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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 40

Joint Letter from the Managers of the Mosgiel, Roslyn, and Kaikorai Woollen Factories to the Commissioners on Local Industries

page 21

Joint Letter from the Managers of the Mosgiel, Roslyn, and Kaikorai Woollen Factories to the Commissioners on Local Industries.

Dunedin, 16th April, 1880.

Sirs,—In reply to your communication under date Wellington, 17th ultimo, addressed to us, and requesting information regarding local industries or manufactures, together with any suggestions that may occur to us in connection with the same, we, as representing the woollen factories in the Otago District, beg respectfully to submit for your consideration as follows:—

1st. We do not advocate any addition to the existing rate of Customs duty—viz., 15 per cent, ad valorem—upon woollen goods, as we consider this a fair enough set-off against—(1) The high rate of colonial interest; (2) the high rate of colonial wages; (3) the cost of bringing out to the Colony the necessary machinery, dye stuffs, and other articles necessary in carrying on the business of a woollen factory.

2nd. We are of opinion that the direction in which your Com mission might most materially assist us as woollen manufacturers is by recommending to the Legislature the relaxation of the Employment of Females Act, known also as Bradshaw's Act; and we would urge this on your favourable consideration on the following grounds:—

(1.) It does seem hard to us that, after going to the great expense of importing and fitting up the machinery necessary to manufacture woollen fabrics, the Legislature should step in and compel us to let the machinery remain idle for sixteen hours in the twenty-four, so as to comply with the requirements of Bradshaw's Act.

(2.) As all the work done in our manufactories is paid by the piece, it seems to us an unnecessary interference on the part of the State to step in and say to the women employed, "You shall not work more than eight hours out of the twenty-four." There is not a week passes that we are not urged by the women employed by us to set the law at defiance by permitting them to continue their work for an hour or two beyond the legalized time. Further, the employment in itself is of the most healthy description, as can be seen by the members of the Commission paying a personal visit of inspection to any of the factories represented by us—in fact, we would most strongly urge the Commission to page 22 make such a personal inspection, and we shall be delighted to arrange to enable you to visit any or all of them.

(3.) The relaxation of Bradshaw's Act that we would suggest is the adoption of the system that prevails in England and Scotland, as follows: From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., allowing two hours for meals, from Monday to Friday inclusive, and on Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowing one hour for breakfast; or, altogether, fifty-seven hours per week. Of course it is understood that, in asking for this relaxation, we are willing that the working of any such alteration should be made subject to special inspection on the part of the Government, and further, that it should only extend to the six summer months of the year, say from 1st October to 31st March.

(4.) Should it be deemed inexpedient to relax by legislation Bradshaw's Act in the direction indicated above, we would suggest that, in the case of our woollen factories, a law be introduced whereby we may have the privilege by special license, and subject to special inspection, to work two hours per day longer than the time recognized by Bradshaw's Act.

In submitting the above for your consideration, we may, in conclusion, state that, in the event of your desiring to see any of us personally during your visit to Dunedin, we shall be happy to attend, on your giving us the necessary notice of time and place.—We have, &c.,

John H. Morrison, Manager,

Mosgiel Woollen Factory Company, Limited.

Ross and Glendining,

Roslyn Woollen Mills.

McLandress, Hepburn, and Co.,

Kaikorai Woollen Factory.