Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3
Wellington, 22 August, 1889
Since my last letter to you, a deputation from the Executive Council and Wellington Branch N.Z.T.A., and the Federated Trades' Council waited upon the Public Works Committee of our City Council, to draw their attention to the manner in which its printing was given out. It was complained that the work contained in the last tender was given to the lowest tenderers, which was a firm notorious for employing cheap labor—employing only one man—as an overseer—and about a dozen boys and turnovers. It was pointed out that the whole community suffered by the Council's supporting cheap labor, and the deputation claimed, as ratepayers, that their complaint should be listened to, and strongly urged the Committee to stop their system of encouraging low-tendering, and suggested the insertion of a clause in all future tenders to the effect that man-labor was to be the consideration. The deputation experienced strong opposition from the Mayor (Mr John Dnthie), who is well-known as a large employer of cheap labor—his business being a wholesale ironmonger and general storekeeper—and for some years he has kept an underpaid head storeman and a host of boys and youths. Mr Duthie objected to the plea put forth by the deputation on the ground that if the Committee granted the request of the printers, then all the other trades would likewise come upon them. After a good deal of discussion the deputation were informed that the matter would be considered by the Committee, for which they returned thanks and withdrew. In the course of a few days the secretary of the Trades' Council was informed that the Public Works Committee could not see its way to accept the suggestion of the deputation. I understand, however, that two or three of the councillors are in sympathy with the objects of the deputation, and they will keep the matter in view. Mr Muir, who was at one time a proprietor of the New Zealander (N.Z. Times) a good Union comp, is one of our City Councillors, and he will bear the matter in mind next time any printing comes before the Council.
News reached here the other day of the death of Mr G. M. Jermy, who died of typhoid fever, in Melbourne, at the age of 22 years. He served his time, I believe, on the Rangitikei Advocate, at the termination of which he obtained a frame in the Government Printing Office, working in the piece-, and afterwards in the time-room. About twelve months ago he went to Australia, settling down in Melbourne as a frameholder on the Argus. When the Standard was ushered into the light of « Marvellous Melbourne, » Mr Jermy obtained one of its frames, of which he was a holder when the fever struck him down. He was a steady young comp, and was well respected. At the general meeting of the Branch, last Saturday, on the motion of the President, a vote of condolence to his bereaved mother was carried, a copy of which was ordered to be sent to Mrs Jermy.
The bookbinders and rulers of Wellington, numbering 20 odd, have formed a society, to be called the New Zealand Bookbinders' and Paper-rulers' Trade Society. The first general meeting was held on the 19th inst., when the following officers were elected: President, Mr W. Franklin; Treasurer, Mr W. Jall; Secretary, Mr F. Chinchen; (G. P. O.); Committee, Messrs Green, Hare, and Vear. There has been a movement in this direction going on throughout the colony for some time past. Christchurch has just organized, and Dunedin and Auckland are on the rail.
The urgent necessity of constructing a fire-proof building to accommodate the Parliamentary Library is recognized by the Government, and they are now considering the question of ways and means—whether it would not be possible to place a sum of money on the Supplementary Estimates for the purpose.
The Evening Press quoted your article on free postage, and added their own opinion—backing you up.
The 16th half-yearly meeting of the Wellington Branch of the N. Z. Typographical Association, was held at Queen's Chambers, Grey Street, on Saturday, 17th August, 1889, at 8 p.m. The following are interesting items from the report:—The Board of Management have to record a slight improvement in trade outside the session-work, the latter keeping a considerable number of men fairly well employed. Your Board wish to specially note the fact that much greater interest has been displayed by members of the Society in general, to accomplish the objects for which it was established. In this connexion it is pleasing to state that, notwithstanding the unpopularity of the Brisbane strike, nearly everyone has paid the levy of 4s. Your Board have paid considerable attention to the question of boy-labor, but this matter will require the special attention of members as a body, with a view to making a strong stand against the existing evil. Little, however, can be accomplished in this direction until the Society is placed in a much better financial position; and your special attention is directed to this matter, which will be brought before you in due form. Re the question of apprentices in the Government Printing Office. A deputation from the Trades and Labor Council waited on the Colonial Secretary with regard to this matter, and the reply of that gentleman was to the effect that the Government Printer was instructed to recognize the rules of the Association in future. During the past half-year your Board have fully discussed the question of « fair » and « unfair » offices, and the best means to be adopted to bring about a more satisfactory state of affairs. With this end in view, nine offices which were considered « unfair, » were recommended to be closed, the names of which were duly forwarded to the Executive Council, who have further referred the matter to the Australasian Typographical Union; but so far the result is not known. A deputation from your Board, in conjunction with one from the Executive and Trades Council, waited on the City Council, to ask that body to consider the advisability of giving their printing to offices which employed men in preference to those employing boys, or, in other words, to encourage a fair system of labor. The result of that interview was to the effect that the Conncil would keep the matter steadily in view. The following resolution, passed at a meeting of the Board on the 7th March, is inserted for the information of members:— « That any member leaving one office to go to another should notify the same to the secretary of the Branch within forty-eight hours; and that any member entitled to out-of-work allowance shall call on the secretary every Monday. » Two compositors who sought admission to the Society were fined £2 each for not joining the Society before the end of last year, both of whom consented to pay the amount by instalments. Eight new members joined the Society during the last half-year, three of whom were apprentices in their last year. The number of members on the roll is 96, as against 80 at the last half-yearly meeting. There are also six honorary members. In many cases the arrears have been considerably reduced, but in one or two cases they have slightly increased. The amount outstanding is £8 7s 6d, as against £14 18s at the end of the last half-year. Two members have been struck off the roll, owing over £3; but taking this into account, the arrears have been reduced by quite £3 during the half-year. A hearty vote of thanks is due to the various Collectors, as a slight recognition of their services, for the manner in which they have carried out their duties, and which are not at all times of the most agreeable character.—At half past ten the meeting was adjourned until that night fortnight, to consider Mr McGirr's notice of motion:— « Whereas the N.Z.T.A. has been found an expensive and unsatisfactory system of administering the affairs of the Branches, and it is advisable that the Branches of the N.Z.T.A. should undertake the management of their own affairs, as heretofore:—Resolved,—1. That in the opinion of this meeting the N.Z.T.A. should be abolished. 2. That all funds in the hands of the officers of the N.Z.T.A. should be distributed pro rata amongst the Branches. 3. That the Executive Council of the N.Z.T.A. be requested to give effect to the above resolutions, also the new rules of the Australian Typographical Union. »
The Report of Delegates to Trades Council reads as follows:—To the President and Board. Gentlemen.—In presenting this our First Annual Report of our connexion with the above body, we have much pleasure in reporting that the Council has proved itself of use to your Society, and also to other affiliated societies. By its missionary efforts the Council has succeeded in forming into organized societies craftsmen who were each going their own way—such as the painters, plumbers, gasfitters, tinsmiths, and ironworkers' laborers. The bodies thus formed are affiliating themselves with the Council. The Societies at present forming the Council are—the Seamen's Union, the Ironworkers', the Shipwrights', the Painters', the Plumbers', Gasfitters', and Tinsmiths', the Tailors', and Typographical Societies. Your delegates have the honor of holding office in the Council—Mr Fisher as President, and Mr Mills as Treasurer. The Council some months ago was asked by the Bootmakers' Society to arbitrate for it in its trouble with Mr Hannah, and was successful in its mediation. We are also pleased to be able to say that the Council has been of some use to the Society which we represent. We refer to the apprentice question in the Government Printing Office, and not only was the Council the means in this case of settling the grievance, but an order was given by the Colonial Secretary to the Government Printer to recognize the rules of the N.Z.T.A. The Council will shortly issue the « fair » list of employers, which it was requested by your Board to prepare. In a recent interview which took place between the Council and a member of our Parliament, this gentleman made the remark that the Council was considered to be the first in page 87importance among the Trade Unions of New Zealand. In conclusion we feel justified in saying that the progress of the year has been of the most satisfactory and encouraging character, and augurs well for the usefulness in the future of the Federated Trades Council.—D. P. Fisher, Tom L. Mills, Delegates. A hearty vote of thanks and confidence was passed to the delegates, and they were requested to continue as the Society's representatives on the Council. In the election of officers, Mr W. McGirr was enthusiastically re-elected President; Vice-President, Mr Joslin; Secretary, Mr D. P. Fisher; Trustees, Messrs Vaughan and Henricks; Board Members, Messrs Mills and Webb.