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 58 Vict. Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry. 589
To the Honourable Colonel James Baker,
Provincial Secretary.
The Commission of Labour Enquiry begs herewith to respectfully submit its report; and
in view of the circumstance that a general election of Members of the Legislature has taken
place since the appointment of the Commission, would refer to the following particulars as
having led to the formation of the Commission :—
At the last Session of the Legislature the Government repealed the " Bureau of Labour
Statistics and Industrial Disputes Conciliation Act, 1893," and when repealing- it the Government introduced, and the Legislature passed, a modified Act on purely voluntary lines,
entitled the "Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1894," and at the same time the
Government undertook to institute a Commission of Enquiry into the labour question and to
report to this Legislature, with a view to additional legislation on the subject, if considered
Pursuant to the foregoing the Government appointed the Commission of Labour Enquiry,
which now reports.
A circular, with schedule of questions pertaining to labour, was very generally sent by
mail throughout the Province to persons likely to be well informed upon, and concerned in,
the subject of labour, and, in addition, a personal canvass of employers and employes by
officers of the Commission was made in the Cities of Victoria, Vancouver, New Westminster,
and Nanaimo.
A synopsis of answers received is herewith submitted, but owing to the circumstances
that many of the returns made by employers and employes were accompanied by the statement
that they were only for the private information of the Commission, the present returns only
represent a portion of the views received on the several questions formulated.
A reference to the synopsis will show that the present Act, while conditionally approved
by a great many, both employers and employes, it is yet by them considered desirable that it
should be amended so as to secure the compulsory bringing together for conciliation or arbitration of parties to a dispute, the award not necessarily to be binding; while a few advocate
compulsory arbitration in its entirety.
A number of the employers object to any interference whatever by legislation, either
towards conciliation or arbitration; but the majority of employers reporting to the Commission
advocate the compulsory bringing together of disputants.
Many to whom circulars were sent have made no replies thereto ; and many who were
personally canvassed for their views declined to fill in answers to the schedule of questions.
A Bureau of Labour Statistics, although not referred to in the schedule of enquiries, is
shown to be desired by a large number of employes, including all such of the Trades Unions
who in their collective capacities have reported to the Commission. 590 Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry. 1895
Considerations of economy prevented the Commission prosecuting its enquiries by a
personal canvass throughout the interior and outlying districts of the Province ; circulars
were, however, sent to all known leading employers in such districts ; but for the reason that
a personal canvass could not be made the Commission was unable to obtain the views of the
employes there resident.
The Commission would respectfully represent as follows, from the evidence gathered from
the labour enquiry, and upon the labour question generally :—
The conflict between capital and labour, with its frequently attendant disastrious results,
not only to those immediately concerned, but to the public at large, is perhaps the question of
paramount concern in the present age.
While compulsory arbitration with enforced awards has been advanced by some as the
solution of the problem, yet the concensus of opinion, as gathered by the Commission of
Enquiry, and from the best friends of labour, shows that compulsory arbitration in its entirety
is not practicable, and for reasons easily recognisable.
An employer of labour could not be compelled to continue his works at financial loss, as
such continuance would inevitably in time, more or less extended, lead to bankruptcy ; and,
on the other hand, the workman could not be compelled to give his labour against his wishes,
and it would be preposterous to attempt to punish him by fine or otherwise for resenting any
interference with his personal liberty.
Public opinion must ever be the highest and ultimate court of appeal for the settlement
of disputes between capital and labour; and in order to bring it to bear as speedly as possible
upon strikes and lock-outs, which not only injuriously affect those immediately concerned, but
also menace the public well-being, the Commission would refer for your serious consideration,
and through you to the Legislature, whether the existing Provincial Labour Act should not
be amended so as to secure the compulsory bringing together of parties to a dispute, and the
making public by investigation the causes thereof.
An argument in favour of compulsory bringing together of disputants, or of their representatives, as in a Board of Conciliation or Arbitration, lies in the circumstance that trifling-
misunderstandings between an employer and employes frequently lead to strikes and lock-outs
which a friendly bringing together, through the mediatory services of Boards of Conciliation,
would in most cases avert.
The successful issue arising from the Provincial Board of Conciliation in the case of the
stone-cutters' strike during the past summer gives the Legislature cause for congratulation
upon having passed the Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Act of last Session; but fortuitous
as was the outcome of the said strike, the intervention of the Board of Conciliation was well
nigh frustrated through the difficulty experienced in persuading the disputants to name
Conciliators. And in the case of the recent strike of the employes of a sawr-mill at Vancouver,
the proffered services of the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration were not availed of on
account of one of the parties to the dispute having refused to name Conciliators.
It is a noticeable feature in the experience of the Commission, as showing the moderateness
of the views of the employes reporting, and their accord with the views of the most careful
students of the labour question, that only one per cent, of those represented by the reports
submitted advocate arbitration with compulsory awards as the solution of strikes and lock-outs,
while the almost unanimous expression is in favour of a compulsory bringing together, by
Councils of Conciliation and Arbitration, in order that questions in dispute may be ventilated,
but without enforceable awards.
It may perhaps be deemed advisable that the Legislature should carry out into effect the
very general suggestions made to the Commission, and enact legislation in the direction of
ensuring a compulsory bringing together for eliciting evidence, with the view of settlement of
dispute, either by amicable arrangement or through force of public opinion.
Concurrent with the enquiries of the Provincial Labour Commission, an exhaustive
investigation arising from the recent strikes at Pullman and elsewhere (the most extensive in
the annals of trade disputes) was instituted by the Government of the United States; and as
the matters treated upon by the United States Commission are germane to those of the
Provincial enquiry, the following excerpt is given from the United States Commission report,
which has recently been submitted :—
" The Commission suggests the consideration by the States of the adoption of some system
of conciliation and arbitration like that in use in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 58 Vict. Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry. 591
" That system might be enforced by additional provisions giving the Board of Arbitration
more power to investigate all strikes, whether requested to do so or not."
The desire evinced for the re-establishment of a Bureau of Labour Statistics suggests for
the serious consideration of the Legislature whether the existing Labour Act should not be
extended so as to include a Bureau of Labour Statistics, and which would undoubtedly be of
great service in preventing the influx of employes when the labour market is overcrowded, and
in inducing their immigration when such is warranted by the conditions of employment.
Most States of the Union provide for the collecting of labour statistics, and these are
found to advance the interests of those concerned by furnishing authentic data as to the
supply and demand of the labour market in the several industries, the rate of wages, cost of
living, etc.; and it is very generally conceded that if similar data were furnished by the
Provincial Government that results of marked advantage to labour and other interests of the
Province would accrue therefrom.
More especially, in view of the arranged new appointment of an Agent-General to
represent this Province in Great Britain, would it appear desirable to establish a Provincial
Labour Bureau, so as to increase the Agent-General's usefulness by placing him in possession
of labour statistics as above outlined.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
Chairman, Commission of Labour Enquiry,
Victoria, B.C., 3rd January, 1895.
Board of Conciliation and Arbitration.
Board op Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Office,
Rooms 32 and 33, Board of Trade Building.
Victoria, B.C., 189    .
Sir,—A Commission of Enquiry has been authorized by the Government to make
enquiries into the Labour Question, and to report, with a view to additional legislation on the
subject, if considered desirable.
The Commission would be much obliged if you would be kind enough to give answers to
the accompanying questions, so far as you can conveniently do so.
Any such answers would be still more useful if returned within a few days after receipt
of this form.
It is of course not expected that you will be able to supply all the details which are
asked for.
When forwarding your replies, please reverse this circular, and fold it so as to show the
return address.
Thanking you in advance for any information which you may give,
I am, Sir,
Yours faithfully,
Chairman Commission of Labour Enquiry.
lo	 592 Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry. 1895
Questions. Answers.
1. State whether you are an employer or an employee.
2. Name the owner, firm, or individual reporting.
3. Name of mine, factory, or works.
4. Does the " Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Act,
1894," meet with your approval? If not, what amendments would you suggest 1
5. Do you consider that legislation in the direction of compulsory arbitration would tend to debar capital from
being invested in the development of the industries of
the Province? Or are you of the opinion that such
legislation would not seriously interfere with such
development 1
6. How many strikes or lock-outs, if any, have there been
in the general trade of your calling or occupation during
the last five years 1
7. At what amount do you estimate the loss, direct and
contingent, arising from strikes and lock-outs in your
particular trade or calling during the above term ?
8. What were the principal causes of the disputes 1
9. What were the modes of settlement ?
10. Has your firm membership in any association of employers for dealing with labour questions 1 Or, if you
are an employee, are you a member of any trades
union or labour organization 1
11. Have you any suggestions or statements to make for
the information of the Commission ?
12. Do you wish your name withheld from publicity in
connection with the above observations, or is the Commission free to mention it, if it is considered advisable 1
U^iP Memo.—If space in the form is insufficient, please write answer on separate paper
and attach. 58 Vict.
Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry.
Analysis of answers received  to questions asked  by the Commission of Labour Enquiry
showing the number for and against compulsory arbitration.
Victoria :
Employees (6 Unions,
Employers .
Employees .
New Westminster :
Employers .  .
Employees ...
Nanaimo :
Employees (2 Unions, 781
Wellington :
Employers .
Employees .
Mainland District :
Employers ...
Employees .,.
Island District:
Employers .
Employees .
Against present
Act or any kind
of labour legislation.
1 union,
95 mem.
Will compulsory
arbitration tend
to debar capital
from being' invested in the
C3 g
" &-2
111 33
Names withheld
Majority for
and against
compulsory arbitration.
For.     Against.
59^ % of Employers are in favour of compulsory bringing together.
97j % of the whole are in favour of compulsory bringing together.
Victoria, B. C, 8th December, 1894.
Hon. Colonel James Baker,
Provincial Secretary.
Sir,—In terms of your instructions in the matter of the Royal City Planing Mills
(Vancouver) strike, I proceeded to Vancouver on Tuesday, 4th inst.
I had several interviews with the employers and employes, extending over three days.
The employers were adverse to referring the matter to a Council of Conciliation or
Arbitration, although at one time I was hopeful of their naming Conciliators; they, however,
gave me to understand that I, in my private capacity, might be useful in bringing about a
settlement of the difficulty.
The employes were prepared to submit the matter to a Council of Conciliation or Arbitration, and took the steps required by the Act towards the formation of such Council.
On my informing them that the employers declined to name Conciliators, the employes
then negotiated with me personally, that they were prepared to meet the Mill Company halfway in the matter of reduction oi their wages, in view of the depressed condition of the lumber
market, and of the needs of some of their number who had families, and who could ill-afford
to lose work even at reduced wages. 594 Report of Commission of Labour Enquiry. 1895
I then saw the Manager of the Mills, and reported results of my meeting with the
employes, and tried to secure the positions of the former employes on terms of mutual half-way
This the Manager would not accede to, and I subsequently learned that on the morning
of the day of this last interview the Mill Company had filled up the places of the striking
employes with new men at the reduced rate of wages, with the exception of the places of two
or three of the old hands who had accepted the reduction.
The following is the schedule of rate of wages as given me by the employes, and as I
read it over in the presence of the Manager of the Mills, who did not question it correctness,
I take it to be correct:—
Old rate of New rate
wages per per
month. month.
Sawer  $75 00            reduced to $65 00
Setter  45 00 .. 30 00
Dogger ,  45 00 „ 30 00
1st Wedger off $40 00 or  44 00 „ 30 00
Re-saw ,  55 00 .. 50 00
Slab-sawyer  40 00 „ 30 00
Marker  40 00 „ 30 00
Truckman  36 00 „ 26 00
1st Fireman  45 00 „ 35 00
2nd        36 00 „ 26 00
Slab Carrier   36 00 ,t 26 00
Shingle Sawyer  45 00 „ 40 00
Yard hands, say  34 00 „ 24 00
It was explained to me that only three-fourth's time was allowed on above wages, which
were for ten hours' work; also that deductions were made therefrom on account of the mill
not being able to work at certain stages of the tide; the men to board themselves.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
Deputy Commissioner of Conciliation and Arbitration.
Printed by Richard Wolfexden, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty.


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