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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Can Wages be Increased?

Can Wages be Increased?

Before I proceed to outline amendments let me remind you by a few facts and figures of the limits which circumscribe the sphere "within which Industrial Arbitration, however perfect, can benefit the workers by increased wages.

No Arbitration Act can create a Fortunatus' purse out of which the rewards of labour can be indefinitely increased. No Arbitration Act can increase the Stock of wealth out of which increased wages may be paid. If then it can be shown that our present national industrial income is such as makes impossible any marked improvement in the remuneration of the wago-eamers, we muse first seek some means of increasing our production before we set ourselves to increase our distribution of wealth. This increased production can be effected only by an increased efficiency on the part both of the entrepreneur and the employee. To this topic i will return again. Meanwhile let me give you a few figures to show the means available in New Zealand to improve the workers' lot, and the limits of this improvement. Here is a return prepared by the Registrar-General, which is of great interest, and on? to which I shall refer frequently in this part of my address:—

Estimated Wage-Earnings of the People.

Numbers of persons given as shown by results of Census taken in April. 1906.

Males.
class Occupations. Number of Wage-earnes 19 6, Average annual Earning Aggregate Earnings 1906.
£ £
I Professional 12,221 144.8 1,769600
II Domestic 6701 79.3 531,400
III Comraercial 29.003 115 9 3,361,400
IV Transport 24.24 108.0 2616.200
V Industril 85,290 94.1 8,025,800
VI Agricultural pastoral mineral and other primary producers 63,624 73.3 4663,600
VII Indefinite 6,020 95.0 571,900
227,083 94.8 21 539,900
Females.
£ £
I Professional 8,008 67.2 538,100
II Domestic 27.696 37.8 1,020,500
III Commercial 6,424 77.9 243,700
IV Transport 731 59.8 48,700
V Industrial 15,316 49.1 641,200
VI Agricultural pastoral mineral, and other primary producers 1,932 22.4 43,800
VII Indefinite 3,182 60.0 159,100
63,189 42.3 2,671,200
Totals.
£
Males 21,538,900
Females 2,671,200
£24,212 100

E. J. von Dadelszen

Registrar General. Registrar-General's Office, Wellington.

From this return it will be [unclear: seen] there are 280,272 wage-earner of all kinds in this country, and this return shows their average wages—wazes which in the majority of cases [unclear: might] stand an increment. Suppose [unclear: them] benevolent Court decreed that all [unclear: wage] earners should have a [unclear: shalling] more—not a very magnificent [unclear: increase] it would require an annual sum of [unclear: no] less than £4,528,213, and if the [unclear: court] was in a still more kindly humour [unclear: and] gave the wage-earners 2s a day [unclear: more,] it would require only £9,053,486 per annum.