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HINTS TO WORKING MEN. Ths Timea bM the following excellent leader on the ter- mination 01 the recent disputes in the building trade :â The announcement that the disputes in the Build- ing Trades are about to yield to a system of arbitra- tion will be received with a mixture of congratulation and misgiving. It is almost too good to be true. Both masters and men have to sacrifice a good deal in liberty as well as in pride when they agree to be bound by a standing reference to appointed umpires. The disputes themselves are difficult, and it is not very easy to find persons with sufficient sympathy for both sides, besides the requisite intelligence and largeness of mind. Both sides feel that they have everything at stake for capital ia everything to one side, and labour everything to the othtr and i& seems rather perilous to commit thi;;¡ a11" to the arbitration of a third personâ a spectator, even a comparative stranger. Upon the first supposition of the case, a man is fighting his own battle, atd "holding his own" against the whole world and the mood naturally engendered by such a struggle is most sensitive of interference, and most, jealous of compromise. Theprorosal has some spe. cial difficulties, and it is hard to say on which side they are the greater. That which presents itself foremost as all but insurmountable, is the circumstance that if it succeeds it must supersede that numerous, clever, and indefatigable class of men who trade upon these quar- rel*, and whose occupations are gone if masters and men come to a good understanding. What is to be- come of "secretaries," "wardens and vice wardens" of lodges, or whatever else they are called and the public-houses where meetings are held and funds collected, if there is nothing to fight about? Our nrsgivmg on this point is not diminished by the feel- iug that these men, with all their mischevious asfcump- tion and nugrant selfishness, after all, represent some of the nobler aspirations of the most numerous classes. The working man wants to feel himself to some extent his own master. He feels the incessant oemand upon his time, the regular con. sumption of his strength, his growing inability to improve or even be what he has been, and the oppres- sive thought 'â hat all his days have been given to monotonous toil. He sees others rise over his head, and others at least enjoy themselves. He takes the readiest means to forget his brooding thoughts, and indulge in a dream of independence, but only, he thinks, forwent of a more real and permanent self. elevation; and whenever be returns to hardworking tifeit istoteei himself once more a slave. Such is the habitual inner rebellion of a large proportion of working men, in all trades and pursuits, against the law ot lite to which circumstances have brought them. To such men it is very tempting to hear of an organiz- ation which makes them masters as well as men âtheir own masters, in fact; makers of their own rules of employment direct fliarers in the general improvement and aggregate profit of the trade; and able to fight a battle, of self-defence against in- truders, upstarts, and supplanters-able, indeed, to maintain a sort of monopoly. This is the Union system, with its bright as well as its dark side. We must warn the working men that it is vain to agree to a system of arbitration, unless they are pre- pared to hear some unpleasant truths. No system can stand except on the foundation of truthâat least, it can only do harm aU around if it stands upon fallacies and inventions. We will go to the point. A con- tractor gets his work d-ine as cheaply as possible, and as labour is the chief item in the cost, be and his under-contractors do all they can to economise labour. They get machines to do the work of men, they adopt plans and arrangements by which one man does the work of two, a boy the work of a man, a labourer the work of a skilled artisan, an artisan the work of an artist or of an engineer. These devices and instruments have increased vastly of late years, and have reduced very considerably the cost of building operations. A bridge, a tunnel, a sewer, an embank- ment, aud even an ordinary house costs leas than it did 50 years ago, even taking out of the comparison the taxes since repealed. The result is that more work is done, profits are larger and more certain and. above all, wages are much higher, taking all things into account. But there is a feature of this change which we speciallycommend to the working men of the building trades. Every substitution of a machine or improved tool for labour puts the employer under an additional necessity to go on doing something or other, and that more and more. He has an immense and costly plant and stock in trade. If it is idle it is spoiling, and he also loses the interest of the money in- vested in it and the wages of his staff. So he puts in the lowest tender he can for a great work he takes care to have houses he can be going on with should he have nothing else to do and. even if the time be ever so slack, he is building and tinishing houses, though there are houses to let" or to be sold all around. If he was simply the employer of a hundred men he could dismiss them when he had nothing for them to do; but be cannot dismiss his immense workshops, where he does his woodwork by machinery, his steam engines, his travelling cranes, his pile drivers, his steam air pumps for sinking caissons, his movable rails and waggons, hi-t fine moulding and carving tools, his patents bought or rented, his stock of material. Such a concern becomes itself one great machine, which must go on whether wanted or not. It is like a railway com- pany, which- must run its trains whether passengers come or not. Working men must see, or at least ought to see, that every expedient for saving labour insures its regular employ, and really places the em- ployer more at their command. We repeat, the machine âthat is, the contractorâmust go on, slack time as well as busy, winter as well as summer, short days as well as long, in the bard frost if possible making as many hours a day as human labour is equal to. If the older working men who are able to compare times past and present would only do so, they would find that the economy of labour does really increase work, and sup- ply it more regularly. How is it that immense bodies of workmen can "strike," and even hope to bring their employers to their own terms ? It is because those employers have so much money invested in devices for economizing labour that they are suffering continual loss while they stand stilL Since the greater part of the complaints are against the economy of labour, and so far against the interest of all sides, not t» say against sense and justice, we fear the Arbitrators will have to make many de- cisions that cannot fail to be unpopular with the '⢠TJuicn" authorities. On the otber, we do not see how any Arbitrators, invested with a sort of public responsibility, should give into some of the demands made by the Unionists. We do not see how a respectable and self-respecting man can decide that a man is to be condemned for life to remain in the class of labourers if he can do a mason's work, or that a young man is not to be allowed the same class of work and the same wages as an older man, or that a man shall only work so many hours at such an employment, and at such wages, if he wishes to work longer and can do better work, and can thereby earn better wages or that any class + £ W0I"king men may insist on using methods that only serve to obtain more wages for less work done or that none shall be admitted to work without the permission of a Union or that every man ahau subscribe for the future contingency of a quarrel wIth his employer. We are at a loss to see bow any- body bearing the almost saered name of Arbitrator, and representing truth without faction, interest, or prejudice, could do otherwise than condemn su-h ^V-ODa- r Bu,t ^av'nP said thus much as to the if oil rui s an arbitration we must again wi-h ^° â s^cce8?- The employers in these trades J ri<f suPerior class of men compared with their pre- Bo^nnrfV1f:Tv.yeariS agi\ Jt is due to their higher not onln f they should do all that lies in their power, mightv C*P*tj disputes, but to prevent the **JriZ Sfi, er industry we have described from °n I human agencies. It U not toouhu^rriifr much or too long, too early, too late, Jack a oku i 1D>F-Â¥'t work and no play makes sullen man. is ,a'so aPt to make him a very can or ought to ^P?a8i°nal spurt of overwork nobody .desire to see his to but no Englishman can .thanslaves. Fleshn. harder worked well as capital, being factY? ave their fair claims as A compromise must be hit sonf^, the poor man. once fairly made, the umpiresw^j1^ attempt teachfers of a new social law, as well as themselves working men will find they have to react, *6^ ,le â¢think* instead of taking the watchwora^ â¢Â° mittees-and paid secretaries.' That itself wil^eT 1 improvement on the unthinking and gregarious ice ox..the existing UnionSj which simply follow thb. muititu.de to do evil. |




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