The Eight Hours Movement.
The United Millers, Engine-Drivers, and Mill Employees' Society of New Zealand.
The following correspondence has been compiled and published by the Executive of the United Millers, Engine Drivers and Mill Employees' Society of New Zealand, for presentation to Members of both Houses of Parliament, and for the consideration of its own members, to enable them to form an opinion as to the action of the Mill Owners and N. Z. Millers' Association with regard to the proposed alterations in the hours of labour, &c. It will be seen that when first approached on the subject of the Saturday's half holiday, the principal Mill Owners in New Zealand acquiesced in the proposal if it were to become general, but drew back from this on one firm declining to fall in with it. A second appeal for the concession was made early in 1890 with no better result, whereupon this Society was formed, on proper business lines, having in view the benefit of the employees of the trade in general. The meetings of this Society have exposed many abuses, but a desire has been evinced by the delegates and members generally to avoid friction with the Mill Owners, and in no way to harass them by exorbitant or unreasonable demands. The lines on which the Society has worked have been taken from kindred Associations in Australia, where the results of mutual combination have proved most satisfactory to employers and employed. A memorandum of agreement, which was most carefully prepared, was submitted to the Owners in the latter portion of 1890 for their perusal. To this was attached the proposed hours of labour and scale of wages, drafted with every possible consideration for the interests of men and masters alike. They were considered by the Millers' Association in conference a few days later, and the proposals, with one exception, agreed to. The N. Z. Millers' Association and the Otago and Southland Millers' Association went so far as to recommend that page iv the eight hours system should come into operation on Jan. 1, 1891; meanwhile two firms adopted it forthwith, and another one adopted it on the day named. The other owners made no move in favour of the employees. Rather than act hastily, and with a view of bringing about an explanation of their reason for holding back from what was tantamount to a promise made by the Millers' Association, this Society deputed its president and an independent officer of the Canterbury Trades and Labour Council to wait on the several owners Their reports show that, though the deputation was favourably received and courteously replied to in each case, there was a general inclination to cast the responsibility of the question on to other shoulders, and to imply that the blame of the promise not being kept lay with some one else—thus the object of the deputation's visits was frustrated. On their return, as the possibility of securing a general agreement without a conference seemed out of the question, this Society suggested such a step being taken. It was likewise suggested that Delegates from the Masters' and Employees' Associations should meet and come to an amicable arrangement as soon as possible.
It will thus be seen that the employees, during the whole eighteen months in which this parleying has been conducted, have approached the Masters with every courtesy and respect; they have only sought to obtain their rights, after calm deliberation and with the experience of the older Colony to guide them; yet on Jan. 30, 1891, they receive notice from the Secretary of the N. Z. Millers' Association that a conference is declined, and that in future each miller will work his mill as he chooses. At present nearly all flour mills in New Zealand run twelve hour shifts—twelve hours day shift, and twelve hours night shift. The men on the day shift are allowed time for meals, but in some mills the engine-driver has to work continuously, and take his meals when he can. The men on the night shift also work twelve hours continuously, and take their meals beside their work. These men, both day-shift and night-shift, have unhealthier conditions of work, longer hours, and fewer holidays than any other tradesmen; are men whose own time after work is valueless to them because of their tired and exhausted state; are men who (like horses) go from stable to work and from work to stable, and whose routine of life under its present conditions may be summed up in three words-work, eat, and sleep.page v
We believe that the chief value of any organised Trade Society is in formulating and emphasizing demands, the justice of which by continued and legitimate agitation has at last been impressed upon those charged with making the public laws, and in this belief we respectfully ask your perusal of this pamphlet, and your support in legalising eight hours as the standard of a day's work in New Zealand flour mills.
V. Wilson,General Secretary. Timaru,
June 1st, 1891.
The Eight Hours Movement.
As far back as November, 1889, the employees of the principal millowners of New Zealand petitioned their employers for a weekly half-holiday on Saturday afternoons. All replied favourably "provided the half holiday became general throughout New Zealand Hour mills," except one firm, whose employees were satisfied with the alternate Saturday half-holiday and a week's holiday, or a week's extra pay each year, besides other holidays for which they were paid, and no pay stopped from anyone who was off work a few days through sickness.
Those millowners who replied "they would fall in when the half-holiday became general," made this firm's refusal the ground for objecting to give the half-holiday asked for.
|(a)||To fix the hours of labour.|
|(b)||To effect a proper understanding between employers and employed.|
|(c)||To initiate reforms.|
|(d)||To counteract influences that may be working against its members' interests, and to enable its members to fill their situations with comfort to themselves, and advantage to their employer.|
Millers and mill employees in other milling centres on learning what had been done, wrote, asking information, which was given, and resulted in branches of the Society being formed at Auckland, Christchurch, Ashburton, Oamaru, Dunedin, and Invercargill. On August 4th, delegates from the branches met, when rules were drafted and an Executive appointed to see them carried out in accordance with the objects for which the Society was formed.page 2
On October 1st, following the precedent set by the Victorian United Millers' Association, the following Letter, Proposed Agreement, and Scale of Wages was sent to twenty-five of the principal millowners of New Zealand.
1st October, 1890.
Dear Sir—On behalf of our Society we beg leave to submit our Rules and Proposed Agreement for your consideration. A Scale of Wages is also presented, which it was thought necessary to draw up in order to place all master millers on the same footing respecting wages. In support of the agreement submitted we may state that over 90 per cent, of Victorian millowners are working their mills under the same agreement that we now place before you; while in New South Wales the principal millowners employ only Society men, and have agreed to introduce the Eight Hours system with the New Year; and we may also state that at the present time there are two mills working on the eight hours system in New Zealand. We trust you will not think we are approaching you in anything like a dictatorial manner, in submitting our rules and proposed agreement, and should anything contained therein meet with your disapproval, we feel assured that you will be quite willing to meet and discuss the matter with us in a friendly spirit, in order that an amicable settlement may be arrived at.
Hoping for some indication of your action with respect to what we have placed before you, at your earliest convenience,
I remain, yours faithfully,
David Orme, Secretary.
October 1st, 1890.
Proposed agreement by mutual consent, between the United Millers, Engine Drivers, and Mill Employees' Society and Millowners of New Zealand, for the purpose of regulating the uniform working of flour mills, best calculated to faithfully carry out the Eight Hours principle.
1st.—In all divisions of Mill Work the whole of the Employees to be members of this Society.
2.nd.—The recognition of the Eight Hours system in its entirety.
3rd.—Overtime rate—Time and a half.
Holidays—First and second day of each year, Good Friday, Queen's Birthday, Demonstration Day, Prince of Wales' Birthday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day; if worked, double rates to be paid.page 3
Sunday Labour to be strenuously avoided, except in event of extreme necessity, and in all cases to be paid for at the rate of double time.
Wm. Houston, President.
V. Wilson, Vice-President.
H. Trousselot, Treasurer.
D. Omie, Secretary.
H. Hopkinson, Christchurch.
T. Undrill, Ashburton.
W. Houston, Timaru.
J. Thorpe, Oamaru.
R. Macdonald, Dunedin.
G. Coates, Invercargill.
Millowners agreeable to work their mills on the above lines are requested to return this statement with the signature of the firm attached.
Signature of Firm...................................
First Shift—From 7 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.; two hours meals, except Saturday, 6.30 a.m. till 1 p.m.
Second Shift—5.30 p.m. till 3 a.m., one hour meal; Saturday 1 p.m. till 7.30 p.m.
Three Shifts—12 midnight till 8 a.m., 8 a.m. till 4 p.m., 4 p.m. till 12 p.m.
Overtime only to be worked in case of emergency, not systematically, and to he paid for at the rate of time-and-half.
In all divisions of Mill work, Union labour to be employed.
Notice to Millowners.
Any Millowner working on Union lines, requiring the services of competent workmen for any division of Mill work, can obtain the same by applying to the Secretary, Millers' Society, Timaru, who will promptly send to the Employer applying, Roller Millers, Stone Millers, Engine Drivers, Packers, &c., &c., as the case may be.
William Houston, President.
D. Orme, Secretary.
Scale of Wages.
United Millers, Engine Drivers, and Mill Employees' Society of New Zealand.
- Foreman Miller, having charge of a Mill of a capacity of under 5 sacks per hour, £3 10s. per week of 48 hours.
- Foreman Miller, having charge of a Mill of a capacity of 5 sacks and up to, but not including 10 sacks per hour, £4 per week of 48 hours.
- Foreman Miller, having charge of a Mill of a capacity of 10 sacks per hour and over, £5 per week of 48 hours.
- General Miller, for Mills of a capacity of under 10 sacks per hour, £2 15s. per week of 48 hours; over 10 sacks per hour £3 per week of 48 hours.
- Wheat Mixers or Smuttermen, £2 8s. per week of 48 hours.
- General Hands, Flour and Bran Packers and General Mill Hands, £2 5s. per week of 48 hours.
- Mill Engine Drivers, £2 15s. per week of 48 hours.
- Firemen, where firemen are employed, £2 8s. per week of 48 hours.
- Storeman, where a man is specially employed and held responsible for the receiving and delivering of all milling produce, £3 per week of 48 hours.
The foregoing Scale of Wages applies to both Roller and Stone Mills.
2nd October, 1890.The Secretary Millers' Union, Timaru.
Dear Sir—We are in receipt of your letter of the 1st inst. with its various enclosures. We will consider the matters you have laid before us.
K. G. Turner.
4th October, 1890.
Mr. David Orme,Secretary U.M.E.D. and M.E. Association, Timaru.
Dear Sir—On behalf of our firm I beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of 1st inst with enclosures. As the suggestions contained page 5 therein are so manifold, and will affect the millowners more as a body than individually, I have deemed it my duty as Secretary of the N.Z. Millers' Association, to convene a meeting of members of the Association to consider same. The meeting will be held on Wednesday next, and I shall then probably be able to give you the ideas of the Association on the subject.
W. G. Aspinall, Hon. Sec., N.Z.M.A.
6th October, 1890.
Mr. D. Orme,Secretary United Millers Employees' Association, Timaru.
Dear Sir—We are in receipt of yours of the 1st inst. with enclosures, for which we thank you, and the same shall have our consideration at an early date.
Yours faithfully,Timaru Milling Co., Ltd.
(P. W. Eiby, Manager.)
3rd September, 1890.The President Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—Yours dated 1st inst. duly received, and will be laid before next meeting of Millers' Association for consideration.
Wm. Evans, Managing Director,(Evans and Co., Ltd.)
8th October, 1890.
Mr. David Orme,Secretary Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—I am in receipt of your letter of October 1st, covering rules, &c., of your Society, and same has had my careful attention. As the whole matter will be brought before the N.Z. Millers' Association at their next meeting, for approval or otherwise, I think it is unnecessary for individual firms to express any opinion theron. I may, however, state that I am in favour of Trade Unions, and believe great good will result therefrom if well managed. I was also in favour of the affiliation of Trade Unions up to the time of the present strike, but watching carefully the operations of the present strike, has caused me to somewhat modify my views on the subject of affiliation, and I am driven to the conclusion that "Affiliation" and "Boy-cotting," has acted disastrously to those engaged in the cause of labour in this struggle.page 6
Hours and Wages—If all the millowners in New Zealand are placed on the same footing with respect to these, personally, I cannot discover any reasonable grounds on which they can object to your proposals. All I contend for is "a fair field and no favour:" this granted, if I cannot make a living at milling, I must turn my attention to some other calling; and if the present margin of profit is not sufficient to meet the extra demands, then clearly the margin must be widened and the burden cast upon the general public.
Rule 48—I understand you have amended this Rule in the direction of allowing Unionists and Non-unionists to work together; if so, I think you have removed grounds on which objection could be founded.
13th Oct., 1890.
To Mr. Wm. Houston,President Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—We beg to acknowledge receipt of your favour of the 1st inst., with enclosed. We have always been able to get on very well with our hands without the intervention of others, and we trust we shall always be able to do so. You are probably aware we have for some time past worked our mill on the eight-hour system, and the rate of wages we pay is about equal to your scale. If our hands have any grievance we are always willing to discuss the matter with them.
16th October, 1890.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.
William Brown,(Manager for Robert Anderson & Co.)
13th October, 1890.
Mr. David Orme,Secretary United Millers Engine Drivers and Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
"That the N.Z. Millers' Association approve the principle of eight hours being considered the standard of a day's work in flour mills, and recommend its members to bring the same into operation on 1st January next.
"That the New Zealand Millers' Association as such does not recognise the question of Unions or Non-unions, but reserve to each millowner the right of individual and independent action."
W. G. Aspinall, Hon. Sec., N.Z.M.A.
22nd October, 1890.
Mr. D. Orme,Secretary Operative Millers' Union, Timaru.
That this Association approves of the principle of eight hours being considered the standard of a day's work in flour mills, and recommends its members to bring the same into force on the 1st of January next.
That this Association as an institution refuse to recognise the question of the employment of Labour, whether "union" or "non-union," but reserves the right of individual and independent action in this matter.
A. Steven, Secretary.
While this correspondence was passing the eight hours system was introduced in the Riccarton mills, Christchurch, and a little later in the Canterbury mill, Ashburton. It was believed from the resolutions passed by the N.Z. Millers' Association, and the Otago and Southland Miller's Association, that the eight hours system would become general in their mills at the new year; however, such was not the case, as only another mill was added to the list of eight hour mills (the Belford Milling Co., Timaru) after the advent of 1891.
It was resolved, in consequence, to send two delegates to visit mill-owners personally on this matter. Mr. F. J. Bidmead, Secretary of the Canterbury Trades and Labour Council, and Mr. William Houston, President of the Timaru Branch, were chosen. The following is their report:—
Mr. Aspinall (Temuka Mills).Temuka,
10th January, 1891.
During the course of the conversation Mr. Aspinall stated that he was a member of the Master Millers' Association. He had been instrumental in the formation of the Society. There had been and still was a great deal of cutting. His mill was not so favourably situated as Rollitt's of Ashburton, or indeed other mills; the larger mills of Timaru and Oamaru had the advantage of premises being nearer the sea and upon the line of railway. He did not see how he could work his mill upon the eight-hour system, there would be a difference, he worked twelve hours and his men were satisfied.page 9
In reply to further questions, he stated that he would not commit himself to say positively, without consulting his partner, that the eight hours or the weekly rate of forty-eight should be adopted at their mill. He quite understood that the men would be fresher and do good work. He did not know that the system had already been adopted by some millers; on the contrary, he understood that it had not. Was aware of the movement in Sydney, but did not know that it was in force there. Was glad to meet the Deputation to talk over the matter. There was a meeting of the Master Millers in Christchurch on the 15th inst., and would suggest that a small deputation meet the employers there. Quite understood that it would be of advantage to all concerned that there should be an amicable understanding as between employers and employees, and was pleased to know that an attempt was now being made to bring this about. Thought there was an over production taking place, but that was a matter the employers would have to arrange among themselves. If the employees would assist the masters to prevent cutting he would be glad. The whole matter would have to be put on a good and sound footing, and he for one would assist, as he had already done, to bring it about.
After further discussion of a technical nature, with Mr. Houston, upon the relative position of his mill with regard to working arrangements, meal hours, railway and shipping facilities, stone mills, eating during work, Mr. Aspinall again affirmed that he would not place any obstacle in the way of adopting the eight hours system, with the understanding that he should consult his partner before committing himself definitely upon the subject; moreover, the matter would be brought up at the coming Conference of Millowners, and if those gentlemen approved, he would of course follow.
Mr. Ibey(Manager, Royal Flouring Mills, Timaru).
12th January, 1891.
In reply to the deputation Mr. Ibey stated that he would adopt the eight hour shifts, as soon as the other millowners did so. He would rather not give a letter to that effect as he thought it unnecessary. So far as concerned his mill, he would carry out the promises he made, and was prepared to do so. Thought that a given date should be fixed, say for instance 1st March next; and also suggested that the men should fix the date when the alteration should come into force. Upon it being pointed out that this would be outside the province of the employees, without an agreement upon the subject with the employers, he admitted that it would be better for both interests to fix upon a date, in conjunction one with another. Regarding Sydney his information was not of a recent date, but was aware that arrangements had been made there. In answer to further questions he again affirmed Yes, I give you the promise that forty-eight hours are not to he page 10 exceeded as a week's work." It may be probable that upon some days it may be necessary to work nine or ten hours, but that would not interfere with the forty-eight hours. It may indeed be better to complete the week's work and run the mill say five days instead of the usual six. He did not know that his mill had superior advantages over others, although he held a good position with regard to railway and water carriage.
Mr. Houston also discussed a few minor points of a technical nature upon which there was no disagreement.
The interview was of a cordial character and did not occupy very long. Mr. Ibey personally appeared to have a strong leaning in favour of the movement, and a desire to see it in successful operation. Almost the last words he gave expression to were:—"Yes, you can rely upon me, and I give you the promise." The delegates then withdrew.
Mr. Aldrich (Red Lion Mill).Oamaru,
13th January, 1891.
Said he had no objection to adopting the eight hours system, and so far as it went it would make no difference to him. There, however, would be a difficulty with regard to the water-rate. He had to pay at present for two classes, day and night, each of twelve hours. There was no intermediate price and the cost of running eight-hours would be the same as twelve, and sixteen the same as twenty-four. (The Corporation By-laws were here produced and gone into). It may be possible to get three classes of payments instead of two, but on that the Council would have to be approached. If he could work the eight hours, of course extra payment would have to be made for the remaining four, and that gave rise to the question of wages, which he thought would be necessarily affected. He would adopt the eight hours system, if the matter of water could be arranged, although he believed that had he steam power, the cost would be about the same—all things considered—as he now paid. Mr. Ireland was in the same position regarding cost of power as himself, probably only the two mills in the Colony affected. However, if the general body of millowners adopted the eight hours, he would also go in with them. Thought there would be some trouble to place an extra amount on the price of a ton of flour, generally the increase in the market was either 5s., 10s. or 15s., and perhaps millowners might not see their way to make such an addition to the price. There was a good deal of cutting, and he hardly saw how it could be obviated. He would gladly work the twenty-four hours if he could, but that was not possible except upon special occasions. He would obtain and forward a copy of the by-laws to Mr. Houston.
The interview lasted about a quarter of an hour, and a good tone prevailed throughout.
Mr. Ireland (Anchor Mill).Oamaru,
13th January, 1891.
The interview with Mr. Ireland was of such a satisfactory nature that there is really nothing to record of an objectionable nature to the movement. Indeed, he has already practically adopted the system, and unless the new machinery was in, the mill would still he carried on the principle. He mentioned the number of apprentices engaged by some owners, and thought some method should be devised to limit them, but this and other matters of detail would necessarily have to be arranged in the future.
Mr. Meek (Crown Mill).Oamaru,
13th January, 1891.
Mr. Meek, upon the deputation making known the object of the visit, said he did not care if the eight-hours system came into force or not, providing that the question of wages is arranged. Nor did he care if his men belonged to a Union or not; he did not enquire any more than he would if they were Freemasons. He would have preferred that his own employees had come to him upon the subject, but did not suggest a better mode of procedure.
The interview was short and chiefly confined to the matter in hand.
14th January, 1891.
Mr. Steven said he did not see why the mills should not run on the eight hours system. The question of wages, he thought, would adjust itself. Had worked in the interests of the employees himself. The deputation could rely upon him and his support to the movement. He was a member of the Millers' Association, and moreover, his sympathy upon the matter of the eight hours was with the men. If the promises of the owners of the bigger mills were obtained, the smaller ones would fall in. The Operative Bakers' Society could materially assist the movement if' necessary, and there was no doubt of that. He knew that opposition from that Society would be immediately felt.
The interview was short and cordial
Mr. Mullin(Manager R. Anderson and Co.) Dunedin,
14th January, 1891.
Mr. Mullin stated that he saw nothing to prevent the movement coming into operation. There were certain difficulties some millers would have to encounter, and his mill at Woodhaugh would be some- page 12 what awkwardly situated, seeing he was only turning out very little flour—some 40 sacks in the twenty-four hours, and perhaps the adoption of the system may cause that mill to be shut down. There would, however, be no difficulty with the steam mills. He would fall in with the movements if the others did so. There was a meeting of the Otago Southland Association on the 19th inst., and the matter would be mentioned. With the eight hours, overtime is probable sometimes. There was a Masters' Association, and there had been no complaint made by the master bakers regarding it. Relatives working in what might be called family mills made it hard for millers who carried out their work by regular employees. He would attend the millowners' meeting on the 19th. There was no doubt they would look to Unionism for assistance and protection in carrying out the movement.
Mr. Harraway(Green Island).
14th January, 1891.
Mr. Harraway said he was a working miller himself, and understood the confining nature of the trade. Was in full sympathy with the movement, and was quite prepared to adopt it. The subject would be brought up for consideration at the coming conference of millowners.
14th January, 1891.
Mr. Christie said he was one of the first to mention the necessity of the eight hours system. Mr. Harraway, who was upon the line as himself, supported him. He did not see why millers should not have the eight hours, but thought for country (water) mills there must be some concession, because the water, in many instances, might be short for days, and at other times there might be plenty. Regarding the proposed conference between employers and employees, he thought five from each side would be better than three. At a meeting of mill-owners it had been decided that the movement should come into force from the 1st January, 1891. An owner could not be blamed for using a head of water during the dry season when he had it. There ought to be an arrangement between the owners and employees of country mills for this contingency. Mr. Christie then went on to say that he believed in the eight hours system, and was quite in favour of the mission of the deputation, but where water has to be depended upon there must be a line drawn—country mills could not come under the same rules as town establishments. Regarding the slack time and busy time, there must be a provision or agreement entered into, so that a man could not leave the mill after the slack period was over and the water likely to be plentiful. It was his wish to thoroughly work in favour of the system, and would give it every support. Where page 13 practical—that is, running month after month—will run the eight hours. In point of fact, it was carried out at present. We start at eight in the morning, and work until six o'clock at night, and out of that we have one hour for meals. On Saturday we knock off at half-past four. Mr. Christie then explained how the men were treated as regards holidays, and full and slack time, showing conclusively that the system was already in operation at his mill.
15th January, 1891.
Mr. McGill, after the deputation had made known the object of the interview, said he had no objection to the movement at all, but it should be general all through the Colony. There were mills (two) belonging to him, and sometimes they could not be worked in consequence of the want of water. This matter would have to be arranged. The men were always paid whether the full time was put in or not. He (Mr. McGill) was going to attend the conference of millowners, and as to the proposed meeting of employers and employees he would try and get the affair arranged. He was pleased to see the deputation to talk the matter over.
The interview was short and exceedingly cordial, and afterwards he took the deputation through the mill.
Fleming and Gilkison.Invercargill,
16th January, 1891.
The deputation in the first instance waited upon Mr. Gilkison, who affirmed that he had no objection to the introduction of the eight hours system. The rules which had been forwarded him he thought would have to be modified, as some men were worth more than others. He would carry out the system if other millers did so, and could see no objection. There was to be a meeting of millowners shortly, and the matter would come up. The idea of delegates from either side to meet and act in the affair was a good one. Mr. Fleming at this juncture entered the room and took up the conversation. He stated that he believed in the system. Thought millers should have the eight hours as well as other trades. "Indeed," he added "it must come sooner or later." He felt for men working twelve hours on a night shift. Would give the system his support, but it must be general. The firm knew that the country mills were often pushed for water. The Saturday half holiday would hardly work, as that day was a busy one for farmers.
The deputation, after further expressions of a favourable nature from Mr. Gilkison and Mr Fleming, withdrew.
21st January, 1891.
Mr. W. G. Aspinall,Secretary Canterbury Millers' Association.
Dear Sir—Our Delegates have returned from their mission throughout this Island, interviewing all master millers and managers of mills, and in every case they found employers ready to adopt the eight hours system, provided it is universal. We most respectfully suggest to you as a means of settling the question finally, that the Canterbury Millers' Association co-operate with the Otago and Southland Millers' Association, and appoint (say) two, three, or live delegates with power to settle the matter: to meet a similar number from this Society, at any time or place you might mention. We would also suggest that the Conference take place as early as possible in view of the busy season being close at hand. We may state that this mode of settlement is at the suggestion of the majority of employers.
I am, yours faithfully,
David Orme,General Secretary.
Mr. W. J. Love,Timaru,
21st January, 1891.Secretary Otago and Southland Millers' Associations, Dunedin.
Dear Sir—Our Delegates have returned from their mission throughout this Island, interviewing all master millers and managers of mills, and in every case they found employers ready to adopt the eight hours system, provided it is universal. We most respectfully suggest to you as a means of settling the question finally, that the Otago Millers' Association co-operate with the same Association of Canterbury, and appoint (say) two, three, or five delegates with power to settle the matter: to meet a similar number from this Society, at any time or place you might mention. We would also suggest that the Conference take place as early as possible in view of the busy season being close at hand. We may state that this mode of settlement is at the suggestion of the majority of employers.
I remain, yours faithfully,
David Orme, General Secretary.
23rd January, 1891.
To Mr. David Orme,King Street, Timaru.
Dear Sir—I have to acknowledge receipt of yours of 21st inst. In reply, I have to inform you that I have forwarded it on to Mr. Thos. Meek, the President of our Association, for his perusal and instruction. On receipt of his reply I will communicate with you again.
W. G. Aspinall, Hon. Sec. N.Z. Millers' Asssoc.
30th January, 1891.
Mr. David Orme, General SecretaryUnited Mill Employees' Society.
Dear Sir—I am directed to say, in reply to yours of 21st instant, that the matters referred to therein have already received careful consideration at the hands of our Society, and that at the meeting at which they were considered it was unanimously decided that every miller should be at liberty to work his mill and make arrangements with his men as he should think fit. Under these circumstances, our Society can see no benefit to be derived from a conference as suggested by you, but must leave it to each millowner to work his mill as he thinks best.
W. G. Aspinall,Hon. Sec. N.Z. Millers' Association.
Mr. D. Orme,Secretary United Engine-drivers and Mill Employees' Union.
Dear Sir—I am in receipt of your communication of the 21st ult., and have been instructed to call a special meeting of our Association, to be held on Wednesday next, the 4th February, for the purpose of considering the suggestion contained in your letter. Whatever may be the result of that meeting, you will be advised as soon as the meeting terminates. Wishing your Association every success.
William J. Love,Sec. Otago and Southland Millers' Association.
4th February 1891.
Mr. D. Orme,General Secretary United Millers, Engine-drivers, and Mill Employees' Union.
Dear Sir—A meeting of my Association was held this afternoon, and I was instructed to write to you for the purpose of asking you to forward me a list of the names of those millers who have signified their willingness to adopt the eight hours system. As you say nothing about the millers in the North Island, would you let me know if you have visited them also. For, unless the system is adopted throughout both Islands, those who adopt it will be at a disadvantage and the old arrangements will have to be reverted to. Two of the millers present at our meeting stated that they never saw your delegates, and we know of several others. It seems a pity that they did not see all the millers personally, they certainly called at nearly every mill, I believe, but the employees can hardly express the opinions of a master.page 16
My Association think that you are hardly acting fairly to them in putting the onus of a refusal to agree to the eight hours system upon them only. To do the thing properly it would be necessary to have delegates from the North Island also, for we have to compete with them in business and wish to be placed on an equal footing.
As the further consideration of the question has been deferred till the 19th inst. when we have our usual monthly meeting, would you kindly let me have all the information at your command before that date.
William J. Love, Secretary,Otago and Southland Millers' Association.
16th February, 1891.
Mr. W. J. Love,Secretary Otago and Southland Millers' Association, Dunedin.
Dear Sir—I am in receipt of yours of the 4th inst. Enclosed please find list of those millers who have signified their willingness to adopt the eight hour system. Re North Island, the latest communication we have from there is, "That the employees of the Auckland mills have waited on their employers, who have also stated that they are willing to introduce the same system." In your letter you mention that two of the members of your Association were not waited upon by our delegates, but you don't mention either of their names. We may state that our delegates waited on Messrs. Webster and White, and made an appoinment with Mr. Webster to meet him at his office between 10 and 10.30 a.m., on 17th ult. On calling at his office at that time, Mr. Webster had gone out, leaving word with his clerk to the effect that he would not see the delegates, as he declined to give any definite answer until after the regular meeting of the Association. Mr. Runciman was not called upon, but we had the assurance of his son that he was quite agreeable to the eight hour system.
Our delegates called at the office of Mr. Hay, in Oamaru, but he had gone out of town, and we don't know of any others who were not visited, but would like to get names of those firms you refer to. We cannot see how we have treated your Association unfairly in any way, as it has always been our strongest desire to bring about an amicable understanding without any friction, hence our suggestion for a conference to be held, which we think is the most satisfactory way of settling the matter. We would again urge you to use your best endeavours to bring about such conference, so that the whole matter may be thoroughly discussed. I enclose you a copy of reply from the Canterbury Millers' Association to our letter, which you will see page 17 is very unsatisfactory, and our Society think they have been unfairly treated in the refusal of the Association to grant a conference. Awaiting your early reply.
I remain, yours faithfully,
David Orme, Secretary.
19th February, 1891.
Mr. D. Orme,Gen. Secretary, N.Z. Operative Engine Drivers and Mill Employees' Union.
Dear Sir—At a meeting of the Otago and Southland Millers' Association held this afternoon, your letter of the 16th ult., was considered. I have been instructed to convey to you the result of the discussion which took place, and which is embodied in the following motion:—"That the Mill Employees' Union be informed in reply to their request for a conference to consider the eight hour system, that this Association cannot see that a conference would be of any benefit, as it is of opinion that it should be left to each millowner to work his mill and make arrangements with his employees as he thinks best. But that the Association is of opinion that it would be for the benefit of all concerned, if arrangements could be made by which all the mills in the Colony should commence work at 6 a.m. on Monday morning, and close down at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon."
Trusting that any arrangements that will be made may prove eminently satisfactory to both masters and men.
William J. Love, Gen. Sec.,Otago and Southland Millers' Association.
17th February, 1891.
Dear Sirs—Enclosed please find copies of our letters to Secretary New Zealand Mülers' Association, and his reply to same re our suggestion proposing a conference to consider the introduction of the eight hours system in New Zealand flour mills.
When our delegates waited upon you personally, you expressed yourself favourably towards the proposed conference, and we would like very much to know if such is still your intention, as we have reason to believe you were not consulted before the original of the enclosed copy was written.
I am, yours faithfully,
David Orme, Secretary.
20th February, 1891.
To Mr. D. Orme,Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir,—We beg to acknowledge receipt of yours of 17th inst.
As we started eight hours on the 1st January, and were forced to stop on account of the extra expense we were put over our neighbours, and as we told our employees, that when other millers start eight hours we will again revert to that practice; we do not wish to be mixed up in any way with meetings on the subject.
K. G. Turner.
Mr. D. Orme,
28th February, 1891.Secretary Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—We are duly in receipt of yours of 17th inst. and note contents. We have informed our employees of our intentions regarding the eight hour system; and seeing the aggressive action some of the members of your Society have taken against our mill, in interviewing our customers and requesting them to refrain from purchasing our flour, we must decline the conference you propose.
Yours faithfully,Timaru Milling Company, Ltd.,
(P. W. Eiby, Manager).
19th February, 1891.
To Mr. David Orme,Secretary U.M.E.D. and M.E. Society.
Dear Sir—Yours dated 17th inst. duly received, contents noted. In reply, the writer consulted some of the large roller mill managers in this and the North Island about the desirability of working eight hours, and they all gave me to understand that they intended to work their mills on the same lines now as in the past, viz., two shifts. This being the case, and in order to be enabled to compete successfully with our opposition, our Directory have decided to work the Atlas Mills on lines satisfactory to themselves and their employees. Any man in our employ who does not feel at liberty to accept our hours of labour and rate of wages, will have a perfect right to retire from our employment.
Wm. Evans,(Managing Director Evans & Co., Ltd.)
February 20th, 1891
Mr. David Orme,Secretary Mill Employees' Society, N.Z., Timaru.
Dear Sir—We have your favour of the 17th inst., and as we are not members of the N.Z. Millers' Association, we were not consulted (as you correctly suppose) before the answer of Mr. Aspinall to your letter was sent.
We are still favourable to the eight-hour system being adopted provided it is so universally, but regarding holding a conference on the subject we do not think it would be of any use, unless all or nearly all the mills were represented; and as the N.Z. Millers' Association represents such a large amount of milling power, and have through their Secretary intimated their decision as adverse to holding a conference, we do not see how any resolutions come to at a conference from which they were absent could be made applicable.
We may just add that an equitable arrangement of payment per hour is what we think would be found to suit best.
23rd February, 1891.
To Mr. D. Orme,Timaru.
Dear Sir—As some mills are differently situated to others, I think it advisable to carry out the N.Z. Millers' Association's idea: every miller to be free At the same time I quite agree with you, eight hours is long enough for any man to work.
4th March, 1891.
D. Orme, Esq.Secretary Mill Employees' Society,
Dear Sir—Your letter of 25th ult. with enclosures duly to hand, both of which have had our consideration. As the Millers' Association have apparently decided not to take part in a conference, we cannot see any good would be obtained by holding one.
Yours truly,Kaiapoi Produce and Milling Coy.
(Per J. M.)
5th March, 1891.
Mr. David Orme,Secretary Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—Tours of 17th inst. to hand regarding proposed conference to consider the introduction of the eight hour system in New Zealand Flour Mills.
We understand the proposed conference is not likely to be held, and, under these circumstances, it is scarcely worth while our expressing any opinion upon the matter.
Yours truly,Wood, Bros.
7th April, 1891.Executive United Millers, Engine Drivers and Mill Employees.
Gentlemen—I have much pleasure in forwarding to you the following resolution passed at a meeting of this council on February 19th.
"That this Council gives a general support to the Millers' Society, in their endeavour to obtain eight hours as a day's work, and that we do all we can in every legitimate way to assist them."
Hoping you will soon be successful in obtaining this and other reforms in connection with your trade.
R. Slater,Secretary, Otago T. and L. Council.
10th April, 1891.The Secretary Mill Employees' Society, Timaru.
Dear Sir—Your delegate to the above Council having mentioned the fact, that there is likely to be trouble between the millowners and your Society over the eight hours movement, I have the honour by direction to request you to furnish the Council with all the information you possess, in order to enable the Council to take steps to assist your Society. Awaiting an early reply,
A. Andrews, Secretary.