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IMPERIAL PARLIAMENT,

GLISTELLAIKMS

ACTION FOR LIBEL.-DAMAGES…

FAULTS ON BOTH SIDES.

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FAULTS ON BOTH SIDES. A meeting, the result of which will, in all probability, be of much importance to the future conduct of the build- ing trades, was held in the Town-hall, Birmingham, on Friday night; the Mayor (Mr. Henry Wiggin) pre- sided. I he object was to elect delegates to attend a conference for drawing up rules for the future govern- ment of tbe trade. I here was a numerous attendance of both masters and men from each of the different branches. The Mayor, in the course of a very temperate and judicious speech, amongst other remarks, said-âI need hardly say I have very gladly accepted your invitation to preside over this meeting, and I am sure nothing will give me more pleasure during my year of office than to be the means, however humble, of bring- ing about a right feeling and a better understanding between employer and employed. It is not my inten- tion to go through the history of the disputes which have arisen in the building trades during the last two years you know them much better than I do. But from what I do know I am bound to say that I think there have been faults on both sides. On some points the masters have been in the wrong, and on other points the workmen have been in the wrong but you have now taken, I believe, the right way to settle the dispute, and the only way, to my mind, in which it can be settledâthat is, by friendly conference and mutual concession. Both sides must make up their minds to concede something in order to come to a satisfactory and lasting agreement, and this mutual concession must be attended with a determination for the future honestly to keep faith with each other, and to respect each other's rights, privileges, and feelings. Let it never be forgotten, both by masters and men, that neither of you can act alone. Your in. terests are so bound up together that if one butters the other must suffer also. It is the duty of masters to treat their men with justice and consideration, and it is the duty of men to regard their masters interests as their own. It is almost impossible>for me to avoid some reference of the question woicttP-has been upper- most in this disputeâthe question of strikes and I ask that you will give me a calm and patient hearing while I state to you my opinion. I hold that every man, either singly or in combination, has a right to ask for his labour the very highest price he can pos- sibly obtain; and 1 hold, also, that if the necessity arises, he is perfectly justified in ceasing to work until he can sell his labour at what he considers a fair and proper price. But while I thus clearly hold the right of the workman to get the best, price for his labour he possibly can, I hold, with quite as much clearness, that he has no right whatever to hin- der or prevent any other workman from selling his labour at a lower rate if he chooses to do so. While trade unions may be perfectly lawful and just in prin- jiple, you have no right by threats' or intimidation to jompel any man to join them, or to impose their rules upon men who do not choose to join them. On this point I will read to you the words of a great friend of the working-classes and a great friend of liberty, Mr. John Stuart Mill. He declares that trades' unions are both permissible and useful, but he also says that 44 among many trades' unions it is among the rules that there shall be no task work, or no difference of pay between the most expert workmen and the most unskilful; or that no member of the union shall earn more than a certain sum per week, in order that there may be more employment for the rest." These rules, he says, are most harmful to the men themselves, as well as to their masters and the public, and then he adds:â44 Hardly anything worse can be said of the worst laws on the subject of property and industry than that they place the energetic and the idle, the skilful and the incompetent, on a level, and this it is the avowed object of the regulations of these unions to do. Every society which exacts from its members obedience to rules of this description, and endeavours to enforce compliance with them on the part of em- ployers, by refusal to work, is a public nuisance." Having said so much to the men, permit me now to say a word to the masters. I still hold that, like the men, they have a perfect right to combine for their own protection against unreasonable and unj ust demands; but I am strongly of opinion they were decidedly wrong in imposing the discharge-note upon their men; the effect of which, had it been introduced, would have been to prevent all future com- binati ns of the men,-a right which I hold they are perfectly justified in exercising so long as they do not interfere with other persons who have no desire to join a combination. However, this is now at an end. Finding the public were against them. the masters frankly and honourably withdrew the discharge-note, and both masters and men have come to that wise conclusion of trying to settle their disputes by friendly conference. This resolution has received the approval or every true friend on both sides, and I have now only to ask you, in giving effect to it, to do so with good temper, with mutual forbearance, and with a firm determination to come to a lasting settlement of the points at is-ue between you. The meeting having decided by an immense majority that it is desirable for the future to settle all disputes between masters and men by arbitration, The Mayor said that this great principle having been adopted, it would be necessary to appoint the delegates, which would be done in this wise each branch of the men would decide what number of delegates they would appoint, and having named them, the men belonging to each class in the meeting would decide as to the desirability of their appointment. The masters would then nominate from their body an equal number. This plan was adopted, and delegates were selected from among both masters and men by the carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, and labourers, and it was resolved: That the employers and the operatives severally agree to conform to and carry out all rules which shall be agreed upon by (he delegates or decided by the casting vote of the ctiaiiman or. umpire. Mr. Dwid Murray (Branson and Murray) moved a vote of thanks to the Mayor. The Mayor, in responding, said he believed that the present movement was the commencement of a new era in the relation between master and man, and the final blow to strikes in this country. He hoped the time was now come when all trade disputes would be settled in a more rational and sensible manner than heretofore. The present meeting was a great credit to all parties, and presented the only means of satis- factorily settling the difficulties that might occur.

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