BRISBANE, AUGUST 10, 1895.
Boot Trade Dispute.
The reason advanced by the boot manufactures why they reject arbitration was that the offer came to late. This, in the face of the offer being made by the men before being out a week, is a perversion of the truth.
The Co-operative boot shop opened on Saturday, and did a roaring trade. Crowds gathered round the window admiring what little stock was on view, and dozens had to go away and wait till this week. A £20 order was received from Townsville on Wednesday.
In the Sydney Morning Herald a few days ago appeared the following advertisement; “Wanted a partner for an old established Factory and Tannery, net profits for last year shown to be £2300.” Yet some employers declare the boot business will not pay good wages.
A six-year-old son of one of the bootmakers on strike is in the habit of wandering from home. After searching the town, the father went to the wharf, and there found young hopeful, who, on being asked what he was doing, said, “Looking for blacklegs, daddy.” They know where to look for him now.
Another concert and dance takes place at the Centennial Hall on Monday next; tickets 1s. for both concert and dance. The St. Crispin Minsterals will again perform. They are growing in popularity and give a very good entertainment. Country visitors will do well to visit the Co-operative boot store, 46 Queen street, during Exhibition week
C.C. Saunderson, winner of three long distance races at the late Bicycle Sports, is now working as a non-unionist at Alcock and Co's. His mates stood well to him in the boot strike. Sports, as a rule, are noted for straight going Barnes, who started in the cash prize event on the same day, is now a non-unionist at Rose's boot factory. He met with an unfavourable reception at the hands of the crowd.
Bushmen again to the front! At Tuesday morning's meeting of the strikers a letter was received announcing the receipt by the general secretary of the A.L.F. of £38 subscribed by different sheds
in aid of the Boot Strike Relief Fund. This, with the announcement of the ballot, put fresh life into the men. New Zealand sent along another splendid donation. Sympathy very strong with men from all quarters.
The ballot taken on Monday read as follows; - “Are you in favour of continuing the strike? Yes. No.” Three hundred and nineteen answered in the affirmative, seven in the negative. When the result was made known to the men on strike it was received with deafening applause. Perhaps the bosses will not be so eager in wanting a ballot in future. They should take a ballot among themselves, as we believe they are misled by a couple of agitators.
This strike is going to do some good whichever way it ends. It has brought into existence a co-operative factory, and the men have only to guard against dangers and the success of the venture is assured. The strike has also taught the lesson which all wage earners must sooner or later learn-the necessity for some legislation to prevent a few of the community ruthlessly making war upon the people and trying to starve them into accepting any terms.
Extract from the report of the Brisbane Private Conciliation and Arbitration Committee: “We have to report continued efforts for the settlement of dispute in the bootmaking trade. Unfortunately we have failed to persuade the employers to accept the offer of arbitration made by the men, and the strike is even yet continued.”
The offer made by the bootmakers to allow the whole dispute to be settled by arbitration, and conveyed to the boot manufactures by the Rev. W. Whale, president of the Conciliation Board, has been refused, and it is evident the masters are trying to adhere to their original intention of starving the men into submission. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen. Up to the present they have failed, and the wage-earners of Queensland should look to it, and by every possible means raise funds to enable the bootmakers to fight the battle out.
Attempts are being made to prevent the Co-operative Boot factory from obtaining material to carry on their work. When a representative of the Co-operative Factory presented himself at the store of Messes. Farleigh, Nettheim and Co., in Adelaide-street, on Tuesday, the 30th July, and wanted to purchase some leather, &c., FOR CASH, the shopman said he had received orders not to supply the Co-operative. Only the day before, the Co-operative had purchased £14 worth of stuff. This is freedom of contract!
The men are to be complimented for showing their readiness to terminate the dispute. Every overture made by the men for conciliation or arbitration has been contemptuously rejected by the employers, whose actions throughout the past twelve weeks seem to point to one conclusion, viz., that their action in prolonging the strike misery is the result of hatred of the union for so gallantly defying all attempts to break the ranks. If the employers were led to believe that the offer to arbitrate
was an indication of weakness they were sadly mistaken, and must certainly admit it now they know the result of the ballot as to whether the strike should be continued or not. The employers have over and over again asserted that if a ballot were taken the majority would vote for a return to work. Out of 326 votes recorded 319 voted in favour of fighting on, and only seven for a return to work. This should be sufficient to convince anybody of the unanimous feeling of the men and should be a complete refutation to the lying assertions that a few men were to blame for the whole affair. It is easy enough to say the strike should be declared off. But at whose command. Unionism is too broad to allow a few men to run the show, and it would require some courage in the face of the vote taken to tell the men to return to work. After twelve week's fighting to determine to fight on is evidence of what a back down means – low wages, bad conditions, freedom of contract. This is what the employers are trying to enforce, and in their fancied security they have refused all offers of conciliation. This is why the men are roused to offer such a spirited resistance.