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The Joint Industrial Conference.I

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The Joint Industrial Conference. I WILL IT FAIL? I Whether deliberately or unconsciously, the Government is pursuing a policy that can only end in the disruption of the Joint Industrial Conference. The conference was called into being by the Government itself, in February. It was composed of employers and trade unionists1 who came together with the desire to find remedies for the in- dustrial unrest. Together they hammered out a series of proposals which they unani- mously urged the Government to put into immediate effect, including the legal enact- ment of a universal eight-hour day, univer- sal minimum time rates of wages, measures for the prevention of unemployment, and the creation of a permanent Joint Council, representing employers and trade unionists in equal numbers, to advise the Government upon industrial problems. These proposals, had they been frankly accepted by the Government, would have gone far to establish better relations be- tween employers and workpeople. But the Government has displayed extraordinary reluctance in dealing with the scheme. It produced two Bills, one relating to the hours question and the other to the mini- mum wage. From the Hours Bill they have insisted in excluding four classes of workers—the agricultural labourers, the seamen, the police, and the workers occu- pying positions of confidence and responsi- bility, including those engaged in manage- ment. Both the employers and trade union- its representatives have tried without suc- cess to get the Government to reconsider its decision. But at a meeting between the trade union side and the Minister of Labour last week the latter stated definitely that the Government would not consent to include these classes of workers in the Hours Bill. The Trade Union side has accordingly de- cided to ask the employers to agree to a full conference being summoned with p view to submitting the whole issue to their constituent bodies and inviting fresh in. structions. Responsibility for the failure of the conference rests with the Government, and it will be all the greater because a very large number of trade unions had intimated their readiness to join the Council if it were passed.

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