Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4
We have to acknowledge receipt of vol. x of the Printers' International Specimen Exchange. We have written an extended notice; but press of local matter of importance compels us to hold it over.
In Wellington, on the 16th April, before what is known as the « sweating commission, » Mr William McGirr, attended as President of the local branch of the Typographical Society. He stated that he was employed at the Government buildings, but had nothing to complain of in regard to his wages. He knew of one establishment in which seven boys were employed at a total wage of £2 6s. Several of them received 6s a week, and all of them had on Thursday evenings to work overtime without extra pay. The ages of the boys ranged from 15 to 17 years. Three females were also employed as compositors there, and the boys had to take work home to do at night, but he understood that this practice had been discontinued recently. In another office there was an undue proportion of boys, there being one man, paid £3 a week, to act as foreman over them. The boys entered the service of these employers under a verbal agreement to serve six years. In one newspaper office twenty-two men were employed, and in another only two, there being in the latter office a number of boys. Asked if there were many compositors now out of work, Mr McGirr stated that in the recess there were always a certain number of competent compositors out of work. If all the boys were to be dismissed forthwith there would be plenty of men to fill their places. He was of opinion that boys should be legally bound for a certain period to their employers, and that the Apprentices Act should be brought into force. Boys should not, he considered, be allowed to learn the trade of a compositor until they had passed the fifth standard. Mr McGirr said there were not many non-union men employed in Wellington outside of one newspaper office.—The Chairman mentioned that the complaint as to the preponderance of boy and girl labor in almost every trade had been general throughout their inquiry, but he questioned what would be done with those boys and girls if men only were employed.—Mr Blair: Stop the production (laughter).—Mr McGirr saw no objection to female labor provided the females were paid £3 a week, the standard wages. Women, he believed, might be as valuable as men, for picking up type, but there were some classes of work in a printing office which women could not do.—Mr D. P. Fisher: Do you think the union does any good for the Craft? Mr McGirr replied in the affirmative, saying this had been especially the case during the last two years. Asked by Mr Blair if he did not think that the employment of boy-labor had been forced upon employers through the cutting down of prices, Mr McGirr said he thought the masters who employed cheap labor in the first instance had instructed the public up to demanding cheap work. He did not think that the public cared much about the quality of work as long as it was cheap. The witness stated that if he went into a shop where he saw the imprint of one of the cheap employers on a bill, he always advised the person to have his printing done at the union offices. He acknowledged, in answer to Mr Blair, that he considered the public were largely to blame in the matter for receiving work improperly done. Mr McGirr commented on the incompetent work which was turned out in country offices.—Mr Blair remarked that canvassers in a great measure caused this by bringing the good work from the country to the city offices.