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labour of the community, and where, therefore, the legislation with regard to industrial disputes must touch only a small portion of the labouring classes.
In Nova Scotia again an Act has been passed which relates to labour engaged in mining operations; and recourse has there been had to a plan for enforcing submission to the award of the arbitrators, which it may be worth while to mention. The employer, on receiving notice of the appointment of arbitrators, may retain the wages of the employees concerned in the arbitration for the fourteen days preceding the appointment of the arbitrators—which wages shall be paid into a specified bank, and the employer is also required to pay into the bank an equal amount; then, if the award goes against the employees, and all of them do not at once submit to the award, the wages paid into the bank are forfeited to the employer after deducting the costs of the arbitration; and a converse provision applies when the award is against the employer. I am not aware that this provision has ever been acted upon; and it is one which would evidently give rise to considerable difficulties.
In the Colony of Victoria another experiment with regard to wages has been tried. A special Board has been created by a statute of 1896 with the duty of determining the minimum rate of wages for making wearing apparel, furniture, and bread.
I am aware that the survey which I have thus attempted with reference to legislation on the settlement of wages is of a very imperfect character—a very restricted attempt at a study in comparative legislation ; and further, that in many cases I am quite without information as to the results of the enactments made. So far as my review of the subject goes, it tends to make one distrust the feasibility of any attempt to regulate wages by the decisions of a court. The broad common-sense objections to compulsory arbitration in the matter of wages which occur to every one who thinks
carefully of the matter, are not yet removed or shaken by experimental legislation at home or in the colonies; and for myself, I hope that it will be long before the tables are so far turned on the employers of labour as that the Statute of Labourers of Edward III. shall form a precedent for a Statute of Masters.
The method from which most is to be hoped for in the future as a means of avoiding the terrible industrial struggles of strikes or lock-outs, appears to me to be the development of voluntary Councils of Conciliation constituted of representatives of employers and employed with a recourse to arbitration in the last resort. In a Conciliation Board so constituted as that a tie in votes is possible, and without some further provision for a decision, it is obvious that an attempt at conciliation may fail, and that in that event nothing is left but an industrial war: in the event of an equal vote in the Board of Conciliation, and in that event only, it seems to me that masters and men may reasonably be asked to admit some form of arbitration. To this it may be replied that such an arbitration in such an event is open to all the evils attending on compulsory arbitration ; and that a master may be compelled to carry on his works, and a man to give his labour, on terms which they respectively deem unjust. I confess the difficulty, and I would avoid it by giving to each party to the arbitration a power after the award to determine the agreement by a short notice, and so to bring within narrow limits the evils to be feared. With this provision, the reference to arbitration gives an opportunity for fully threshing out the question in difference, and it gives a pause before war can be declared ; and both these things are of high value. I cannot but think that a reference to arbitration in the event of the failure of conciliation, and coupled with a power of speedily determining the agreement if the award be found unendurable, is better than an immediate recourse to industrial warfare.
In this conclusion I am greatly fortified by the successful working for many years past of the joint system of conciliation and arbitration in the manufactured iron and steel trade of the north of England. The rules of the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration (revised up to January, 1895) declare the object of the Board to be “to arbitrate on wages or any other matters affecting the respective interests of the employers or operatives, and by conciliatory means to interpose its influence to prevent disputes and put an end to any that may arise.” Equal representation of the two sides is provided for. All questions are in the first instance referred to a standing committee, except “a general rise or fall of wages, or the selection of an arbitrator to be empowered to fix the same.” This excepted question is reserved for the consideration of the whole Board, at which the referee, who is a standing officer of the Board, may be invited to preside : if no agreement be arrived at, a single arbitrator (who may be the referee) is to be appointed, and his decision, at or after a special arbitration held for the purpose, is final and binding on all parties. The extent to which this system has worked may be learned from the fact that, up to the year 1890, the standing committee had arranged more than 850 questions, whilst arbitration had been resorted to in only 18 instances. The fact that such a system has worked to mutual satisfaction and to the exclusion of all strikes and lock-outs for a long series of years, appears to me to speak eloquently in favour of permitting arbitration when conciliation fails, even in the question of the future rates of wages.
One other effort at friendly aid by way of conciliation and arbitration deserves a few words. I mean the establishment, under the auspices of the London Chamber of Commerce, of the London Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Board, in the year 1890. The scheme creates first the London Conciliation Board, and, secondly, separate Trade Conciliation Committees.
The constitution of both Board and committees is designed to give to capital and labour an equal representation. The following extracts from the rules describe the duties of the Board and of the committees respectively :
“The duties of the London Conciliation Board shall be as follows: “(a) To promote amicable methods of settling labour
disputes and the prevention of strikes and lockouts generally, and also especially in the following
methods :“1. They shall, in the first instance, invite both parties
to the dispute to a friendly conference with each other; offering the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce as a convenient place of meeting. Members of the Board can be present at this conference, or
otherwise, at the pleasure of the disputants. "2. In the event of the disputants not being able to arrive
at a settlement between themselves, they shall be invited to lay their respective cases before the Board, with a view to receiving their advice, mediation, or assistance. Or, should the disputants prefer it, the Board would assist them in selecting arbitrators, to whom the questions at issue might be submitted for
decision. 3. The utmost efforts of the Board shall in the mean time
and in all cases, be exerted to prevent, if possible, the occurrence or continuance of a strike or lock-out until after all attempts at conciliation shall have
been exhausted. "The London Conciliation Board shall not constitute itself
a body of arbitrators except at the express desire of both parties to a dispute, to be signified in writing, but shall in preference, should other methods of conciliation fail, offer to assist the disputants in the
selection of arbitrators chosen either from its own body or otherwise. Any dispute coming before the Board shall, in the first instance, be referred to a Conciliation Committee of the particular trade to which the disputants belong, should such a Committee have been formed and affiliated to the
Chamber. ... “It shall be the duty of the Trade Conciliation Committees to discuss matters of contention in their respective trades; to endeavour amicably to arrange the same, and in general to promote the interests of their trade by discussion and mutual agreement. In the event of their not being able to arrange any particular dispute, they will refer the same to the London Conciliation Board, and in the mean time use their most strenuous endeavours to prevent any strike or lock-out until after the London Conciliation Board shall have exhausted all reasonable means of settlement.
"They may from time to time consider and report to the London Conciliation Board upon any matter affecting the interests of their particular trade upon which it may be thought desirable to employ the action or influence of the London Chamber of Commerce as a body.”
In practice, the method which has been found most useful by the London Board has been one not perhaps originally in contemplation. Little progress has been made in the constitution of the separate committees, but the course most in favour has been an application to the Board, and the appointment by them of “a small panel of arbitrators representative of each order from the members of the Board or from outside if necessary, care being taken that they are entirely disinterested in the particular dispute.” A very beneficial part of the labours of the Board has consisted in the settlement of nascent disputes. Something like pride or a fear of showing a supposed sign of weakness was found