I quite understand that the Department of Labour must receive many letters from individuals and that many of these would come from perhaps irresponsible parties. But it would seem to me that a resolution, under the seal of the grand council of a labour organization, representing the whole province, calling for an absolute repeal of the Act in so far as it affects that province, is one that the minister should not ignore, inasmuch as it should indicate to the department that there was something radically wrong in the working of the Act. I am not prepared to speak off-hand with respect to the Act itself, but I do know that the miners of Nova Scotia consider they are labouring under a very serious disadvantage because of its operation. They say precisely what President Gompers of the American Federation of Labour says respecting injunctions, namely, that the injunctions take from organized labour the only implement they have for obtaining redress of their wrongs. The miners of Nova Scotia point to many defects in the Act. In the first place, if a board of conciliation is called for by the men, they choose one arbitrator and the management chooses another.
These two meet and if they cannot agree then a third arbitrator must, under the wording of the Act, be chosen by the Labour Department. The labour men in my county object very strongly to that provision of the Act because they say it leaves a string upon the arbitration board, one end of which is in the hands of the Labour Department, and they say that the Act would be very materially improved if this third man were to be chosen by a judge of the Supreme Court rather, than by the Labour Department. In this way they claim that the third arbitrator would be chosen absolutely free from any influence or connivance on the part of the Labour Department. They suggest that another amendment would improve the Act. There is no compulsory means of causing a board of conciliation to view the workings of a mine for instance. We know that very frequently boards of conciliation are composed of men who although they may be able lawyers, or
professors of note, have no practical knowledge of the working of a mine, and in one or two instances, if I am correctly advised, the board has refused to go and view the workings. The union in my county suggests that a provision be inserted in the Act that either one party or the other can compel the board to go and view the workings.
A third amendment suggested and it seems to me most reasonable, is that if one party to the dispute fails to appear, as has happened in some cases, then the verdict shall go to the party who has called for the board and who appears, in precisely the same manner as does the verdict in a civil suit, if the defence does not appear there shall be a verdict by default.
A fourth amendment, and it is of vital importance to the man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, is a change in the fees allowed witnesses. Under the present Act the fees allowed for witnesses are about one-third of what the men would earn if they were enabled to do their day's work instead of having to appear before the board.
Topic: SUPPLY-CANADIAN RAILWAYS.
Subtopic: THE LEMIEUX LAW.