Mr. B. M. BRITTON (Kingston).
I hope the House will allow me to make a reference to the strike at Kingston. Not that I desire to force myself on the House, but I think I ought to state the facts of the case. The strike was sudden and entirely unexpected by the proprietors of the Kingston Locomotive Works. The labourers made a
demand against the company for 10 cents per day increase in their wages. I may add that the strike is entirely confined to the labourers and does not extend to the other classes of workmen. The labourers were already paid from $1.20 to $1.65 per day. The superintendent was out of town, and the proprietors asked that the limit of ten days-which was given in the ultimatum of the labourers, after which they declared they would go on strike if their demand was not acceded to-be extended. They had every reason to believe that this request for an extension would be granted because of the very pleasant relations which hitherto had existed between them and the men. However, no answer was given, and on the 16th the men went on strike, which involved practically the closing of all the works, as the machinists could not work when the labourers did not.
While my sympathies would naturally be; with the men, if they are underpaid, I think it but fair that I should put before the House the case of the proprietors, as it was stated in last night's papers by Mr. Birmingham, one of the managers :
We received no reply to the answer we sent the union or any intimation that our answer was unsatisfactory until we found that the men were on strike. We have no fight with the machinists. The premium system is now in operation in all the shops. The men have asked for it. Through its workings the amount of wages paid the men has increased 17 per cent since January. In some cases we have already decided upon an increase. In other cases, we have decided not to grant an increase. We propose to pay as much as similar labourers get in other shops. It seems extraordinary that we should be singled out by the unions, when the Kingston foundry pays only $1.10 a day for the same work as we pay $1.20 for. The fact is, we are paying higher wages to labourers than similar labourers in other institutions are receiving. We told the committee this morning that the men could stay out or come back, just as they liked. A committee representing the striking union waited upon the company this morning and were given an audience. President Flanigan explained that the company's reply to their demands had been favourably considered, but the company's 'action in discharging one Connolly yesterday had precipitated the trouble. The union thought other men would be discharged to-day, more next day and so on, until the power of the union would be broken.
That is practically the position of tbe matter to-day. While I admit that the Minister of Labour, under tbe recent Act, lias no authority to act in a matter of this kind, it seems to me that bis mediation might very well be offered. Although tbe labouring men believe that their wages are too small, these wages are larger than are paid for similar work in other shops, and the employers declare that they have decided upon a certain advance, so that very likely, even without any intervention, the trouble will come to a speedy termination. But I agree with tbe bon. member for Winnipeg that the best way to settle these difficulties is to Mr. BHITTON.
act promptly, and I hope that the acting Minister of Labour will offer his services as mediator at this juncture and that tbe difficulty will be brought to a close.
Topic: SUPPLY-TAXATION OF CANADIAN PACIFIC RAILWAY LANDS.
Subtopic: STRIKE AT KINGSTON LOCOMOTIVE WORKS.