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3-088 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,Sydney Morning Herald,un
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Connell, 1980
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The Attorney-General in opening the case pointed out to the jury that this was the first case of the kind which had occurred, and it was their duty to decide with strict impartiality between the employer and the employed. Mr. Parkes, he said, deserved great credit for the promptitude with which he had resisted this attempt at coercion. Nothing could be more injurious than that the practice of striking for wages should be suffered to grow into strength in this colony. It must be nipped in the bud. Combinations either of employers or of the employed to oppress the other class were equally illegal. ... Either class could meet and discuss the rate of remuneration with a view to future operations, but they could not interrupt or affect existing engagements. The defendants might have terminated their agreements by giving the term of notice (a fortnight) required by the custom of the trade, and they might have lawfully arranged not to reengage unless their demands for increased wages were complied with. But it could never be tolerated that any set of men, believing their employer to be in their power, should determine upon leaving their employment at once unless he at once succumbed to them. ... It was for the benefit of workmen themselves as well as of the masters that this system of striking should be nipped in the bud. It was quite impossible that the colony could continue to progress in industrial prosperity unless there was harmony and confidence between employers and employed.
Henry Parkes, proprietor and publisher of the Empire newspaper ... said he received on the 7th. January the following document from Cunningham (the father of the chapel) "Resolved that it is the unanimous opinion of this chapel that according to the recognised principles of the business, and according to the unanimous opinion of the members of the profession in this colony, we are justified in the demand (for more money for specialised work) now made, and that the refusal of payment is tantamount to instant dismissal. We therefore agree to accept it as such, and to discontinue working in this office until such time as our just demand is complied with." Witness caused the hands to be summoned by his overseer to meet him (witness) in his room. He there explained to them his willingness to withdraw the objectionable matter - the tabular form of setting up the land sales. He also pointed out that the amount involved was one of small importance, not more than 35s in upwards of one hundred pounds, and that he trusted wholly to the decision of his overseer. But he offered according to the principle laid down in Savage on printing [probably James Savage, An Account of the London Daily Newspapers and the manner in which they are conducted..., London, 1811] to call a meeting of the employers and employed to settle the matter. [171] He insisted, however, upon the resolution, so objectionable in its tone, should be first withdrawn. One of the defendants proposed accordingly to take this course, and Purcell seconded the proposition, but Bone exclaimed that this was not the way to settle - they were contending for a principle and must have another meeting. . . They all left. . . A number of them were found in a public-house near the office, and they sent word back that they would return if witness would pay the money and apologise for an expression which he had used characterising the movement and the resolution as an attempt to override his authority and to coerce him into compliance with their demands - equal to highway robbery.
Mr. Bone stated that whatever of prominence he had assumed in this matter had been forced upon him by circumstances. When he came to the Empire office, he found it in a state of turmoil, in consequence of the men not being prepared to assent to a code of laws which Mr. Parkes was desirous of having put in force. Before he had been in the Empire office one hour he found that it was a hotbed of discontent. He was not long allowed to remain neutral, for the next day after his employment Mr. Parkes withdrew his code of rules and named six men of whom he (Bone) was one to assist in drawing up a code according to the London rules and practice. At this time Mr. McKelly (the overseer) was absent in Melbourne, and finding on his return some changes, he expressed his dislike of these changes in strong terms, telling the defendant that "He would have none of his d- London notions." All attempts at arrangements were met with abuse and threats of dismissal. As to the.. . circumstances.. . which were conceived to militate most strongly against himself, this defendant explained them thus: - He had resisted the proposition before Mr. Parkes to withdraw the resolution, not because he wished in the slightest degree to perpetuate the misunderstanding, but because he thought that if the resolution was to be withdrawn it should be withdrawn in the regular way, and this proposition was decidedly irregular.
(The jury found a verdict of guilty against all the defendants.)
The Chief Justice said ... he felt called upon to make ... reference to an advertisement which he had seen in the newspapers purporting to come from the "Operatives of Sydney". According to this advertisement these parties made common cause with these defendants, calling for the payment of subscriptions to indemnify them for the proceedings which had been instigated against them for this "alleged conspiracy". ... This, in fact, was a proceeding calling imperatively for the strongest reprehension from the Bench. The authors of this advertisement, calling themselves the "operatives of Sydney", who had dared to make common cause with parties duly convicted, and to set themselves against the law, who had presumed to designate that as alleged which, after a solemn investigation before a Court and jury, had been found to be proved, would if they could be brought to justice, be well deserving of punishment, for they had been guilty of a gross contempt not only of the authority of the court, but of the very laws under the protection of which they live. No man would be safe if combinations of this kind could be permitted. And the very interests of these classes themselves required a maintenance of the law in its integrity, for the labourer of today might be an employer of labour tomorrow.
These unskilled workers were not unionised. Despite the police attack, the strike continued for another week.