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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

Dunedin, 16th October, 1890. To the Secretary of United Millers, Engine Drivers and Mill Employees' Society of New Zealand

Dunedin, To the Secretary of United Millers, Engine Drivers and Mill Employees' Society of New Zealand.

Dear Sir—I duly received your letters and enclosures, and would have replied sooner, but for some time I have intended to resign my position as Manager for the firm of Robert Anderson & Co., and I did not wish to commit my successor to any course he might not approve of. I have now handed in my resignation, but my successor is not yet appointed, and I will give you my opinion of your proposals without prejudice.

I have had very little talk with the employers about them, but I believe they are to be discussed at a meeting to be held here 011 the 18th inst., and I do not think that they will be agreed to. You page 7 seem to ask for too much at once; if you were to ask for the mills to be stopped at one o'clock on Saturday, and that the night millers be free from Saturday morning till Monday night, I believe the majority of the millowners would help you to carry this; it would lessen the output of flour, and over production is spoiling the milling trade in New Zealand. If the eight-hours system is introduced, I believe it will result in many working millers being out of employment for some months every year. There should be a minimum rate of wages fixed, so that no employer should have any advantage over those who wish to pay fair wages. For the last few years working millers have had (speaking generally) their fair share of profits, but there is no trade where they fluctuate so much as in milling, and a paid rate is never quite fair; something in the nature of co-operation would be the most equitable system. There is no mention of water-mills in your proposals, and they will be heavily handicapped if no allowance is made where the water-power is irregular. I could write further, but have little time, and perhaps I have already written more than you care for, but I have no selfish motive in giving my opinions as I am leaving the milling trade soon. I may say I have had considerable experience both as master and man, and would wish to see the trade on a better basis than it is at present, but I do not see that your proposals in their present form would be of permanent benefit either to men or employers.

Yours faithfully,

William Brown,

(Manager for Robert Anderson & Co.)