emulation, which not only advanced their efficiency but relieved the foreman from a source of irritation in the discharge of his duties. I have already referred to the subject in a former portion of this narrative; but it cannot be too strongly urged upon the attention of proprietors of mechanical works. Besides making first-rate workmen, this method prevents the lads from getting into habits of workshop dishonesty, i.e. "skulking," and other annoyances.

My system of non-binding of apprentices was the "perfect cure," if I may so speak. All that existed between us was mutual satisfaction with each other, and that alone proved from first to last in every respect a perfect bond.

So completely were the workmen in attendance on self-acting machines relieved from the necessity of labour, that many of the employers, to keep the men from falling asleep, allowed them to attend to other machines within their powers of superintendence. This kept them fully awake. The workmen cheerfully acquiesced in this arrangement, as a relief from tedium, and especially when a shilling extra was added to their wages for each additional machine. All went well for a time, for men as well as masters. But now came the difficulty. The system was opposed to the rules of the Trades' Union. Their committee held that setting one man to superintend more than one machine was keeping out of employment some other man who ought to be employed. And yet, at the time that the objection was made, such persons were not to be had. The increased demand for skilled labour had employed every spare workman.

Nevertheless the system, in the eyes of the Union, "must be put down." The demand was made that every machine must have a Union man to superintend it, and that he must be paid the full Union regulation wages. All labourers and lads were to be discharged, and Union men employed in their places. As the times were good, and the workshops were full of orders, it was thought by the Union that the time had come to put the matter to the test. The campaign was opened by the organisation of a powerful body, entitled "The Amalgamated Society of Mechanical Engineers." It included every class of workmen employed in the trade -- ironfounders, turners, fitters, erectors, pattern-makers, and such like. All were invited to make common cause against the employers.

In order to make a conspicuous demonstration of their power, the Council of the Union first attacked the extensive firm of Platt Brothers, Oldham. The Council sent them a mandate to discharge all their labourers or other "illegal hands" from their works -- all who were employed in superintending their vast assortment of machinery -- and to fill their places with "legal mechanics" at the then regulation wages. The plan of the Union was to attack the employers one by one -- to call out the hands of one particular workshop until the employers were subdued and obeyed the commands of the Union; and then to attack another employer in the same way. The sagacity of this policy very much resembled that of the ostrich, which hides its head in hole and thinks it is concealed. The employers knew the drift of the policy, and took steps to circumvent it.

A mutual defence association was formed, and a decree was issued that, unless the demand of the Council against Platt's factory was withdrawn by a certain day, every employer would at once close his concern. The Union, nevertheless, stuck to their guns - - but only for a time. A strike took place. The works of some of the most extensive employers of labour were closed. Everything was paralysed for a time; the men went about with their hands in their pockets, while the women and children at home were wanting food. After a few weeks the funds of the Amalgamated Society became so reduced that the men gradually retired from the contest. Meanwhile, such concerns as contrived to keep their workmen in full employment -- of whom we were one made use of the occasion to act on the healthy system of what I have termed "Free trade in ability." We added, so far as we could, to the number of intelligent labourers, advanced them to the places which the Unionist workmen had left at the order of their Council, and thus kept our men on full wages until the strike was over. This was the last contest I had with Trades' Unions. One of the results was that I largely increased the number of self-acting machines, and gave a still greater amount of employment to my unbound apprentices. I placed myself in an almost impregnable position, and showed that I could conduct my business with full activity and increasing prosperity, and at the same time maintain good-feeling between employed and employer.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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