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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Classification of Workmen and Apprentices

page 147

Classification of Workmen and Apprentices

The vexed questions of the Master Printers and the Printing Society are—On the part of the Society, the employment of an undue proportion of boys to the number of men; on the part of the Masters, having no guarantee of competency of workmen before employing them. To remedy these matters it is, I submit, necessary for the Society to inaugurate a system of classification, as is done in the learned professions; that of State School teachers appears to be a good one to formulate regulations upon. Having premised so much, I will to business first with

The Boy.—

It should be indispensible for admission as an apprentice into a composing-room, to hold a Sixth Standard Board School certificate, or, if educated in a denominational school, an equivalent satisfactory to the Printers' Board of Examiners. To agree, by a clause in his indentures, to continue taking lessons in English through the whole term of apprenticeship. The term of apprenticeship to be at least six years. At the end of each year of his term of apprenticeship to produce certificates of having regularly attended for instruction and made progress satisfactory to the instructor; also of good conduct in the office, from the master or overseer; and to present himself for examination and classification before the authorized Board of Examiners or their supervisors, at the time and place appointed by them. A uniform minimum rate of apprentices' wages to be fixed by the Trade Council; the said minimum to be raised to a stated maximum scale for each year if the apprentice passes the examination. Should he fail to pass, the wage to remain at the minimum rate for each year. Having duly served his time and passed all his examinations, he shall receive a Third-Class Certificate of Competency as an operative printer; at the expiry of one year he may present himself to the Board for further examination, and be classified according to merit, either as a First- or Second-Class workman. Should he not succeed in obtaining higher certificate, he may present himself at any subsequent Annual Examination, paying such fees as the Society may fix. A small fee to cover expenses shall be payable by all candidates before attending for examination.

Examination Suggestions.—

First Year.—Examined in names and sizes of types, say from nonpareil to two-line pica; the relative values in sizes of spaces; an intelligent knowledge of all the boxes in type-cases, with the variations of lays in leading offices. Second Year.—Examined in the relative sizes of leads, clumps, and brass-rule; required an increased knowledge of the sizes and names of types of all ranges; to compose, correct, and distribute a stickful of type; the supervisor to check the time taken and retain the proof with the reader's marks for transmission with the other papers to the Examining Board: also to lay down, lock up, and prove two octavo pages— the supervisor to report on the work. Third Year.—To write an intelligent recapitulation of the two previous years' work; to compose an octavo display circular or handbill from manuscript—the proof-copy with reader's corrections (the reader not to alter style) to be sent in with the Candidate's other papers, with a note by the Supervisor of the time taken; at the discretion of the Supervisor to lay down and impose four pages octavo or quarto, he to report in writing on the work to the Board. Fourth Year.—To compose an octavo page of brevier from supplied manuscript, said manuscript to be reasonably difficult; proof with reader's marks and note of time taken to be sent in to Board with other papers, with any remarks that the Supervisor thinks necessary on the Candidate's work and style; to impose eight octavo pages; and to compose a table from reprint copy. Fifth Year. To cast-off and compose to a given size of paper a mixed-size type table from manuscript copy; to compose at his option a paragraph of either Latin, French, or Greek, from manuscript (but one to be compulsory); to lay down and impose sixteen pages of octavo. Supervisor to report on work as in previous cases. Sixth Year.—To compose from manuscript to be supplied a mathematical examination-paper, also a Greek examination-paper; to impose a sheet of twelves; to write a short essay on the necessary qualifications of a printer— the composition to receive marks for its purity of English, &c. The Supervisor to report on actual work as before. Raising Certificates. To have been in work either continuously or intermittently for at least twelve months; to answer satisfactorily any written questions of experts in newspaper- and book-work; to write a short essay on his experience of the working of these regulations in his particular case: marks to be given for purity of diction, &c. The maximum number of marks to be 500, of which the Candidate must score 350 for a First-Class, or over 250 for a Second-Class Certificate.

Examining Boards, and Issue of Certificates.—

Examining Boards shall be established in all the principal centres of population. To consist of, as members, a D-certificated schoolmaster and at least two experienced printers of undeniable ability and integrity, to be appointed by the Supreme Council,—one of the Examiners to be an expert job-printer. All examination-papers throughout the colony to be uniform, and to be set alternately by each Board; or as many Boards as are necessary to be requested to set one paper each on a given subject. The copy for Examination-papers to be sent direct to the selected printer of them, who should be responsible for having the printed papers numbered, sealed up in packets, and sent direct to the Examining Boards in the various centres, whose Supervisors shall send to the Boards of Examiners all the Candidates' papers and results of practical examinations for revision; and the Boards shall in due course and with all reasonable despatch remit the results and names of successful Candidates, with the class of Certificate to be given to each, to the Executive Board of the Supreme Council of tbe trade. The Supreme Council, having revised the Examiners' Reports, shall issue Certificates, which shall be signed by the President and Secretary, and sealed with the Council's Seal. A list of successful Candidates shall be published in the Society's recognized newspaper. Journeymen's Certificates shall be on parchment.

Classification of Compositors now Working in the Colony.—

All Compositors bonâ-fide Members of the Society, of good repute in the trade and twenty-one years of age, shall be entitled to receive from the Executive, without any examination, a Third-Class Certificate of competency. Compositors having worked as journeymen three years consecutively in a « fair » office shall be entitled to a Second-Class Certificate; and for a period of seven years in a first-class office, a First-Class Certificate. And the Executive of the Supreme Council may at their discretion grant Certificates without examination, on receipt of evidence satisfactory to them of the Candidate's fitness. But after the 31st December, 189-, Certificates shall not on any pretext be granted without examination except to new arrivals by sea, and not to them until they have fully satisfied the Executive of the Society, by such tests as the Executive shall decide upon, of their abilities as competent workmen. The fee for all Journeymen's Certificates shall be £1, and for the endorsement of a higher grade on existing Certificates, 5/- each time, payable in advance. Certificates shall not be issued to persons in arrears of payments to the Society. Any certificated Compositor six months in arrears of dues shall have his Certificate suspended until such dues are paid; notice of such suspension to be sent to his employer or overseer; and such suspension shall disqualify him for work in any of the Society offices. For continued flagrant breach of the laws of the Society, the Executive may cancel a Certificate; subject, however, to revision by the next Annual Meeting of Members, to which meeting an explanation and reasons for cancellation shall be given.

Minimum Rates of Wages.—

The Executive shall fix the minimum rates of wages for Compositors holding First-, Second-, and Third-Class Certificates respectively.

Funds for Expenses

shall be raised by fees for Examinations, Certificates, and fees from Apprentices, who as junior Members of Society shall pay Id per week for first year, 2d per week for second year, and so on; but shall be exempt from levies; and such payments shall entitle them to free examination. Any deficiency to be made up by vote from Council funds.

Election and Duties of Examining Boards.—

Each Board to consist of five members, one of whom shall be chairman. Companionships of recognized offices to be invited to nominate gentlemen for the position. Excess of nominations over requirements to be settled by ballot. The first-elected Boards to hold office for three years; then two members to retire each year, but to be eligible for re-election, the members to decide, by ballotting-out, the sequence of their retirement. One of such members to be a D-certificated schoolmaster, the other four of the status of first-class printers; vacancies by death or retirement to be filled up as first herein named. Duties of Boards to be to make arrangements of dates, hours, and places for examinations; preparation of examination-papers for practical and written answers; to appoint Supervisors, and issue clear instructions for their guidance; to apportion marks, and pass or fail Candidates; and to report to the Supreme Council on merits of passed Candidates. The Board Secretaries to supply the Board Chairman with all necessary particulars of Candidates proposing to present themselves for page 148certificates of eligibility. Candidates to send in their names, with fees, and state class of certificate they wish to be examined for to the Board Executive at least three weeks before the Annual Examination days, which shall be uniform throughout the Colony. The Examining Officers shall be honorary free members of the Typographical Society by virtue of their offices.


The Supreme Council shall keep a Register of all Certificated Printers, with their rank as workmen and dates of Certificates, with any other information which may be deemed necessary.


To carry out the foregoing, or any revised scheme on similar lines: The Executive to meet and approve the same. To have sufficient copies printed and sent to the Branches for distribution among the members. To invite the said Branches to call meetings of their members to discuss the proposals and adopt them if approved, or to make such amendments as they may think necessary. Each Branch to report the result to the Executive on or before a date to be fixed. The failure of any Branch to respond to be taken as indicating that assent is given to the propositions in globo. If the majority of Branches are favorable to the scheme, the Executive, after considering any objections, and, if worthy and practicable, adopting them, shall forthwith proceed to put the Regulations into force: (1) By inviting the Branches to proceed forthwith, in the manner previously indicated, with the appointment of Boards of Examiners. Such Boards to be requested to meet, examine all claims from journeymen for Certificates, and report to the Executive upon each claim, recommending the class of Certificate to be given. Upon receipt of the Board's reports the Supreme Council shall issue Certificates to Members; but in no case shall a Certificate be granted until the Registration fee of £1 is paid. (2) By sending to every known Master Printer in the Colony a list of recognized certificated printers, with a copy of the adopted Regulations, asking each one's co-operation in carrying them out, pointing out as briefly as possible the fact that they have been passed with a view to foster the best interests of both parties; especially drawing attention to the Apprentices' Regulations. And any other remarks the Executive may think necessary. (3) By requesting the Branches to invite Apprentices to send in applications to the examining Boards for classification as recognized Society apprentices; at the same time pointing out to them the necessity for prompt action if they desire to become certificated printers. And simultaneously to request the Examining Boards, by such means as they think proper, to classify such apprentices with as little delay as possible. Society representatives in offices might be asked to interview the boys and explain the matter to them. (4) By requesting the Examining Boards to make arrangements for examinations as early as possible in the year 189-. (5) By having a Register Book prepared, and Certificates printed on parchment as follows:

Typographical Society of New Zealand.

Whereas by the powers vested in the Executive Council of the Typographical Society of New Zealand by the Members thereof to grant Certificates of Competency to Printers,

And Whereas ............ has satisfied the Board of Examiners at ......... that he is a competent workman,

This is to Certify that the said .......... has been duly admitted by the Executive Council of the Society to the Degree of Class Printer.

Given under our hands this ...... day of 189..

......... Chairman.

......... Secretary.


(6) By having a Register-Book prepared, and Apprentices' Certificates printed on stout paper, as below:

Typographical Society of New Zealand.

This is to Certify that ............. has passed the Examination as a .......... Year Apprentice.

........ Chairman Examining Board.

........ 189..

N.B.—This Certificate must be produced to the Supervisor before sitting for a subsequent Examination.

Chairmen of Boards should be requested to send the names and grades of passed apprentices, for registration by the Executive Council. (7) By preparing and publishing a list of fair offices into which recognized Society apprentices are allowed to be taken as vacancies occur, supplementing the list from time to time as needs require. By giving the greatest possible publicity to the facts that after 1st January, 189-, on no pretext whatever will youths be recognized or classified from outside offices; neither will they be rated as Certificated Compositors when of age; and that no turnovers nor improvers can be taken into Society offices from unrecognized offices. That no boys over fifteen years of age can be taken as apprentices into Society offices. Provided always that the Supreme Executive Council shall have discretionary powers in exceptional cases where injustice may be done to an individual through no fault of his own; but that in no case shall an admission be allowed, either as journeyman or apprentice, without examination and favorable report from the Examining Board of the District. Further, the Executive may inflict a penalty on admission if it be proved that carelessness on the part of the applicant is a part of the cause. In cases of exceptional admission, the facts should be briefly stated in the Register of Printers. (8) As to carry out the foregoing honestly will involve a large amount of extra clerical and other labor, a paid officer should be appointed to initiate the movement. After (say) the first year, the duties might be amalgamated with those of the Executive Secretary. (9) That powers be sought from Parliament to have the regulations recognized in the Trades and Labor legislation, thereby giving them the force of law.


If the foregoing, or an equivalent, be adopted, it will within a year check the boy-labor business in the printing profession, as lads and their friends will naturally pause before entering non-Society offices, and the demand in the fair offices is always limited. The educational test will be a bar-sinister to the rag, tag, and bobtail; the status of all printers will be at once raised, and in a few years enormously increased. The sympathies of all the leading Masters will undoubtedly be with the Society, as by the proposed scheme their own interests will be materially conserved. Thus the Society will become a power in the land not to be despised, funds for the various laudable objects of the institution will be abundant, and men will be proud of their membership.

Free discussion of these suggestions is invited.

C. H. Chatwin.