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impression is that the working classes of Australia are not as happy as those of America. There is certainly more pessimism among their leaders. A certain humorous hopefulness, a kind of chronic expectation of good luck, that one is hardly conscious of until one misses it, appears to be absent among Australian workers. And yet this is hardly characteristic of the people, with their sunny skies and with their sanguine temperament.
One must remember in comparing conditions in the two countries that practically every part of Australia has nine or ten months summer, with only the ghost of an autumn in between, and that manual labor is really more onerous for a white man than in cooler climes. There is no rest period in the year, no tonic of sharply contrasted seasons. Generally where nature works long hours men want short hours. The essence of the labor movement in Australia is less work, while in the United States it is more wages. These conditions incline men to regard labor as essentially an evil-not consciously and admittedly, but subconsciously and as a fundamental assumption in all their social reasoning. It is not suggested that labor is popularly regarded as a blessing anywhere—but it certainly is not alone the desire to conciliate the “boss” that makes many American workingmen exert themselves well toward the limit of their capacity from sheer restlessness of temperament, desire for action, or a certain pleasure in doing things. Australasian workingmen would consider the wage-earner who boasted of the amount of work he turned out in a day a sort of labor heretic. Such sentiments would soon be silenced in that country by hostile class opinion. Yet without something of the sentiment described the life of the workman must be joyless. He can not derive pleasure in following an occupation that he considers the badge of a “hereditary bondsman"—to quote a trade hall circular. Of course the theory of the iniquity of private employment is not practically and universally accepted, and it has not deprived Australian workmen generally of their pride in their craft and their individual skill; but it has tinged the atmosphere of the labor movement, created discontent with the existing order, and whether or not it is a necessary condition of social progress, it has not as yet made toward the attainment of individual happiness.
In the sense just suggested the spread of socialistic sentiment among the working classes of Australia has not stimulated their industrial morality-to use the term as indicating accepted canons. It does not encourage thrift, frugality, and strenuous industry. Few would admit that work, like virtue, is in a certain sense its own reward. Labor leaders also appeal to a new theory of property right, and to one that disintegrates all old standards of thought and belief upon the subject. The radical and profoundly revolutionary character of these doctrines, whether they are right or wrong, is never fully appreciated from their doctrinaire or literary statement. They go ultimately clear to the root of private morals, and while professedly social, possibly react most strongly upon the individual.
The men who are at the head of the labor movement in Australia, however, are the equals of their colleagues in the other political parties, possibly their superiors in conscientious devotion to certain ideals. As a rule their standard of private morality is high. A large percentage of them are total abstainers and the labor party rather inclines toward restrictive temperance legislation. Most of them favor women suffrage, and this is a plank in state platforms where the franchise has not already been granted. The labor movement is not anti-Christian in Australia. The working class of that country is really a middle class, and its party organization possesses, aside from its economic theories, middle class rather than fourth estate moral standards and ideals. Indeed the political labor movement of Australasia might be denominated the revolt of a socialistic bourgeoisie.
The statistical bases for a thorough-going study of labor conditions in the Commonwealth do not yet exist, though satisfactory data may be obtained from individual States. The effects of recent labor legislation have not had time to manifest themselves, nor can they at present be distinguished from other effects due to federation and outside causes. Public opinion has not yet matured and crystallized in regard to the chief features of the labor propaganda; in fact people are still only half aware what the underlying theory of that movement is or whither it leads. Employers view with misgiving the effects of laws lately enacted or in prospect. The system of party politics is in a state of transition, both as to platforms and alignment and as to tactical organization. The impermanency of present conditions impresses itself everywhere upon the visitor. Predictions as to political developments or legislation made by those most competent to speak upon such subjects are falsified almost before they are uttered. Under such circumstances it would certainly be presumptuous for a stranger in Australia to draw final conclusions as to the meaning and the probable results of present economic tendencies in that country.
What has been attempted is to give some impressions and statistics with regard to labor conditions with as much history of the part of the labor movement that differentiates Australia from other AngloSaxon countries as is necessary in order to see the forces behind the experimental legislation recently enacted or now proposed.
The ultimate outcome of the labor movement- as far as the attainment of its practical ideals is concerned-may depend upon the attitude of the farmers. The latter have many old grievances against the employing class. A considerable percentage of the small settlers in the pastoral States, like New South Wales, have at some period of their lives been shearers or station workmen, and members of trades unions. The labor party appeals to the farmers by its positive programme.
It is easier to elicit interest among the politically apathetic rural classes by promising to do something definite than by promising indefinite generalities or merely insisting upon the sanctity of the status quo. Mr. Watson, the labor Federal premier, represented a country district. The president of the largest farmers' society in Australia, with more than 7,000 active members, said to the writer: “The labor party is the true democratic party of this country, and gives us all our true democratic legislation. But the trade-union leaders must broaden the labor platform and take in their country friends. The one point on which we now differ is on their programme of land nationalization." It is doubtful whether the two interests will ever agree upon this last point, and the general testimony of farmers and those familiar with the farmers was that as a class they oppose the labor party. This is especially true in Victoria, where farmers' leagues have been organized and an active campaign is being conducted antagonistic to socialism and labor doctrines.
Until the influence of the farmer has had time to be felt in Australia we shall know very little as to the relative forces at work for and against socialistic legislation. The prediction one would naturally venture is that the result will be practical compromises, upon the whole satisfactory to a majority of the workingmen, which will throw over many of the theoretical ideals and principles of the socialist political economy.
The labor movement represents a centering inward of Australian life. It has nothing to do with wider world interests. It is intensely local, and perhaps more self-confident in its policies than if Australia were not so remote from other civilization centers. There is no chance to compare home conditions with corresponding social conditions elsewhere. And, what is strange in a race so akin to our own and placed exteriorly in such similar circumstances, the national ideal of the Australians is almost the converse of ours. A speaker in the Westralian parliament said: “We have to choose between two idealsbetween the ideal of rapid progress, large population, and, possibly, a very considerable residuum of poverty, and the ideal of a slower rate of progress, almost stationary population, and happily very little poverty." By protection and exclusion and formal regulation the labor party would raise the standard of life of the working people. Americans have sought the same end by reverse methods, by inviting the world into national partnership, and by an almost anarchie struggle of the fittest to survive. Our system may breed a more aygressive, energetic, and masterful race, but at the expense of more suffering and injustice to the weak. There is danger in both systems. Extreme individualism may produce lawlessness, and lawlessness strain to the severing limit the bonds of society. Extreme socialism may make of a nation a social hypochondriac and injure the constitution of a country by too much doctoring.
An individual acknowledgment of the many hospitalities and helpful courtesies extended to the writer during his investigations in Australia would add materially to the length of this report. Without exception every facility was placed at his disposal, both by public authorities and by private parties, for obtaining information upon the matters which were the object of his visit. An American feels very much at home in the Commonwealth. He is apt to view its ultimate future almost as enthusiastically as a native citizen. And he is certain to regard with the most cordial sympathy and satisfaction the growing power and prosperity of this kindred Federation of the South Pacific.
AGREEEMENTS BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES.
[It is the purpose of this Bureau to publish from time to time important agreements made between large bodies of employers and employees with regard to wages, hours of labor, etc. The Bureau will be pleased to receive copies of such agreements whenever made.)
JOINT INTERSTATE AGREEMENT OF OPERATORS AND
It is hereby agreed between the representatives of the Southwestern Interstate Coal Operators' Association and the representatives of Districts 14, 21, and 25 of the United Mine Workers of America, that the existing interstate, district, and Texas agreements be continued without any change or addition whatever, except as follows:
Day wage, yardage, dead and deficient work to be reduced throughout 5.55 per cent, except the day-wage scale in Texas mines, which shall be reduced one-half the above amount.
Interstate and district scales to be signed simultaneously at Pittsburg and to expire March 31, 1906.
INSIDE DAY-WAGE SCALE.
$2.42 2. 23 1.07 2. 42 2,42 2. 42 2. 42 2. 42 2. 42 2. 36 2. 23 1. 65 2. 64 2.83
OUTSIDE DAY-WAGE SCALE.
Firet bl cksmiths.
$2.83 Second blacksmiths.
2. 60 Blacksmiths' helpers.
2. 23 Carpenters...
2. 30 (Provided that in no case will there be any reduction from the rate of wages now paid to carpenters of more than 5.55 per cent.) All other outside day labor not enumerated ......
$1.91 Provided that any class of outside day labor now receiving $2.02 or more per day shall be reduced 5.55 per cent. This provision only applies to outside day labor not otherwise enumerated.