will now move the adoption of the report. Mr Bubt had much pleasure in seconding the adoption of the report, and thought that the fact of there having been no cause for friction during the year under review was a matter for -congratulation. He could heartily endorse the opinions expressed by the president in many of his remarks. As regards the matter of intercolonial freetrade, his views hud pot changed ; he was still ready to compete in the larger market. The recent exhibition had shown what onr artisans could do, and he thought they had nothing to fear in competition with the neighbouring colonies. The labour question was nndouhtedly the all-absorbing question of tba day. Trades unionism was like an epidemic; and, like all diseases, would have to run its regular course, and as thought and consideration was given to the matter no doubt tho tonics and cure would ba found, and so matters would be settled and regulated. So far as his experience went he had reason to look hopefully at the probable issues. The demands in connection with hig trade had so far been reasonable, all in the direction of ouder and the regulating of the relations of the engagements between employers and employed. Ke had confidence in the ultimate issues of these agitations so long aB the present officers directed the movements of the labour party. He was rejoiced to note the desire of the workmen to rise socially. As in the case of many present, he hsd himself risen from the bench ranks, and all would acknowledge that there were many obstacles in the way of men of energy and push rising, and hn. for one was at all times glad to assist deserving and skilful workmen. The president had well said that it w»b the educated democracy who were ringing ; the changes at present, and fo long as such continued to do so he was hopeful that it would be recognised as clearly in the interests of labour to make only fait and reasonable demands, and so avoid doing anything which might cripple industries or tend to drive work from our midsr. The wages question was a difficult one, inasmuch as it necessitated the establishing of different grades and rates; but he believed that when matters got settled somewhat, such would be arranged to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. Of course it was plainly understood that as wages increased the chances were that the prices of the various products would increase proportionately. He hoped that this association might yet be useful in some measure in creating harmony in connection with matters which might threaten to affect the manufacturing interests. .... , . Mr Grant P. Fajiquhab said the labour question was surrounded with difficulties bristling with perplexing problems, and the most far-seeing could not foretell how it would work ont There was no doubt about one thingmanufacturers and employers were siDcerely desirous of meeting the claims of workmen. They desired to Bee their position improved and wages increased, but it appeared to him that one c reat mistake was frequently made in viewing the position from the labour side, and that was the tendency to take for granted that large profits as a rule accrued to manufacturers or employers, and that it was simply a matter on their part of being satisfied to retain a little less or that the price charged the public could be increased proportionately. He thought that something might be effected in the shape of closer union on the part of manufacturers and employL, not to fight the other side, but so that questions as they arose coold be treated broadly aud reasonably, taken out of the hands of isolated individuals, and dealt with in a manner just to all It was quite impossible to attempt to deal even cursorily with this question at such nmeetine as this. The situation must be accepted, and they would, he was sure, all so endeavour to meet difficulties as they arose that results eventually would be satisfactory and beneficial ° Mr Mabk Sinclair had listened with pleasure to the report of the year, and congratulated the
chairman upon tho admirable manner in which hohad introduced the subjects under discussion, There was one phase of the labour question which occurred to him as worthy of note—viz., the fixing of a standard rate of wages by the labour organisations. Now he held very strongly that such action, if persisted in, was ill-advised. Possibly as time went on, and the labonr councils gained mote information, it would be seen to be hardly prudent to bind the hands of employers iv this respect. There were men who by their skill, push, and industry were deserving of; and readily obtained a high rate of wages for their labour, while on tho other hand there were men who failed to show themselves capable of earning so much, and he could foresee difficulty and positive hardship if it were insisted that an employer should employ inferior men at a rate of wageß out of proportion to their.work. If the labour organisations tended to instil into workmen the spirit of enterprise he should be one of the first to help forward their movements. It might be that by wisdom regulating their counsels that spirit would contribute to creating work within the colony, at anyrate it would be a pity if by any unreasonable demands trade was made stagnant, and it was found that instead of the many only the favoured, because deserving, highclass workmen could bo kept constantly employed. Mr B. Hallenstein said the Manufacturers' Association was more than any other body immediately interested in the labour agitation. He was inclined to take a favourable view of the ultimate outcome of unions. While the movement was in its infancy false steps wonld occaeioually bo taken both by employers and the employed, leading to irritation and anger. Probably a big strike—while it would create a good deal of misery and loss to both parties, and to the country at large by perhaps a permanent diversion of trade—would 1)e the most drastic lesson to teach us moderation and forbearance. But he hoped moderation and forbearance in the first iostance, and a desire on tho part of employers and capitalists to recognise that the cause for which the working classes are fighting is a just one, and an equal desire on the part of tho latter to be just and moderate and not unduly harass employers, would prevent a calamity such as he had referred to. At the present time it was well known that people were afraid to enter into any undertaking requiring labour; and he thought the sooner unions were established all over New Zealand on principles which recognised the rights both of employers and employed, the sooner confidence would be restored, leading to the expansion of our resources and to the further employment of labour. While he was of opinion that we were better without any industry in which we conld not afford to pay fair wages, at the same timo he thought unions would see that it was not to their interest to fix wages so high as to prevent the establishment of new industries, apd even to restrict the employment of labour iv existing ones. The aim should be rather to give employment to the masses at fair wages than to restrict it to a limited number at high wages. In his opinion all matters that could not be settled between the employers and the unions should be referred to councils of arbitration and conciliatiOD, properly and' fairly appointed by both sides. The very existence of such councils would prevent excesses and injustice on both sides. Mr John Mitchell held very strongly that so long as the employes were fairly and reasonably dealt with there was little danger of the employers being harassed. All intelligent employers would be prepared to accede to the demand for a fair rate of wage on the " live and lot live" principle. The employers who were straight and honest with their employes could usually obtain honest services and beard little of discontent or_grnmbling where such a course was followed. He would like to see more attention paid to the youth who were under training in the workshops, and thought it would be well if they conld be encouraged and inspired with an enthusiasm for their work, which might lead them to aim at obtaining the leading positions in their various trades. He had no sympathy with the grinding or sweating systems. He thought there was a danger of indulging in too much sentiment in dealing with snch questions as had been touched upon, and that the practical bearings and issues were apt to be overlooked. Be just to labour, then harmony and confidence will prevail. Were all animated by a desire to benefit each other no friction need arise, and class distinctions would disappear. Mr Charles Ziklk said one of tha objects of the unions, as he understood it, was to do away with overtime and so admit of more hands being engaged during regular working hours. He thought, however, that there would be obstacles in the way of this reform, that is some branches of industry whera the working of overtime becomes an absolute necessity would not admit of more hands being employed, because only a limited number was required at any time for the work, the nature of which may not admit of a fresh relay taking up the uofinished article or carrying the work to completion, so that such a course would in many cases not be economical, aud, therefore, inadvisable. However, he supposed that by degrees these matters would bu faced and settled satisfactorily to all parties. Objections, he understood, had already been taken by some trades to the employers engaging where it had been practicable a second shift, after the recognised day of eight hours at ordinary rate of wages, instead of continuing the one shift at extra rates for overtime. This seemed to him far from the professed object of unionism, and bore on the face of it selfishness, and would not certainly reduce the ranks of the unemployed. Many benefits could doubtless be conferred by unions upon their members, but they must not forget that they will not be void_ of burdens. His sympathy was on the whole with the union movement, and he had no doubt thab granted judicious management, much good would ultimately result both to employers and employed. Mr Spaehott said he had tried to keep up continued relays of work, but had not found it to suit very well. j Mr Alex, Thomson had listened with pleasure to the discussion, and also to the comprehensive remarks of the chairman in opening the meeting. In connection with the union question he would be glad if, as one of the effects, some arrangement could be made whereby an equalisation of prices at which the manufactured articles may be sold, could be effected. If in special branches of industry all are to work under the same conditions as to the rate of wages paid, &c, then there Bhould be no difficulty in bringing about the desired reform, and he felt sure that the results all round would be beneficial. Mr Kempthohme thanked the members who had 6poken for their expression of opinion. As to the matter of tha fixed minimum of wages, he thought that such a course was necessary at the outset of negotiation?, but believed that ultimately the representatives of these unions would classify the men and regulate the scales to suit the qualifications and capabilities of tho workers. Disputes arising would be easier settled by the labour tribunals than by companies or single firms, and this would save employers much trouble. In closing the discussion he would express the hope that, whenever organisation took place, its basis might be thorough, and that the laws of equity alone would prevail. Such being the case, then there would be slight danger of serious trouble, for thorough aud equitable organisation would not harass, and most certainly would not destroy, capital. After tho usual complimentary votes of thanks had been accorded to the retiring officebearers, the election of officers for the current year took place, and these following were duly elected, viz.:—President, Mr T. W. Kempthorne ; vice-presidents, Messrs R. S. Sparrow and Alexander Thomson; committee, Messrs Alexander Burt, John Mitchell, and Mark Sinclair; hon. treasurer, Mr Q. P. Fsrquhar; hon secretary, Mr D. R, Bunsou. A special vote of thanks to the chairman was accorded, and the meeting closed.
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NEW ZEALAND MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION., Otago Daily Times, Issue 8869, 29 July 1890
NEW ZEALAND MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION. Otago Daily Times, Issue 8869, 29 July 1890
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