Railway Labourers' Strike

J. Hughes, an athletic Welshman, lounged in a very unconcerned manner with his hands in his pockets on the floor of the Office, charged with breach of agreement, and absconding from his hired service, he being a hired labourer of the Sydney Railway Company. Mr Barker appeared for the prosecution on behalf of the Railway Company. Mr Roberts was employed by Taffy.

A number of gentlemen connected with the progress of the railroad communication being in attendance, the case assumed an important aspect. Mr Barker, in dwelling on the importance of the affair, said, that the Company had paid the passage-money of one hundred and fifty labourers, who arrived about a fortnight ago per David M'Ivor, to wit, £16 each, besides advancing £2 in cash.

The men were engaged as quarrymen, or to make themselves useful. The wage was for each 6s. per diem while employed in the quarries, and 5s. per diem when at ordinary labour. Independently of which they were furnished with tents or huts. A number them on arrival in the Colony wished to break their agreements, and if they were suffered to do so the consequences would be very pernicious to the railway progress of the Colony.

The Company intended to send out 500 labourers altogether, and it was not to be tolerated that these men were to strike work and run off in the face of their written agreements, after receiving a free passage and ad- vance from their wages. Mr Barker also asserted that the Company paid the labourers more than the stipulated wages when found worthy of it.

Mr Roberts took divers clever but untenable objections to the proceedings. The magistrates, Messrs. Dowling, Chambers, Hargraves, Huntley, and T.W. Campbell, found the defendant guilty, and sentence him to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour in Sydney gaol for two calendar months, and at the expiration of that term to return and complete his contract.

Several other railway labourers were in the Court among the witnesses; and there is good reason to believe that this prompt decision of the magistrates will tend materially to keep these men from breaking their lawful agreements thereby impeding the railway works of the Colony.

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