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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

Some Strikes Penal

Some Strikes Penal.

None of this legislation confines itself to the English system of distinguishing between strikes that directly cause great damage or privation to the people and page 16 those which do not. Yet, no doubt, this is the true principle. There i6, for in[unclear: stance], a very strong reason why the [unclear: ght] suppliers, or water suppliers, or milk suppliers, of a great city, who strike, Knowing that their action win endanger the life, health, or safety of the whole community, should be held guilty of a penal offence—but the same Considerations scarcely apply, for instance, to aerated water makers or brewery hands.. In the former case of the milk suppliers, few reasonable men would deny that a strike, with a knowledge of its cruel results, should be considered a disgraceful act, and a penal offence, especially with a Court open to the men—while in the latter case of the brewery hands as the strikers would feel that nobody would suffer more than a title inconvenience—the offence of striking has no such gravity.

The view however, is extending that all strikes inflict some loss upon the Community—that they are a breach of that implied understanding between the great interdependent classes that if one class will do its part the other classes will do theirs. Strikes are in this aspect a desertion of duty. They are, moreover, a breach of industrial peace, and just [unclear: as]private assault involves both the individuals concerned and the State, so with strikes—they now partake of both a civil and penal character.

As regards the penalty for striking, I gave full reasons at Wanganui for objecting to imprisonment, except, of course, in such extreme cases as those made penal by the English Act of 1875, and I need not repeat my argument here. It is curious to observe that in the evolution of this compulsory arbitration in the different Australian States and perhaps in New Zealand, the more numerous and defiant the strikes and strikers the more and more stringent has the law been made against them. It is sufficient to take for illustration New South Wales. The result of the irritating defiant and numerous strikes there has been to finally place upon the statute book the most penal and drastic strike prevention law in existence.