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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3

The Brisbane Strike

page 37

The Brisbane Strike.

There has been an epidemic of strikes going through the Australian colonies during the last twelve months. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, have successively taken the most extreme step that can be taken in a dispute between master and man. The printers of Sydney and Melbourne struck for an increase in wages, which, after very little trouble, was granted. The Adelaide affair arose out of a somewhat trivial dispute, and is still causing dissension in that city. Brisbane is the seat of the latest strike in our trade, and there seems to be many opinions abroad as to the rights and wrongs of the case that we have considered the matter within our range, as Typo claims it as no part of its policy to leave our sister-colonies out of the range of its columns.

A Brisbane weekly paper, in an article published early in the month, (when the trouble arose) thus puts the matter:— « The facts of the case are briefly these: Some two months ago the employés of Messrs Watson, Ferguson, & Co., an office which had only just been 'opened' after a long spell of non-unionism, refused to do work in that office for Messrs Pole, Outridge, & Co., a non-society office which had been put into a 'hole' by a fire. This led to a 'lock-out,' in which Watson, Ferguson, & Co.'s bookbinders and paper-rulers were involved. The Master Printers' Association was approached by the Q.T.A., through the Trades and Labor Council, for a conference on the affair, but after a delay of two weeks—during which Watson, Ferguson, & Co. refilled their shop from Sydney—it was resolved by the Master Printers' Association to inform the Council that a conference would be useless. Further resolutions were passed, one endorsing Messrs Watson, Ferguson, & Co.'s action, and another declaring: 'That in the event of the Q.T.A. interfering in any way in the future with the internal management of any office connected with the Master Printers' Association, the secretary shall at once call an emergency meeting of the Association to take concerted action thereon, and that rule 19 of the Association be revised to admit of such emergency meetings being held without the seven days' notice prescribed.' One representative only protested against this threatening resolution, which means, if it means anything at all, that non-society shops will be assisted against the Q.T.A. by so-called society shops, and that the refusal of society men to thus stab their trade organization in the back will be regarded as a casus belli by the associated masters. »

The Queensland Master Printers' Association consists of the representatives of twenty firms. Information dated the 16th inst. notifies that ten offices had up to that date signed the Q.T.A.'s terms, which read; « To do none but Union work; employ none but Union men; and take back all the men who are out on strike. »

We wonder who is the Press Association's agent at Brisbane? It will be within the recollection of readers that we were informed by cable two or three weeks ago that a printers' riot had taken place in Brisbane. We have searched the files just to hand for full particu lars, and we fail to see how printers could be blamed for a street fracas between two news boys and a tailor! It was asserted, without contradiction, in court, that the printers had nothing whatever to do with the disturbance. Apropos of the correctness of our Press Agency's cables, when the miners' strike was taking place at New castle some months back, an item was wired across the water and displayed in bold type by our papers to the effect that the Unionists had blown up a mine in which non-Unionists were at work. Of course this created a stir, but when newspapers from Australia arrived, it was found that the report was false and libellous: the truth being that an explosion of gas had taken place, the result of carelessness on the part of some of the workmen, which is of only of too frequent occurrence in coal mines.

T. L. M.