Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4
Auckland, 18 August, 1889
Very little of interest to the Craft has occurred in this city for some time; but at present there seems to be some stir among the local comps. On Saturday evening last, Eobson's Commercial Room was filled with one of the largest gatherings of those connected with the Printing Trade that has yet assembled in this city. Since the Typographical Society have seceded from the Executive Council, they have been making efforts to get everybody into the new Society that was available—stereotypers, lithographers, machinists, bookbinders, engravers, artists, as well as comps. This will prove a powerful Society, and one, I think, which will be able to make a good stand, and help to keep the trade on a high basis, thereby benefiting both master and man. Arrangements are not yet concluded for affiliating with the powerful Australian Typographical Union, but are expected soon to be settled.
The first meeting of the new Society took place as already stated, when a long report was laid on the table dealing with various phases of labor in this city—especially that of compositors. I take the following items from the report, which may be of interest to the trade generally. Speaking of the formation of a Master Printers' Association, it says:— « While being pleased at the successful formation of a Masters' Association, your Board feel some regret in having to state that rumors are afloat concerning the breaking of the tariff by more than one employer, and the still cutting propensities of certain firms. Our Association, like all other Unions, could materially assist the Masters' Association in maintaining fair prices for all classes of work, but it is impossible to even hint at any steps in this direction until we get that moral recognition and justice from employers which we have a right to expect. » Which shows that the Society is desirous of maintaining and helping the masters. Concerning the girl labor question which is at present creating quite a stir in more towns than this, the report continues: « Until some steps are taken regarding the employment of so great a number of girls as compositors, under the present cheap system of wages, and the unfair proportion of boys, it is absolutely impossible for the Masters' Association to exist for any length of time, as employers of this class of labor will cut down the prices. In our own interests, also, we feel justified in appealing to all fair employers to assist us in remedying this great evil, as it is well known that numbers of good men, married, and with families dependent upon them, have been compelled either to walk the streets, take to the bush and gum-fields, or seek employment in other cities, through being unable to obtain work here in consequence of so many girls and boys being engaged at the trade for a few shillings per week. It may be interesting to quote the opinion of the Auckland Star on the girl-labor evil, and the following is extracted from that journal of July 12, 1890:—
Much of the blame is due to the girls themselves and their silly parents, Nowadays domestic service is not good enough for a girl, while dressmaking or factory work is considered more genteel. Of course, employers take advantage of this prevailing human weakness. They offer a girl a shilling or two per week for her « genteel » labor, while an average domestic servant commands eight or ten shillings a week and a comfortable home, and a nurse-girl six shillings a week and the home thrown in. A social revolution is necessary to regulate this evil. Girls should be educated to recognize domestic service as far more befitting a woman and certainly more genteel than either boot or shirt factory work, better calculated to improve them morally and physically, and there is no doubt the knowledge they would get would enable them to minimise the number of unhappy homes through incapable and thriftless housewives.
Your Board would like to add to the above, that neither bootmaking nor shirtmaking can conduce more to the injury of girls, either morally or physically, than printing, and it is to be hoped that all Trade Unions, public opinion and sympathy will assist us in regulating this evil in printing offices. » The report and balance-sheet was accepted, after considerable discussion. The election of officers for the ensuing six months resulted as follows: President, J. Fisher (Scott & Co.); vice-president, R. B. Nesbitt (Herald); secretary, Fred. Christmas (McCullagh's); delegates to Trades and Labor Council, W. Jennings, J. Turner, R. B. Nesbitt, and A. T. Good. The meeting was addressed by Mr Mills, President of the Trades and Labor Council, who had been specially invited. The members decided to take part in the Labor Demonstration on 28th October. As the hour was late, the consideration of the new rules was left over to an adjourned meeting to be held on August 23rd.