May 6, 1903

IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. PUTTEE.

They are only incorporated for the purposes of the Compulsory Arbitration Act. .

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

I am not discussing that point, but what I am saying is that many people hold that they should be held quite as responsible as the employers of labour.

I may also say that in Australia, as far as the matter of conciliation is concerned, there is a difficulty. Sums of money have been paid to persons who have acted on the boards of conciliation. It was discovered that these men derived by reason of their being selected as members of the boards of conciliation, a larger amount of pay than they could otherwise make, and that by reason of that they adopted means of creating and fomenting strikes and difficulties between capital and labour. For that reason the people objected to those boards of conciliation almost altogether. This is the objection they found to boards of conciliation in Australia, and I would be very sorry indeed if the conditions are the same in Canada as they are in Australia, because, if the conditions are similar the same difficulty would occur in this country. The hon. minister stated to-day that this Bill is based largely on the lines of a Bill introduced in the United States. If that be true, then the conditions will arise here perhaps that have arisen in the United States. For instance, when a difficulty occurs between the railway companies and their employees and both object to take part in a conciliation to settle the difference, I presume that under such circumstances the Bill would allow the Department of Labour to have a compulsory investigation irrespective of either or both of the parties. If the result of the deliberations of the department is published in the ' Labour Gazette ' in order to create a public opinion against the party who dissents from the award, I cannot see anything particularly wrong about that. If a railway company does what is right to its employees they can have nothing to fear from fair and reasonable investigation. On the other hand if the employees are not willing to enter into conciliation, and if on investigation the government finds that the employees are to blame, then it would be in the interest of the country that such a public opinion would be created as would compel the employees to resume their occupation. Let me give an instance of what has occurred right here in the city of Ottawa. There is a difficulty between the trackmen and the Canada Atlantic Railway Company. I understand that two responsible gentlemen offered their services to the Canada Atlantic Railway officials to try and bring about a fair settlement and that the offer was refused. Now, wliat followed ? I do not know of this personally, but I am told it, and if I am wrong I shall be willing to withdraw it; I am told that all the heavier engines of the Canada Atlantic Railway are in the shops to day, that the company is afraid to trust them on the line because the track is not in the condition it would be if the trackmen

were continuously at work. If that be true, then some interference should take place on the part of the Department of Labour, because it has gone beyond the question as between the Canada Atlantic Railway and the trackmen, and loss of life and accidents may occur at any time. If the company is not reasonable and will not have their affairs investigated, then they should be shown up in their proper light before the people of this country. I do not think that the Bill goes far enough to enable the board to get sufficient information to arrive at a proper conclusion.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

Turn to section twelve.

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L-C

Andrew B. Ingram

Liberal-Conservative

Mr. INGRAM.

Section twelve reads

12. For the purpose of such inquiry the board shall have all the power of summoning before it any witnesses, and of requiring them to give evidence on oath, or on solemn affirmation, if they are persons entitled to affirm in civil matters, and produce such documents and things as the board deems requisite to the full investigation of the matters into which it is inquiring, and shall have the same power to enforce the attendance of witnesses, and to compel them to give evidence as is vested in any court of record in civil cases ; but no such witness shall be compelled to answer any question, by his answer to which he might render himself liable to a criminal prosecution.

It would appear from this that they might obtain the necessary information to arrive at a fair conclusion. I am not a lawyer, but from my reading of the Bill it would appear that there is no provision to enforce the findings of the board because there are no penalties provided. However, when the Bill comes up in Committee we will have greater scope to discuss its different provisions. I want to assure hon. gentlemen in this House that so far as the railway employees of this country are concerned, this is the first instance of any legislation being conceded to them without their specially asking for it and in which they are considered exclusively the only workmen that should be legislated for. I do not know whether or not this parliament has the right to legislate as regards matters affecting the manufacturing industries, or whether that is within the purview of the provinces. I know that in the province of Ontario we have what they call a Mutual Arbitration Act, but I am bound to say that so far as I know that Act is practically a dead letter. It can only be acted upon by mutual consent, and to my knowledge there never has been a case where, by mutual consent, it was put in operation. However, that may be, if the provinces have power over these matters, then if the legislatures are not doing their duty they must be held responsible to the people.

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. F. D. MONK (Jacques Cartier).

We are bound to give to any legislation tending to improve the relations between employers and employees all the help we possibly can.

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IND

Arthur W. Puttee

Independent Labour

Mr. PUTTEE.

In that light, there are. some features of this Bill to which I would call the attention of the Minister of Labour. In section 2 we have the provision that this law will apply to all railway companies, whether under the jurisdiction of the parliament of Canada or of the legislature of any province. I question very much whether we have the right in this parliament to legislate in case a difficulty should arise between the employees of a railway under provincial jurisdiction and the company operating that railway. At first sight, I do not think we have that right, and it seems to me to be a matter upon which we should have the opinion of the Department of Justice. In case any difficulties arose between railway companies under the control of the local legislature and their employees, upon what ground could we intervene or bring the machinery provided in this Bill to bear V This leads me to submit this further consideration to the hon. minister. We have had no legislation of this kind, so far as I am aware, previous to 1900, and it seems to me doubtful whether we have any jurisdiction at all to provide legislation for the settlement of railway disputes between employers and employees. These difficulties arise in connection with the contract for the lease and hire of work, and that contract falls under the subsection of section 92 of the Confederation Act, which leaves to the local legislatures everything which has reference to property and civil rights. The difficulty which exists to-day in the city of Montreal, is one arising out of the conditions connected with the lease and hire of work, and I question very much whether this parliament has any jurisdiction in regard to matters of that kind. I suppose it might be claimed that under the general terms of the Confederation Act, which says that the parliament of Canada has the right to legislate for the peace, order, and good government of Canada, we might possibly intervene ; but outside of these words, I think all difficulties connected with labour disputes are under the jurisdiction of the local legislature, and that has evidently been thought to be the case, since the hon. member who has just taken his seat has referred to the measure on the statute-book of the province of Ontario relating to this very subject. I do not by any means claim to decide the point, but I think it is one wed worthy of the consideration of the Department of Justice before we go any further in the consideration of this Bill. I wonder whether the hon. Minister of Labour lias considered the wording of chapter 24 of 6364 Victoria, the Conciliation Act of 1900. It seems to me that everything which is provided for in this Bill is equally provided for in that statute. The machinery may be a little different, the wording is different, but the same object is attained. Section 4 -of that statute says :

Where a difference exists or is apprehended between an employer or any class of employers and workmen, or between different classes of workmen, the minister may, if he thinks fit, exercise all or any of the following powers.

This Bill makes the same provision, except that its machinery is restricted to railway companies. There is some difference in the organization of the conciliation commission and afterwards the arbitration board ; but if experience has taught the Department of Labour that the particular machinery provided for in this Bill is better machinery, why not modify the statute of 1900, and make it serviceable for everybody? -because strikes and labour difficulties are likely to occur between all classes of employers and employees ; and I do not see why one kind of machinery should be provided for in the statute of 1900, applicable to difficulties that may occur, for instance, between shippers and longshoremen, and another and better system of machinery, applicable only to railway companies and their employees. There is another feature of this Bill which I think we ought to consider very carefully before we pass it. 'lhe machinery it provides for will be expensive, there is no doubt about that. In the first place, the conciliation commission may be entirely organized by the minister himself.

1 do not know whether that is the interpretation of the hon. minister ; but, as I read the Bill, if both parties to the dispute refuse to take part in the nomination of a member of the conciliation commission, the minister then has the jurisdiction to name them himself, as well as to name the third member of the commission ; so that there will be a conciliation commission named entirely by the minister. I presume that of course he would endeavour to choose members who would represent all the interests affected ; still the facts remain that the minister or the department of the government alone would name the commission, a commission that would act at the expense of the Dominion government. But what would that commission do ? Its functions are merely of an investigating and conciliatory nature. It makes an investigation; it ascertains the facts. Have we not a department, costly enough, which at the present moment has power to ascertain the facts ? Without naming three men or incurring extra expense, the Minister of Labour has the entire machinery of his department under his control, and can ascertain the facts just as well as they could be ascertained by this special process. And that work is done at the present moment, as my hon. friend from Toronto says, by the deputy minister. In fact, as soon as that official sees one of these difficulties dawning, it is his duty to investigate the facts. But apart from that, I think he has the power to ascertain the facts under oath, in such manner as he sees fit. Then, in case the recommendations of this commission

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are not accepted by the parties, we have the action of the arbitration board. That board of arbitration would unquestionably be still more expensive. As I read this Bill, the functions of the arbitration board are very much' the same as those of the conciliation committee, but their form of procedure is a little different. Instead of saying to the parties we have ascertained the facts and think you should agree on such terms, the arbitration board proceeds with a little more solemnity to ascertain the facts and then makes a report. It does not deliver a sentence of arbitration binding on the parties but reports to the ministers, and that report is published and communicated to the parties. These proceedings might have more weight than the proceedings of the conciliation committee but not much more, because the members of the conciliation committee are qualified and will probably be chosen to form the board of arbitration. We would therefore have two proceedings, held before two bodies, having different names but with very similar attributions, and I venture to say that these proceedings would lead to no binding result. There is the crucial point. The sentence of the arbitrator binds nobody at all, and we are simply making additional unnecessary expense, whereas at present the department has all the powers necessary to ascertain the facts, and the minister himself or those he employs have all the necessary authority and weight required to advise and suggest a remedy. It seems to me therefore that by this Bill we are simply introducing expensive machinery without much result. I listened attentively to what the hon. member for Winnipeg (Mr. Puttee) said as to the necessity of these arbitration committees or boards rendering sentences which would be binding on the parties. I understand the hesitation of the hon. Minister of Labour to introduce such legislation. It is something very new and about which a great deal may be said on both sides. I believe with the hon. member for Winnipeg that, harsh as it may appear and as it might sometimes act in certain cases, it will be necessary for us, in view of the great labour troubles upon which we have just merely entered, to adopt some such principle in our legislation, in order to compel a settlement of these labour disputes. I say all this, subject to the doubts I have expressed regarding our jurisdiction, on which we should have the opinion of the hon. Minister of Justice. As regards provincial railways l am afraid that we would come into conflict at once with the local jurisdiction. But on general principles, at the stage where conciliation and arbitration would be suggested as a remedy wo have no jurisdiction over labour disputes. It is only where the peace, order and good government of Canada are concerned, as for instance in the existing conditions at Montreal, we might intervene.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL (Hon. Sir William Mulock).

Except with the consent of the House, I have no right to make any further remarks, but as some hon. gentlemen have evidently, by their observations, invited me to reply, I shall try and dispose of their criticisms. In the first place, my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, and mv hon. friend from East Grey (Mr. Sproule) seem to think that, under the Conciliation Act of to-day we could proceed as this Bill proposes we should. I endeavoured to make it clear in my opening remarks that the American legislation and incidentally our Conciliation Act have the inherent weakness that they can not be put into force execept with the consent of the parties. Under the Conciliation Act, no committee, no board of arbitration could be appointed except with the consent of the parties. Therefore these hon. gentlemen will see that we have no statute enabling the government to refer a matter of this kind to arbitration.

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I was fully aware of that, and pointed it out in the course of my remarks. But the point I made is this, that in the present Bill, as in the Conciliation Act, you are appointing a tribunal which will not have the power of enforcing the awards it may make.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

At all events, if my hon. friend did not refer to the Conciliation Act, his friends beside him did. As regards the contention of my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, that because the two parties are unwilling to come together, therefore it is improbable that any good will come from his measure, I would refer him for his answer to the anthracite coal strike arbitration. You could scarcely find two parties more opposed to conciliation or arbitration, when President Roosevelt undertook to bring them together. If there had been statutory power, it is doubtful if these two could have been brought together, but by virtue of his high office, the President was able to bring pressure upon them and, practically against their consent, bring about arbitration.

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CON

Edward Frederick Clarke

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. CLARKE.

Is it not a fact that the operatives were always willing to submit their case to arbitration ?

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

That may be, but I understand that long before the proceedings were given to the public, Carroll Wright, the editor of the ' Labour Gazette ' and the 1 Bulletin ' of Washington, was acting as an emissary on behalf of the United States government, endeavouring by solicitation and argument to induce the parties to come together. What was given to the public was not the commencement of the difficulties by any means. But in the end an arbitration was brought about. There was no power to compel either party to submit to the award except the pressure of

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CON

Frederick Debartzch Monk

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MONK.

public opinion, and under tbe influence of that pressure, the award has been practically acquiesced in. While on that point, just to encourage my hon. friend the leader of the opposition, to belive that there is something good in that measure, I will read what Mr. Francis Adams has said with reference to the Massachusetts railway strike :

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CON

Robert Laird Borden (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BORDEN (Halifax).

I am afraid I did not make myself clear. I endeavoured to say as distinctly as I could that I think the object to be aimed at in efforts of this kind is to get the parties to agree to a tribunal whose award they will respect.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

Quite so. I quite agree with my hon. friend (Mr. Borden, Halifax) that it would be most desirable if we could get them to agree in the first instance. But that is not possible. *When they are at war and holding each other at arms' length, an agreement is difficult to obtain. If, at that stage, some third party intervenes and brings them together, by degrees the pressure of public opinion and of the situation brings about peace. In the case in question, with which I am going to trouble the House, the strike on the Boston and Maine Railway, neither party consented. But the board of arbitrators for the state of Massachusetts had power to hold an arbitration. This is the history of the proceedings :

At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 12th of February, 1877, all the locomotive engineers and firemen in the employ of the Boston anil Maine Railroad Company stopped work in a body, abandoning their trains. The move was not altogether unexpected, but the operation or the road was seriously interfered with. The commissioners did not at first intervene, neither party calling upon them. Indeed, both parties were unwilling so to do

I commend this to my hou. friend the leader of the opposition :

-for each was apprehensive, apparently, of adverse action. During several days, accordingly, the commissioners preserved an attitude of silent observation. After the lapse of a reasonable period, however, the board concluded that it was plainly time to recognize the fact that the public was suffering serious inconvenience ; for then the Boston and Maine Railroad was, as it still is, one of the principal arteries of eastern New England. The president and directors of the company and the employees of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers were accordingly notified' that the board proposed to take a hand in the business. This it proceeded to do, and immediate investigation was notified. Both parties appeared, for, without confessing itself in the wrong, neither party could help doing so, and professed a perfect willingness to submit their cases. No suggestion of a readiness to abide by any decision that might be given thereon was either asked for or given ; but the board proceeded to hear witnesses and to elicit the facts. The inquiry was continued through three days ; and, on the 21st of February, the report of the board was made public, appearing in full in all the newspapers of that date. In it the commissioners, after carefully and judicially sifting

out the essential facts from the evidence submitted, placed the responsibility for the trouble where the weight of evidence showed it belonged ; and thereupon proceeded to make such recommendations as in its judgment the exe-genpies called for. The effect was immediate. An authentic record was before the community, and public opinion, crystallizing, made itself decisively felt. It is not necessary to enter further into the history and merits-the rights and the wrongs-of that particular struggle. My object is merely to call attention to what was then done, and done successfully, as constituting the nearest practical approach consistent with our American political and social system to what is known as ' compulsory arbitration.' It was compulsory inquiry only, and an appeal thereon to the reason and sense of right of all concerned. Reliance was placed in an enlightened sense of right of all concerned, and an informed public opinion.

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Hon. S@

There was no power, I suppose to enforce the decision ?

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The TOSTMASTER GENERAL.

None whatever.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

Nothing but public opinion. Neither party was willing and neither party consented. But the board at the right time, at the psychological moment, intervened, brought about an inquiry, made recommendations, gave them to the public and threw the responsibiliy for further trouble upon the party who refused to act upon them.

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CON

William Rees Brock

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROCK.

After both parties were financially exhausted.

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The POSTMASTER GENERAL.

The hon. gentleman (Mr. Brock) may have information on that point, but I have none except what appears here.

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May 6, 1903