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Even the employees of the
State have been striking, and successfully.

"The workers' position is embarrassing. The original act was passed for
their benefit as well as to prevent strikes, but when it could no longer
be used as a machine for raising wages, they were the first to rebel
against it." There can be no doubt that our authors are correct, and
that the working people are beginning to feel they have been trapped. In
both New Zealand and Australia they have given their approval to an act
which in actual practice may become more dangerous than any weapon that
has ever been forged against them. The only possible way they could gain
any advantage from it would be if they were able to elect the judge of
the Arbitration Court, but, to obtain a political majority for this
purpose, they would have to develop a broad social program which would
appeal to at least a part of the agriculturists as well as to the
working people, but here we turn to the considerations to be brought out
in the next chapter.

Mr. Charles Edward Russell, as the result of two visits to Australasia,
has very ably summed up the Socialist view of compulsory arbitration in
_The Coming Nation_, of which he is joint editor. Mr. Russell says:--


"The thing is a failure, greatly to the surprise of many capable
observers, and yet just such a result might have been expected from
the beginning, and for two perfectly obvious reasons, both of
which, strange to say, were universally overlooked.

"In the first place, the court was nominally composed of three
persons, and really of one. That one was the judge appointed by the
government.

"The representative of the employers voted every time for the
employers; the representative of the unions voted every time for
the unions; the judge alone decided, and might as well have
constituted the whole court.

"At first the judge decided most of the cases in favor of the
policy of increasing wages. Fine, again. Many wage scales ascended.

"But the judge, as a rule, did not like his job. He desired to get
to the Supreme Court as rapidly as possible; to the Supreme Court
where the honors were. A succession of judges went by. At last came
one that agreed with the employers that wages were too high for the
welfare of the country. This had long been a complaint of the
manufacturers in particular, who were fond of pointing out how high
wages discouraged the opening of new factories, and consequently
the development of the country. This judge, being of the same
opinion, apparently, began to decide the cases the other way.

"Then, of a sudden the second fatal defect in the system opened up.

"The men grew restless under the adverse decisions of the court.
That raised a new question.

"How are you going to compel men to work when they do not wish to
work under the conditions you provide?

"Nobody had thought of that."


Referring, then, to the failure to prevent the strike of the
slaughterers against the law in 1907, or to punish them after they had
forced their employers to terms, Mr. Russell gives the Socialist opinion
of the legislation of 1908, passed to remedy this situation:--


"At the next session of Parliament it amended the law to meet these
unexpected emergencies and find a way to compel men to work.

"To strike after a case had been referred to the court was now
made a crime, punishable by a fine, and if the fine were not paid,
the strikers' goods could be distrained and he could be imprisoned.
Any labor union that ordered a strike or allowed its members to
strike was made subject to a fine of $500. Outside persons or
organizations that aided or abetted a strike were made subject to
severe penalties.

"Fine, again. But suppose the labor unions should try to evade the
law by withdrawing from registry under the act? _Government thought
once more, and produced another amendment by which the penalties
for striking were extended to all trades engaged in supplying a
utility or a necessity, whether such trades were organized or not._

"You could hardly surpass this for ingenuity. 'Supplying a
necessity' would seem to cover about everything under the sun and
to make striking impossible. There must be no more strikes.

"Sounds like home, doesn't it? To do away with strikes. You see the
employing class, which all around the world gets what it wants and
controls every government, had put itself back of the arbitration
law. It had discovered that the law could be made to be a good
thing, so it was at the dictation of this class that the amendments
were passed. What the injunction judges do in America, or try to
do, the law was to do in New Zealand.

"Except that not Judge Goff nor Judge Guy, nor any other injunction
judge of our own happy clime, has dared to go quite so far as to
declare that all striking everywhere is a crime to be punished with
imprisonment.

"How are you going to compel men to work? Why, thus, said the
government of New Zealand. Put them in jail if they do not like the
terms of their employment."


Mr. Russell then gives an account of the miners' strike, above referred
to, which he points out was ended by the labor department paying the
miners' fines. He concludes:--


"Mr. Edward Tregear, a scholar and thinker, had filled for many
years the place of chief secretary for labor. It is not a cabinet
office, but comes next thereto. He is a wise person and a sincere
friend of the worker, as he has shown on many occasions. As soon as
he heard that the ministry actually purposed to imprison the miners
because they did not like the terms of their employment, he went to
the minister of labor and earnestly protested, protested with tears
in his eyes, as the minister himself subsequently testified,
begged, argued, and pleaded. No possible good could come from such
rigor, and almost certainly it would precipitate grave disaster.

"To all this the minister was obdurate. Then Mr. Tregear said that
he would resign; he would not retain his office and see men
imprisoned for exercising their inalienable right of choice,
whether they would or would not work under given conditions.

"Now Mr. Tregear was one of the most popular men in New Zealand,
and his resignation under such conditions would raise a storm that
no ministry would care to face. Hence the government was in a worse
situation than ever. On one side it fronted a dangerous venture
with the certainty of a tremendous handicap in the resignation of
the chief secretary, and on the other hand was an acknowledgment
that the arbitration law was a failure and could be violated with
impunity.

"In this emergency decision was halted for a few hours while the
government people consulted. Meantime, by quick and desperate
efforts, the strike was ended, and the men went back to work.

"This left the fines unpaid. The labor department solved that
difficulty and allowed the defeated government to make its escape
from a hopeless situation by paying the miners' fines.

"To all intents and purposes it was the end of compulsory
arbitration in New Zealand. Not nominally, for nominally the thing
goes on as before; but actually. It is only by breaking our shins
upon a fact that most of us ever learn anything; and the exalted
ministry of New Zealand had broken its shins aplenty on a fact that
might have been discerned from the start.

"If you are to have compulsory arbitration, you must compel one
side as much as the other.

"But in the existing system of society, when you come to compelling
the workers to accept arbitration's awards, you are doing nothing
in the world except to compel them to work, and, however the thing
may be disguised, compulsory work is chattel slavery, against which
the civilized world revolts.

"This is the way the thing works out, and the only way it ever can
work out. There can be no such thing as compulsory arbitration
without this ultimate situation.

"If, therefore, any one in America believes in such a plan for the
settlement of labor troubles, I invite the attention of such a one
to this plain record.

"For my own part, years ago I was wont to blame the labor leaders
of America because they steadfastly rejected compulsory
arbitration, and I now perceive them to have been perfectly right.
The thing is impossible."[75]


A somewhat similar act to the Australasian ones, though less stringent,
has been introduced in Canada. The Canadian law, which is a compromise
between compulsory arbitration and compulsory investigation, applies to
mines, railways, and other public utilities. Strikes have been
prevented, but let us see what benefits the employees have received.
Whatever its effect on wages and hours, the law has the tendency to
weaken the unions, which hitherto have been the only reliable means by
which employees were able to advance their condition. Not only does it
make organization seem less necessary, but it takes the most powerful
weapon of the union, the ability to call a sudden strike. If we add to
this the unfavorable influence on public opinion in case the unions are
not contented with the rewards, and the fact that the law works against
the union shop, which is the basis of some unions, we can understand the
ground of their hostility.

"The Canadian Labour Disputes Investigation Act" is especially
interesting and important because it is serving as a model for a
campaign to introduce legislation along similar lines into the United
States. Already Mr. Victor S. Clark, the author of the study of the
Australian Labour Movement, to which I have referred at the beginning of
the chapter, has been sent by Mr.



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Keywords: minister, nominally, opinion, referred, failure, because, beginning, miners', employees, people
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