MIONTUAIRISC NA FINNEACHTA
(Minutes of Evidence)
Déardaoin, 14adh Eanair, 1926.
(Thursday, 14th January, 1926.)
The Committee sat at 11 a.m.
Mr. L. J. Duffy (General Secretary, Irish Union of Distributive Workers and Clerks) again called and examined.
Chairman.—Before you start, Mr. Duffy, I wish you to understand that in giving evidence we would like witnesses to be as brief as is compatible with the points they wish to make. In dealing with your evidence we will follow on exactly the same lines as with other witnesses—question and answer. Yesterday you showed a tendency to speak at length in some instances following on questions asked you; I would ask you to aim at brevity where possible.
774. Witness.—I would first like to draw attention to a matter you asked me about yesterday; that is, as regards the method of taking a vote. I will give you a reference.
775. I think you could leave that matter over. As regards paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 in your précis, I understand that the point made there is that small traders cannot argue that the Saturday night’s trade is really necessary. The point is that the Saturday night’s trade is not necessary either for the traders or the public?—My case is that the public do not require it.
776. You wish to show that the late hours that are sought under this Bill are quite unnecessary?—Quite.
777. They are quite unnecessary from the point of view of the public and from the point of view of the small traders? —Quite so.
778. Do you wish to deal further with that, before we proceed to ask questions?—Paragraph 7 contains the only thing we want to refer to. First, I desire to say that there is no practice in Dublin that I can ascertain any information of under which domestic servants are off especially on Saturday night. As a rule, servants are off for one or two afternoons each week, whether or not they are off on Saturday night. Their salaries are paid monthly and, therefore, they are not particularly flush with money on Saturday night. In the next place, I would like to make the following quotation from a letter written to the “Irish Times” on the 25th June last, by the Secretary of the Irish Women Workers’ Union:—
“… our members, working women whose only shopping day is Saturday … are entirely opposed to the practice of keeping shop assistants at work after 8 p.m. on Saturdays. …”
779. I would like to ask whether you have any evidence to give regarding the demand or otherwise of the workers of the city in regard to this amending Bill. You stated in your evidence that in July last the Dublin Workers’ Council, representing 58,000 workers, approved of the Bill then before the Dáil. Have you any knowledge of any organised workers demanding the passing of the present amending Bill?—I have knowledge to the contrary. Since the amending Bill was introduced, the Workers’ Council and Trade Union Branches in Dublin have passed resolutions in opposition to any extension of the hours.
780. You have heard the evidence of Mr. Calvert regarding the effect of closing at 7.30 upon those who required clothing—that they would not purchase the clothing if they had not the convenience to make the purchase at those particular hours?—That is contrary to the experience of all sensible people. As a matter of fact, people do not, as a rule, purchase articles of any value late on Saturday night or any other night. The purchases on these nights are usually of a smaller type.
781. You heard Mr. Moran state yesterday that if this Bill became law in its present form his association—or that portion of it which does a working class trade—would have to open too?—Yes.
782. What would your view of that be? —Representations to that effect were made to us early last year before the other Bill was introduced, and they were resisted by our people. The matter was left in abeyance and the Bill was introduced and became law eventually.
783. You would be opposed to that?— Very much.
784. You would be opposed to it from the point of view of your own members— the shop assistants—and also because you consider it is not necessary in the public interest?—The shop assistants in many of the smaller shops in Earl street and Talbot street that now close at 6.30 will not voluntarily go back to work until 9 o’clock.
785. That is really a matter between the employee and the Association, and is not, strictly speaking, a matter for the Dáil?—Except the Dáil desires to prevent an industrial upheaval.
786. Is it your view that the passage of this Bill is likely to cause an industrial dispute?—It certainly will—in the Talbot street and Earl street houses.
787. Can you suggest any modification in the Bill which would make it more acceptable to your Association?—We have frequently suggested to the people promoting the Bill that they should meet and discuss the matter with us and see if any accommodation could be found. But we have been unable to get a conference.
788. To whom did you make the suggestion?—I have a report of a meeting as early as July, 1923, after the result of the plebiscite taken by the Corporation was known. That was a meeting with Mr. Calvert’s Association, with Mr. Calvert in the Chair. On that occasion Mr. Calvert said that he was personally opposed to mutual arrangements of any kind, but that he was prepared to cooperate in bringing about compulsory closing by law.
789. Your view is that no compromise is possible?—I cannot see any possibility of it.
790. It has not been found possible up to the present?—No.
791. Have you any suggestion as to the lines on which such a compromise might be arrived at?—There has been no proposal and no opportunity of making one, and, therefore, we have not been thinking along these lines.
792. In Miss Bennett’s letter, the hour 8 o’clock is mentioned?—Yes.
793. Is there any point in 8 o’clock instead of 7.30?—I have no reason to know what was in her mind when she wrote the letter to the “Irish Times,”’ and when she stated that they were entirely opposed to keeping shop assistants at work after 8 p.m. on Saturday. I do not know why she mentioned 8 o’clock. 7.30 was the hour that was then in the Bill. That was in June last.
794. Deputy Johnson.—Can you say whether 8 o’clock, instead of 7.30, would meet to any degree the claims of the shopkeepers who are supporting this Bill and the Assistants’ Union?—If I may say so, that question is dealt with specifically in a paragraph of my précis of evidence.
795. We will now pass to paragraph 8 of the précis of evidence. As I understand, the point you, Mr. Duffy, wish to make in that paragraph is that if the conditions of shop life in Dublin were intelligently organised, there would be no necessity for extension of the working hours. Perhaps you would explain that a little more fully?—My view is that people do not address themselves to making profit out of their business by running it on intelligent lines if they can make money out of it by running it to the detriment of other people. It is the question of buying and stock-keeping and account-keeping that I have really in mind, and the suggestion I make is that if the people who are organising the business did it intelligently and closed their shops at a reasonable hour, the public would learn to buy at a reasonable hour the same as they have to do in the Post Office.
796. Your point is that if all shops in Dublin were agreed upon a certain closing hour you would have no people who would be anxious to buy clothing or anything else after that hour?—Of course, it would have to be a reasonable hour. I think any hour before 6 o’clock on a Saturday would be unreasonable, though in Enniscorthy they closed all the houses at 1 o’clock on Saturday. In Dublin, I think the closing should not be earlier than 6 o’clock, and I am satisfied that if all shops were closed at 6 o’clock the people would learn to do their shopping before that time, and the people who stroll around the streets, looking at shop windows up to midnight, would find some more useful occupation.
797. What are the hours of closing in provincial towns?—In some towns they do not close until 9 o’clock.
798. Would you say 9 o’clock would be the hour of closing for drapers’ shops in country towns?—It all depends on the country town. If you take Limerick City, there is no shop open after 7.30. It is much the same in Waterford. In Tralee there is no shop open after 6.30. In Cork there is no shop open after 8 o’clock.
799. I would like to know what is Mr. Duffy’s personal experience, and his knowledge gained from contact with shop assistants generally, as to the effect upon the individual of 12 hours’ work on a day on which it is alleged 50 per cent. of the whole week’s trade is done. What is the effect of that upon the physique and nervous system of the individual?—It is particularly injurious, and especially so where assistants have not, because of small wages, proper nourishment.
800. Would you say that the strain upon an assistant in a shop which is doing so large a proportion of its trade on one day is very intense and should not be prolonged beyond a reasonable hour? —There is no doubt that in the late shopping districts—the working-class districts —in Dublin, there is a rush of trade on Saturday, particularly between the hours of 11 o’clock and 4.30 o’clock. I have known people who have made as many as ninety sales—served ninety customers —between 11 o’clock and 4.30 o’clock on Saturdays.
801. You say that want of business methods on the part of certain people— particularly the small traders—works out to the detriment of somebody. To whose detriment does it work out?—To the detriment of themselves and the people working for them.
802. What reason have you for saying that these people lack business methods? —I thought it was notorious.
803. Many things are notorious that are not facts?—I have been negotiating and dealing with these people for many years, and I know pretty well what their methods are.
804. This is a very sweeping statement to make?—I worked in a draper’s shop for ten years myself and I know the position.
805. Physically or mentally, I should say that it would be pretty difficult for you to be so intimate with the facts as to say that, no matter what your official position is?—I do not desire to express an opinion on that.
806. This statement is your opinion and no more?—I am stating a fact, but I do not desire to express an opinion on my fitness to deal with the matter that you are discussing.
807. You know it is a fact?—Yes.
808. Does Mr. Calvert come under that heading?—I do not desire to express any opinion on Mr. Calvert’s business.
809. You are not, I hope, in a position to express any opinion?—I might be in a position to state some facts as to how he organises his business, but I do not think that I ought to do so here.
810. You are in a position to do so, but you do not desire to do it?—I do not wish to pillory a gentleman who comes here to give evidence, as I do not think it would be fair, but I could give evidence comparing the wages he pays and the conditions of his employment with those of his competitors in the same street.
811. Does not the class of business influence wages?—I do not think so.
Chairman.—I do not think we ought to go into that.
Deputy Johnson.—I think Mr. Duffy should be allowed to answer the question in the fullest possible manner, having been asked it by the promoters of the Bill.
Deputy Hennessy.—I do not object, but I do not desire to be limited in any way.
Chairman.—We are not dealing with the question of wages.
812. Very well. (To Witness): What are the closing hours for domestic servants?—I have no knowledge of any particular closing hour.
813. If I said that they had not a closing hour until seven or eight o’clock on a Saturday night, would I be wide of the mark?—My information is that they do not get off at all on a Saturday evening.
814. I have information to the contrary. What evening do they get off to do their shopping?—So far as I can gather, the domestic servant is off one evening and in some houses two evenings in the week, say, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
815. Are there many of those?—I have made inquiries, and my information is that it is general to give two afternoons off in the week, but not always as early as three o’clock. As a general rule they have one evening from three o’clock and one from six o’clock in the afternoon.
816. I have also made enquiries, as I hold that they are a class of the community that might be better treated. They never get off until after the tea-hour at 6 o’clock, and I do not see what opportunities they get for shopping except on Saturday evenings. They get off on Sundays for a half-day?—Another point which I desire to make is that the servant is very frequently sent on a message for her mistress, and then shops on her own, incidentally.
817. If her mistress sends her to Arnott’s she will shop there herself?—No, but she will cross the street to Earl Street or Mary Street.
818. Is it probable that a mistress will entrust her servant to do such shopping as buying millinery and so forth?—No, but she will instruct her to take back the parcel.
819. She will not, for instance, fit on a hat?—No.
820. The mistress will do such shopping herself and will not only use her own judgment, but will be influenced by that of the milliner. Now, as regards the question of twelve hours’ work on a Saturday. Does that mean actual work from 9 to 9 o’clock, as we regard actual work?—The position in the case with which we are dealing is that the assistant lives at a distance from the shop and leaves home at 8.30 and walks to business.
821. Walks?—An assistant paid five shillings a week does not tram it. He, or she, gets to business at 9 o’clock and works until some time between 11 and, say, 2.30 or 3. An hour is given for lunch, and it has often gone as late as 3 o’clock, and later. We have reported such cases frequently, and I can produce copies of reports in connection with such cases. The assistants go back after lunch and work until closing hour. They are supposed to get their tea hour, but they do not always get it. Certain houses compel them to have their tea at certain restaurants in the street.
822. Is it not illegal not to give a tea-hour?—The tea interval is only half an hour, and a girl could not go back to her home in Ringsend or Blackrock in that time.
823. You say if she lives in Ringsend she will walk to business?—Yes.
824. Or from Blackrock?—No.
825. I think you are exaggerating a little?—No. I do not say that they are all in the same category and that they all walk to business.
826. Distance has a good deal to do with it?—Yes.
827. Deputy Cooper.—With regard to Doctor Hennessy’s question, would it meet your objection if shops were to open at a later hour on Saturdays?—I do not think that that would be a solution. I think you will realise that working at night is much more injurious owing to the lighting and heating of shops than in the early morning.
828. Still it would be some advantage to the assistant, having a hard day before her on Saturday, to have an extra hour or so in bed?—It would be compensation of some kind, but hour for hour, it is not compensation, as an hour in the morning is not equivalent to an hour at night.
829. Deputy Hennessy.—The evening hour is harder than the morning hour, as the work is greater?—In the working-class district work starts at eleven o’clock. People go to the vegetable and fruit market at that hour, and on their way back, do their shopping, and they create a rush of business from that hour.
830. Is it your experience that even before the actual customers come in to shop, there is preparatory work for the assistants?—Yes, the shop must be cleaned, the curtains and trappings taken away, and the goods must be shown and the windows dressed.
831. Deputy Hennessy.—That is all part of the day’s work from nine o’clock?—Yes.
832. Deputy Thrift.—With regard to domestic servants, have you any experience of servants being refused special leave to go out and do their shopping. Is it not a common practice to ask leave?— The information I got from ladies who employ servants is that they get off whenever they like to shop.
833. Deputy Johnson.—I take it that, except from special inquiries you made, you have no more knowledge with regard to domestic servants and their mistresses than any other person in the room?— No.
834. Deputy Hennessy.—Did you read the correspondence recently alleged to be written by domestic servants?—Yes, alleged.
835. It does not look an ideal service? —It is not ideal.
836. It is very far from ideal?—Yes.
837. No other service would compare with it?—I suggest that if you make inquiries you will find that the position of many shop assistants compares very unfavourably with that of domestic servants.
838. Chairman.—Now we will pass on to Clauses 9 and 10 of your summary of evidence. In these clauses you dispute the statement made by witnesses on behalf of the promoters of the Bill, that 25 per cent. of the Saturday trade is done between 7.30 and 9?—We controvert that.
839. Have you anything to add to the remarks made on that?—I can give you a rough and ready set of figures. The information which I have is that the ordinary experienced shop assistant in a working-class district will do a minimum trade of thirty pounds a week. That is turnover, and about seven to nine pounds of that is done on a Saturday, and from one pound to thirty shillings would be the average sales in that case between 7.30 and 9.
840. Even for that thirty shillings they are satisfied to keep open and keep their shops in full tilt?—Yes. I suggest that that is again an instance of bad organisation and that they do not know what their lighting costs them.
841. I do not think they are such fools as you suggest. You say that from 7 to 9 o’clock they do thirty shillings’ worth of trade. That shows that there cannot be very hard work for the assistants?— That is between 7.30 and 9.
842. I say it cannot be very laborious work?—That is twisting my statement. I spoke of a day’s work on a Saturday being heavy and laborious, and my evidence is that about one-third of the total week’s trade is done on a Saturday, but not between the hours of 7.30 and 9.
843. The fact is that if they do thirty shillings worth of work they cannot be hard at it?—They are hard at it all day.
844. I am not asking you that. I say that that shows that they cannot be very hard worked?—Mere standing on their feet is hard work even if they do nothing. A girl doing nothing but standing on her feet is hard worked.
845. It would be harder if she had to stand on her feet and work?—No, standing is often harder than moving about.
846. Deputy Cooper.—You get more tired when your mind is not occupied than if you were busily occupied all the time?—That is my experience at any rate.
847. We can take paragraphs 11 and 12 together. There is just a word in paragraph 11 I would like to explain. You say “in any event if they can only get a living out of their business by resorting to a system of poaching—it amounts to that—” … What do you mean by poaching?—The claim that has been made is that they should have permission to remain open and serve customers when they are aware that other shops must close. From the correspondence in the Press and certain statements made in the Dáil it appears to be desired that they should have permission to remain open when other people are obliged to be closed. I should like to refer you to a statement made by Deputy Lyons on the 3rd July when he said that the small trader should get an opportunity of making a livelihood when the big premises are finished for the day. That, I suggest, is poaching.
848. At all events the point is that there are only a limited number of people agitating for this Bill, and you feel it would be unreasonable for the Government to pass a measure like this. Is that your point?—The point I am making is not the number agitating for the Bill but that it is unreasonable to pass legislation putting in a privileged position a certain section of trade or business.
849. Your view is that there should be no discrimination. That is to say, that if Mr. Calvert, for example, obtains power to stay open this power should be extended to firms like Clerys and Todd Burns?—So far as the law is concerned there should be no distinction.
850. On the legal basis you consider that every business should have the same power?—I think it is unreasonable to say that one shop should have legal permission to remain open until 9 while another should close at 6.
851. You do not think it desirable to limit the type of shops that remain open in any way?—I understand there is a difficulty. The local authority has found those difficulties in enforcing the Act of 1925.
852. I do not think you have answered my question. You are not opposed to limiting the shops that it is proposed to keep open?—Personally, I have no objection to the special exemption for people who do not employ others to work for them.
853. It is merely from the point of view of the assistants that you are thinking?—First, from the point of view of the assistant; secondly, the difficulty of enforcement; and thirdly, the sense of grievance of small traders who employ two or three assistants.
854. You do not think it desirable to discriminate?—It is possible, but I do not think it is desirable.
855. Can you say whether in shop legislation it has been the practice to make exemptions to exempt a particular class of trade from the provisions of the Act?—The only distinction in the Act of 1912 has reference to the meal hour.
856. The tendency has been to reduce the hours of labour of the assistants as far as statutory legislation is concerned? —That is the tendency.
857. Has there been any considerable volume of legislation limiting the hours at which shops shall be open?—In Australia, for instance, there is a large volume of legislation. In Britain the legislation was of a more recent and limited character. The experience is that they cannot buy a packet of cigarettes in England after 8.
858. When did the limitation on the purchase of tobacco come into being?— I think in 1918.
859. Had it anything to do with the war?—In England the limitation was applied, and since made into an Act of Parliament, renewed under the Expiring Laws Continuance Act.
860. They can buy cigarettes in their clubs?—I cannot say. I know you can buy them up to, I think, 9.30 in theatres.
861. Is there a grievance about that? —The “Daily Mail” says so, but Parliament renewed the Act again.
862. It is only renewed temporarily?— It is an expiring law renewed every year.
863. It has not been made permanent. No legislation is permanent in that sense, but we know the difference between those temporary Acts and Acts meant to be final for the time?—We have had a number of Acts here renewable from year to year for fifty or sixty years.
864. What do you think of the 1912 Act as compared with the present Bill? —The 1912 Act suffers many defects as applied to Ireland. It does not apply as fully to Ireland as in England.
865. I want to spare you the trouble of going into it at any length. How does it compare as regards closing hours?— The 1912 Act gives power to the local authority to do what the Act of 1925 did.
866. Would you be satisfied to leave it to the local authority, as in the 1912 Act? —No, sir.
867. I think you would not?—I will tell you why. In order to get the closing order in the 1912 Act two-thirds of the traders, no matter of what importance they may be as traders, must vote in favour of it, while 50 per cent. of them can, at any time, revoke.
868. There was a plebiscite taken?— That is so.
869. You know the result of that plebiscite was against limiting the hours?— Subsequent to the plebiscite being taken.
870. Do not trouble about that, what was the result of the plebiscite?—The required two-thirds did not vote.
871. Did the majority vote?—The majority of the traders did not vote for it.
872. For the 7.30 hour as against 10 o’clock?—No.
873. That was where plural voting was even. It was not voting by heads, but a vote by the number of the different departments affected?—I am not in a position to say how the vote was regulated. It is quite possible that every shop had two votes, and it is quite possible that each has only one. I have the official regulations here.
874. Deputy Johnson.—I think we shall have to call the Town Clerk on that point. Deputy Hennessy seems to attach great importance to it.
875. Deputy Hennessy.—We are satisfied even with plural voting. There was plural voting. You did not get a majority of those people for closing at 7.30?—It is a mistake to suggest that plural voting would be an advantage to us.
876. We will leave it at that. I want to deal with the fact. You are always speaking of a privileged class. What was the position before the July Act of this privileged class to whom you refer? What would their rights be before the July Act?—They were required to close at 10 o’clock on Saturday nights and at 7 o’clock on week nights.
877. I suppose you are aware that the principal argument used in carrying the 1925 Bill was that it was to give effect to an agreement?—That argument has been used.
878. The extent of that agreement was very much understood by members of the Dáil?—We are not responsible for that.
879. I think some of the circulars issued influenced them a good deal?—I have yet to learn that.
880. It is a fact that the argument was used, and I say it was the determining argument, that the Bill was introduced last July to give effect to an agreement?—I have references here from the official debates as to what was actually said. Dr. Hennessy said there was no agreement.
881. I said so, and I hold it, because on the very face of the fact of that plebiscite there can be no agreement?— When we come to the paragraph we can deal with that.
882. Chairman.—The question whether there is an agreement is raised in paragraph 19.
883. The point raised in paragraph 13 is that the members of the Union decided they would not work longer than the existing hours, and the précis states: “If the issue was forced it is evident, we think, that an upheaval both sides are anxious to avoid would become inevitable.” I infer from that that it is your opinion that in the event of the Bill becoming law the people you represent—the drapers’ assistants—would create trouble?—I have no doubt that a number of houses will find themselves in trouble. The employers prior to July last made representations offering inducements to a number of our people to work after 6.30 or 7.30, as the case may be, and they refused. They refused by taking a vote amongst themselves. Ninety per cent. of the people in the houses concerned—that is the Earl Street and Talbot Street houses—voted against working if the employers kept the shops open, and stated they would cease work at the appointed hour. In the event of their doing so they would probably be refused admittance to the shops on the Monday, which would lead to trouble.
884. The upheaval that you speak of would mean a strike?—It would mean a lockout. The assistants, I think, would inevitably stop working at the appointed hour—6.30 or 7.30—and the employers would likely lock them out on the Monday morning.
885. You think that the employers would cause the trouble?—That is our view; they may hold a different view.
886. Before the passing of the 1925 Act they never did anything like that?—Yes, the issue came to a head just immediately before the introduction, in June, of the 1925 Act. We had received a notice from the employers that they proposed keeping their shops open until 9 o’clock on the 18th or 20th June, or some day like that. Meantime, Senator Douglas introduced his Bill, which meant that they did not put the threat into effect.
887. There was no need after that. Who were the employers that threatened that?—The people for whom Mr. Moran gave evidence yesterday—the Merchant Drapers’ Association.
888. Each member actually?—No; Mr. Kidney, Secretary of the Association, notified us to that effect.
889. By the directions of each member? —Of his Association; that is the usual way.
890. I do not mind the procedure; what matters is the authority?—There is no doubt about his authority; we are satisfied he has authority.
891. Deputy Hennessy.—At a later stage we may show that the authority was not all it represented to be.
892. Deputy Johnson.—Mr. Kidney wrote to you on behalf of the Association? —Yes; we had several conferences with them.
893. That is the common method of communication between the people representing the assistants and those representing the merchant drapers?—Yes, for many years—fifteen or sixteen years.
894. Deputy Cooper.—He was actually the Secretary of the Employers’ Association?—Yes.
895. Deputy Hennessy.—But each employer must give a direction?—That is not so. There was a lock-out in Dublin which was ordered by more than forty firms in 1921 by a committee of the Merchant Drapers’ Association.
896. It is not necessary that each member should be a party to it?—I cannot tell you what the rules are, but I am sure there is power vested in the committee to decide.
Deputy Johnson.—You had better ask a representative of the Association. You cannot expect Mr. Duffy to give testimony on behalf of the Merchant Drapers’ Association.
Deputy Hennessy.—If Mr. Duffy introduces a certain aspect of the case I think I am entitled to question him about it. He introduced the matter of an upheaval. If it were not for that I would not have asked him. I want to know what he suggests by an upheaval.
Chairman.—Deputy Hennessy is in order.
Deputy Johnson.—I am not questioning that, but the value of the evidence. I submit that to ask Mr. Duffy to tell us what the rules and regulations of the Merchant Drapers’ Association are between the Secretary and the members is of no value.
Deputy Hennessy.—He can tell us all about domestic servants.
897. I think Mr. Duffy can tell us of his own negotiations with the Merchant Drapers’ Association. Are these negotiations carried on through Mr. Kidney?— The practice is this: If we make a demand on the Merchant Drapers’ Association we do not make it on individual firms; we serve a demand on Mr. Kidney. If a conference is arranged, as is very general, what is known as a negotiating committee of the Merchant Drapers’ Association meets our negotiating committee. If we come to a settlement on any point at issue, both sides retire to recommend it to the people they represent. We recommend it to the rank and file of our members, and, I take it, they recommend it to their rank and file. If both approve of it, a formal agreement is drawn up and signed.
898. You regard a communication from Mr. Kidney as binding on the Merchant Drapers’ Association. If you have a letter from him embodying the terms of one of those agreements you have found that to be binding on the Association?— We have found it invariably binding. In 1921 we had a dispute with Switzer and Co., and Mr. Kidney wrote and told us that unless the assistants worked on a certain Monday morning every firm in his Association would lock us out, and they did in fact do so on Monday morning. His letter was the only intimation we had.
899. Deputy Hennessy.—What I was concerned about was the question of the mandate of Mr. Kidney.
Deputy Cooper.—We can only get that from Mr. Duffy with regard to his own negotiations with Mr. Kidney.
Mr. Duffy.—We regard Mr. Kidney’s mandate as being the same as mine.
900. Chairman.—In paragraph 14 I understand the point you wish to make is that, assuming this Bill became law, it would confer no advantage on the traders promoting it?—That is so.
901. Your case on this is that such advantage as lies with the shops that at present are outside the agreement and that have been opening until 9 o’clock, notwithstanding the law on the matter, lies in the fact that their rivals are not open?—We say there is a unit of Saturday night shopping—that is admitted by everybody—and if that is to be broken up into ten parts, each of the ten people getting a part, they probably would find it worth their while; but if it is broken up into one hundred parts, each of the ten will only get one-tenth of what he is getting now.
902. Why should one set of assistants, as we presume, be satisfied to work until 9 o’clock and another set not be satisfied?—What set are you thinking of that works up to nine o’clock?
903. On Saturday night, I mean?— None of them is satisfied to work until 9 o’clock.
904. Have they taken any steps to refuse, because that will settle the whole question?—It would not settle the whole question.
905. You are very fortunate in getting the Dáil to do your trade unionism?—I think that is an unfair position to take up, because we have not asked the Dáil to do anything of the kind.
906. You have asked them to define the hours?—Every Government in the world regulates conditions of labour and employment. There is nothing new in that. It is frequently done by Governments because they wish to prevent trade unions having their full scope.
907. The Government did not take the initiative in the 1925 Act?—No, but the Deputies who constitute the majority of the Dáil, did.
908. Who took the initiative?—It was taken by a majority of the people elected to the Dáil.
909. Who took the initiative in introducing the Bill?—The smaller traders themselves.
910. Last July?—Yes; Senator Douglas is one of the small traders in Dublin.
911. I do not think he is such a small trader if you knew all about him?—He employs sixteen assistants, and some of the people calling themselves the Small Traders’ Association, employ as many as twenty-five.
912. He may have an interest in other concerns without your knowledge?— Some of the other smaller traders have an interest in other concerns.
913. He may have?—He may have; I do not know.
914. Deputy Johnson.—Did your Association request Senator Douglas to introduce the 1925 Bill?—No; the only representation made by us to Senator Douglas was that he should not include Section 6 in his Bill.
915. Deputy Hennessy.—You will remember the argument was—Senator Douglas used it, I suppose, in the Seanad—that the Bill was to give effect to an agreement between the assistants and the employers, and if I were satisfied that that agreement existed, I would not be a party to the present Bill?— When we come to the agreement I will be able to give you some more information.
916. Chairman.—As to paragraph 15, I think the important point is that you maintain special facilities have never been given to a particular section of a trade by legislation?—Yes, that that claim should not be admitted.
917. Deputy Wolfe.—They get the benefit of an hour as it is?—They do if the closing hour is 7.30. A number agreed to close at 6.30 and that gives them an hour extra.
918. Can you mention any other trades in which the legislature had regulated the hours, besides the drapery trade?— The licensed trade.
919. We can understand that. Any other one?—It has regulated the hours of workers in factories, for instance. The Trade Boards regulate the wages and hours of dressmakers and milliners in these very shops.
920. Would you not be satisfied with that?—Quite; if you give us the same machinery—I will accept the same machinery.
921. And leave it to the Board of Trade?—The Trade Board, not the Board of Trade. The Trade Board is a different thing.
922. That is not a statutory Board?— The Trades Boards Acts of 1909 and 1918 provide statutory powers; the Minister has power to bring this trade under the Board if he thinks fit.
923. Deputy Johnson.—You have asked for it?—We have asked to have the distributive trades included under that Board.
924. Deputy Hennessy.—Did you ask him to do it before the 1925 Act?— Every Trade Union Congress that has met since 1918 has asked him to do it.
925. Possibly that is why you are so keen on the 1925 Act—his failure to do so?—The two things are not related. A Trade Board, if set up, will cover many things that the 1925 Act did not cover. It covers wages, for instance.
926. Could you not deal with the hours apart from wages?—If you set up a Trade Board you cannot limit its jurisdiction except to keep it within the Act of 1918.
927. It could not deal with hours alone then?—No, nothing can limit its functions. A trade board is a statutory body with power to make regulations governing everything connected with work and employment. It is composed of representatives of workers and employers, with some additional persons nominated by the Minister. The Minister cannot interfere with it.
928. We will not bother any more about boards?—So far it has not been set up.
929. Deputy Johnson.—There is no board?—There is no trade board for the Distributive Trades.
930. Chairman.—We now come to paragraph 16. It is, I think, more or less a pious expression of opinion to the effect that the newcomers to the trade are really the people behind this?—A large number of them.
931. Deputy Hennessy.—What proportion of them?—It is very hard for me to say. All I do know is that the people I see active around the lobbies here are new openings practically, except one or two.
932. Is Mr. Cahill one?—No, but he signed the agreement of 1920.
933. Is Mr. Calvert?—No.
934. Is Mr. McMullen?—Not quite new.
935. Is Mr. Stokes?—I don’t know who Mr. Stokes is.
936. Is Mrs. Mulvey, Rathmines?—I cannot say.
937. Then there is Mrs. Joe McGuinness. I think I have exhausted the list of the lobbyists?—You forgot Mr. Guiney.
938. Deputy Johnson.—Can you give us the names of some new openings who, you are aware, are rather active in promoting this Bill?—I can only give names included on their own list as their supporters. I do not know how active they are. But included on their list as their supporters are: Collins, North Earl Street; Ballintine, Camden Street; Downey, South Richmond Street; Duke. North King Street; Duke, Capel Street
939. Deputy Hennessy.—Is that the same Duke?—They are two sisters, carrying on business at different addresses. The others are:—Duhig, Capel Street; Fraher, Talbot Street; Guiney, ditto; Gilmore, Amiens Street; Hammill, Ballsbridge; Kennedy and Behan, Talbot Street; Lucey, ditto; Maher and Tyrrell, Capel Street; McHale, Mary Street; O’Gorman, Talbot Street; Tighe, Parnell Street, and Warnock (that is McNally), Blessington Street.
940. You have only mentioned about a score?—These I know personally.
You know a lot of things personally, Mr. Duffy.
941. Deputy Johnson.—Are we to take it that Deputy Hennessy is denying the statement of Mr. Duffy?
Deputy Hennessy.—No; I am just appreciating the fact that he only mentioned a score, while it is alleged 400 are in favour of it.
Deputy Johnson.—Mr. Duffy was asked a certain question, and said that these were the cases he knew personally. The retort made by Deputy Hennessy was—and I ask if this is in order— “There are a lot of things you know personally, Mr. Duffy.” That, I think, is suggesting that he does not know these things personally?
Deputy Hennessy.—I realise that Mr. Duffy is in a position which entitles him to know a lot of things personally, and that is the reason I am rather trying to utilise a lot of the things he said by asking for percentages.
Witness.—I will give the percentages later when we come to paragraph 20.
942. Deputy Cooper.—Do you not think that in paragraph 16 you might modify the words “practically all,” because, as you have just said, you have not personal knowledge of all?—If you take the word “promoters” into consideration, I feel I am justified in saying that the people I have read out are the actual promoters of the Bill.
943. Deputy Hennessy.—Why do you say that? I have scarcely met one of these?—They have all been canvassing.
944. Deputy Cooper.—You admitted that certain names that Deputy Hennessy read out were not new openings. Therefore, do you not think that to say “practically all” is rather too sweeping a statement, and that you might substitute for this the words “a substantial number”?—Yes; I accept that.
945. We now come to paragraph 17. The important point in it is the final sentence, which reads:—“The proposal in the Bill, therefore, is a serious and a reactionary step that commends itself to only a very small minority of the traders of the city.” You mean to infer, I suppose, that if the present Bill passes into law, and that the hours are increased, it will have a reactionary effect on the relations between employers and employees?—The point I want to make is, that before any legislation is introduced, before the amending Bill or before the Act of 1925 was introduced, that traders desiring to remain open later than the existing closing hour, whether it was 6.30 or 7.30, were prepared to offer concessions to get 8 or 8.30. Now they are asking the Legislature to give them 9 o’clock without any concessions.
946. To whom did they make the concessions?—To the assistants. The position is that houses like Costello and Co., Earl Street, and Gorevan Brothers, who were previously closing at 6.30, now remain open until 8 or 8.30. They agreed with the assistants, in exchange for an extension of the hours on Saturday nights, to give them a full day on alternate Wednesdays, and to give them three weeks holidays with full pay, as well as to pay for their tea on Saturday nights when they were working.
947. That was rather liberal. I suggest, therefore, that there must be something in this late hour trading on Saturday night?—These employers all voted against the extension of the hour.
948. Did these employers ask the assistants to keep open?—Yes. They came to the assistants and said that their customers were being served by their neighbours, and that if their customers were served by their neighbours on a Saturday night that they would go back to them on a Monday morning. They pointed out that they were losing business, and more important still, that they were losing their customers not only on Saturday nights but during next week and next year, and that their assistants were losing in the matter of commission. They said to their assistants: “If you work on until 8 or 8.30 we will give you these concessions.” The assistants agreed in some of these cases. Mr. Moran, of Moran and Son, offered the same concessions, but his assistants would not agree.
949. The demand for the change arose from the fact that their neighbours were not closing at the hour in the agreement, and that as a consequence those who were loyal to the agreement were losing trade. This was an attempt to meet what they thought to be unfair competition?—It was not so much a question with them of losing trade on Saturday nights, but rather of permanently losing their customers. That was what they regarded as the important thing. One of the traders concerned, Messrs. Gorevan Brothers, are members of the Merchant Drapers’ Association, and they have sent a witness here to oppose the extension of hours.
950. In other words, there was business to be done, and they thought it was worth their while to give their assistants this?—I am suggesting that is not the reason. They are sending a witness here to oppose the extension of hours.
951. If there was no trade to be done for the 30s. that you mentioned, what number of customers could they lose?— Mr. Moran, I think, explained that yesterday, when he stated that the people who remained open until 9 o’clock on a Saturday night were as competent to serve the public as he was. In other words, if a customer of his went to a shop next door that was open and got served on a Saturday night, the customer in all probability went back there on Monday morning and got something else.
952. The volume of business, you say in another part of your evidence, was so little that 30s. would cover it. What loss could that be to Mr. Moran or any other?—Assuming that there are twenty assistants in a firm, each taking 30s. on a Saturday night, that gives you a sum of £30 for a Saturday night, and remember the taking of that sum may represent sixty customers.
953. Now you are saying it is a matter of each assistant taking 30s.?—That is my evidence all the time.
954. I am satisfied if you say that there is business to be done?—I am stating facts.
955. Are you of opinion that the trade done between 7.30 and 9 o’clock on Saturday is usually of the small purchase kind—that is to say, that you might have twenty customers going into a shop for articles value one shilling. It is not so much a question of people going in and making expensive purchases, but rather the fact that people go in and make small purchases, thus establishing a connection with a house?—In these houses where there is a late Saturday night trade done it is customary to close up certain departments like the millinery and mantles, and to transfer all the assistants to the hosiery and other departments, where articles, such as stockings at 1s., caps, aprons and so on are sold.
956. Deputy Hennessy.—The shopkeepers who close at 6 o’clock on Saturday evening, if they can keep open until 7.30 stand to lose business also?—That is the type Mr. Moran represents.
957. They stand to lose a bit in that hour and a-half?—They do, but they are not making that case so far as I understand from their correspondence. They claim they are losing customers, but they are pretty busy up to 6.30.
958. There is just another point. Reference is made in this paragraph to a closing hour at 8 o’clock. Do you wish to draw any special attention to it?—I would refer to two statements made already. Senator O’Dea, speaking, as he said, on behalf of the small traders, on the 25th June last in the Seanad stated: “I had an opportunity of seeing traders interested. They were willing to have a compromise, and suggested that if the hour was fixed at 8 o’clock they would co-operate.” Dr. Hennessy, speaking on the 3rd July in the Dáil, said: “I would agree to have 8 o’clock fixed as the closing hour.” Again Dr. Hennessy says, according to the Official Report, Vol. 13, No. 10, Col. 924: “We would be satisfied, if the demand be made at a later stage, to give a forty-six hour week.” There was no case ever made, and no suggestion ever made for a 9 o’clock closing until this Bill was introduced. The small traders from Camden street and other centres who interviewed me in connection with these closing hours during the past five years never made any case for a closing hour later than 8 o’clock. They merely pleaded that 7.30 p.m. was inconvenient.
Deputy Hennessy.—The reason I said 8 o’clock was that I thought I might get an extra half-hour. I knew I was being beaten.
Witness.—Dr. Hennessy was willing to make it 8.30.
Deputy Hennessy.—That was my own case. It was not the wish of the traders. I thought I might carry 8.30.
Witness.—Another point of some importance is this: The small traders in their evidence and in their précis of evidence made the case that it was part of their undertaking that application would be made to the Corporation for a closing order at 7.30. They were agreeable to a 7.30 closing order provided it was made compulsory by the Corporation.
959. Deputy Hennessy.—Where did they say that?—In the précis of evidence. They said there was an agreement made in 1920 and it was made conditional on the Corporation being asked to make a closing order. Therefore, if that is their view they should not have any objection to the Legislature making a closing order at that hour.
960. You say a vote was taken then. Was it between 7.30 and 10.30?—The proposal was to amend the 10 o’clock Order and make it 7.30 o’clock.
Chairman.—I think we dealt with this matter yesterday in connection with paragraph 1 in your statement. There is no use in going over the same ground again. It seems to me to be a repetition.
Deputy Hennessy.—It is quite a serious thing to say that these parties were agreeable to close at 7.30.
Witness.—I did not deal with it yesterday. If you refer to the précis of evidence presented by Mr. Calvert, you will find him making the point there in reference to the Gresham Hotel meeting, and you will find him stating the agreement was made on condition that 7.30 would be made the legal closing hour.
Deputy Hennessy.—If they said that, these people were not entitled to speak for the small shopkeeper because the vote does not show that. Mr. Moran described a meeting which was attended only by a few individuals.
961. We will pass on to paragraph 18. I am really not quite clear as to what is the meaning of this paragraph. You say: “We suggest that to retain the existing closing hour, and by strengthening the Act and extending its scope to ensure that all traders handling drapery, hosiery, haberdashery, fancy goods, boots, tailoring, house-furnishing, etc., would best promote the interests of the business for all parties.” Further down you say: “In small wares, such as are usually sold in ladies’ outfitting departments, firms like Woolworth’s, the bazaars (Marks’ for instance), and the auction rooms do the biggest business. The auction rooms alone, although they pay no rates to the city, or tax to the State, and are merely fleecing the public, take up to £60,000 or £70,000 a year at the afternoon and night sales.” What bearing has that?—Here is one of the things that I refer to. This is an advertisement which appeared in the “Evening Herald” of the 8th instant from people having a room on the second floor in 6a Henry Street, and calling themselves the “Lost Property Office.” They do more business, and the auction rooms in Henry Street and in Grafton Street do more business, than all the small traders in Dublin combined, by auctions or sales. They seem to be free from any restriction. I am suggesting that these small traders do not do a fraction of the business done by those people I have mentioned, who are all foreigners. It is a low estimate to say that these people would take anything up to fifty or sixty pounds a week in one of these auction rooms, and up to a hundred pounds in many cases.
962. Deputy Cooper.—What do they sell in these auction rooms? Is it not largely clocks and jewellery?—They sell also rugs, boots, hosiery, curtains, scarfs and so on.
963. Would you say that is the greater part of their business?—It would not be the greater part of their business, but it would be a substantial part of it. For instance, this advertisement here states: “Special lines in ladies’ velour coats, black animal-shaped fur stoles, ladies’ waterproof coats, ladies’ umbrellas, dance frocks, suit cases and week-end bags, and Japanese floor mats.”
964. You told us in your earlier evidence that no sensible person would buy a suit of clothes at 8 o’clock on Saturday night. Do you think that any sensible woman would buy a dance frock at 8 o’clock at night?—I do not think a sensible woman would.
965. Deputy Hennessy.—These are what they call the “moctioneers”?— Yes.
Deputy Hennessy.—Barney Delaney is one of them, and he is not a foreigner.
Witness.—I am suggesting that you might insert in the Bill a provision that would cover these people and would shut their places at the recognised hour. It would serve the shopkeepers more than anything else.
966. Deputy Cooper.—I would like to point out that we must, in amending the Bill, keep within the title of the Bill. I am very doubtful whether it would be possible if the majority of the trade carried on in these places is not drapery, to bring them within the Bill?—I think if drapery, hosiery, hats and gloves and such articles are sold in a shop, whether they are a substantial part of the trade or not, it should be obliged to close at 7.30.
967. Deputy Hennessy.—These are the trades mentioned in the 1925 Act?—My point is this: any shop in which these things are sold, whether as part of the business or the main business, is affected by the Act. Woolworth’s, for instance, is, I believe, affected by the Act.
Deputy Cooper.—If the auctioneer found himself hampered by a closing order he would only have to stop selling dance frocks and other such things, but he could still carry on his jewellery trade.
968. Chairman.—It states in Clause 3 of the Act that “any shop in the area in which the Act applies, in which the trade of draper, tailor, outfitter, hatter, hosier, glove, boot and shoe dealer or house-furnisher and upholsterer, or any of them is carried on, shall not remain open, etc.” So that the Act would apply wherever any of these trades are carried on?—I would go further, and say that if they carry on any of these trades at all, they must shut for all trades.
969. Your point is that the Act should cover everything?—Yes, that is what it does actually. My contention is that, if it is part of Woolworth’s business to sell hosiery, they should be and they are in fact, if the law is enforced, obliged to close their shops at 7.30 on Saturday night.
970. Deputy Johnson.—It depends on what is the definition of “shop”?—I have been in these shops, and I know they can evade the Act under present conditions. If you buy one article after hours you may, for instance, get a velour hat as a present with it.
971. Would there be any public advantage in Woolworth’s closing at 7.30?—I do not wish to express a view on that. It depends on what is meant by public advantage.
972. What wages do Woolworth’s pay? —They are paying as low as 3/6 a week for part-time work.
973. What is the full-time wages?— They pay up to £1 or 17/- a week.
Chairman.—We are getting away from the point at issue. We had better see that there is no irrelevancy. I think the point is this, that there was an agreement for a closing hour.
Deputy Cooper.—We have the resolution already in Mr. Moran’s evidence.
Chairman.—We dealt with that yesterday in Mr. Moran’s précis of evidence.
974. Deputy Hennessy.—Are you satisfied with the way it was dealt with yesterday?—No, sir. I will give you further information. A list was circulated by the small traders in June last, a list of their supporters. Twenty-one persons on that list did make an agreement, either by being parties to the agreement, Mr. Moran referred to, or by making separate agreements. I will give you the names.
Deputy Hennessy.—You need not worry about it, because we have dealt with that.
Witness.—We have certain agreements with these firms.
Deputy Hennessy.—The fact that you mention only 21 persons takes from the value of your allegation.
Witness.—On your list there are 21 such persons, and they represent the weight of the traders supporting this Bill.
Deputy Hennessy.—I do not think we can go into that.
Witness.—I can give you the figures of the valuations.
Deputy Hennessy.—They are liable to change their minds. They only speak for themselves as individuals; they do not speak for any association or trade.
975. Chairman.—Paragraphs 20, 21 and 22 will be taken together. You have a summary of a statement prepared for each member of the Committee?—I handed in a statement yesterday entitled “Supplementary Statement.”
Deputy Hennessy.—The statement has not been circulated. There was not time to have it typed and circulated.
976. Chairman.—Perhaps you had better elaborate that statement?—The statement I wish to refer to is the quotation in paragraph 20 from a circular issued by Mr. Calvert’s organisation in June last. I have a copy of the circular here, and it has been circulated to all Deputies. There seemed to be a good deal of confusion about the number of people for whom the small traders spoke. Deputy O Maille said on the 30th June in the Dáil that he had been speaking to a gentleman outside who had 200 signatures. Deputy Dr. Hennessy on the 3rd July said that 250 shopkeepers had signed. The small traders in their circular said “we represent over 400 small traders.”
Deputy Johnson.—I think it would be better, Mr. Duffy, if you did not make the case in that way, but gave your facts as you know them, apart from what other people said in the matter.
Witness.—Very well. There are altogether in the City of Dublin and the townships referred to in the Act of 1925 and the Bill you are considering a total of 1,021 premises affected.
977. Deputy Hennessy.—Are these premises distinct shops?—Yes; distinct shops. I will give you the valuation of each.
978. That does not mean that people like Lee’s, for instance, have each of their shops treated as separate firms?— they are all separate, yes. The actual number on the list circulated to the Deputies by the small traders is 204. Five names on that list were duplicated. In other words, you will get a name like Sullivan under the letter “S” and the same name with the same address under the letter “O.”
979. Deputy Thrift.—The list would then be 199?—Yes; that is the correct total on the small traders’ list, after deleting the five duplications. Of these, 27 people included in the list were not traders within the meaning of the Act, reducing the total number of traders to 172. That is, 849 traders were not included on the list. If we refer to the total of 172 we find that 90 of them do not employ assistants and are not restricted by the Act of 1925. Twenty-one of them did, at some one stage, in 1920 or subsequently, some as late as 1923, agree to close their premises at 7.30 or earlier, and 19 of them are not dependent upon the shops as a means of livelihood; in other words, they work elsewhere.
980. Deputy Cooper.—Are these 19 included in the 90 who do not employ assistants?—No, sir, they are not. There are 19 people who have opened within the last two years amongst that 172. That tots 149, and leaves 23 unaccounted for. Now, one other calculation: only 13 of the 172 shops employ 5 paid people or more, and of these 13, 10 at one time agreed to close at 7.30 or earlier.
981. Deputy Hennessy.—Is this embodied in the supplementary document you handed in?—It is, I do not say so fully, but something in that form.
Chairman.—It is rather hard to follow this statement of yours, Mr. Duffy.
982. Deputy Thrift.—Before you leave that, would you explain about the 90 who do not employ assistants?—They are not restricted by the Act of 1925. They are excluded under Section 6.
983. Your suggestion is that they are opposing the Amending Bill because it removes Section 6?—Well, my own feeling is that they are not interested in the Amending Bill; they have no grievance against the Act of 1925. On the point of taxation, that is the second point they made, that they paid half the taxation of the trade——
984. Let us understand what is meant by taxation. Is it rates or is it taxes? Is it to the National Government or to the local authority?—If it is taxation proper it means the payment of income tax and excess profits and taxation of that kind. I think the case was that they were not making money to pay income tax or excess profits tax. I take it that the taxation referred to is local taxation.
985. Local rates?—Yes, the local rates as paid on the poor law valuation. The total amount of the poor law valuation of the 1,021 premises concerned is £99,994. Taking the 142 small traders, their total poor law valuation is £7,491; in other words, 7.5 per cent. of the total. If you take O’Connell Street alone as a case in point, every firm in O’Connell Street, with one exception, is a late shopping house; only Clery and Co. close at 1 o’clock on Saturday; all the other are competing for the Saturday night trade. Every house in O’Connell Street is in favour of the 7.30 closing as provided by the Act of 1925, and their valuation, practically to £100, equals the total valuation of the 172 traders quoted in favour of the Amending Bill. The next point is the number of employees. We have various estimates of the number of employees from 33⅓ per cent. to 50 per cent., and one Deputy said that at least 810 of the employees would lose their positions because the Act of 1925 was passed. Now the position is this: The total number of employees in the trade, taking Dublin City and townships, is 6,709. The small traders employ 5.2 per cent.—353 altogether—that is the 172—including milliners and dressmakers.
986. Deputy Wolfe.—But 6,749 is the total number?—The total number in Dublin City and townships, the number of employees in the townships being 231. Now, if you take Rathmines alone, Lee and Co. in their Rathmines shop employ 50 per cent. more assistants than all the other traders in Rathmines looking for an extension of the Saturday closing hours. Lee and Co. is a late shopping house. They compete with the other houses. They are paying as much in rates to the Rathmines Local Authority as all the other traders combined who are interested in the matter. On the question of valuation, I want to say just one other word. The average valuation of the 172 traders asking for an extension of the closing hour is £32. Houses like Clery’s and Pim’s pay practically as much as half of these.
987. Do you wish to deal with the question of the amount of capital employed by the traders as a whole?—That is a rather important point?—It is. In correspondence in the newspapers we invited the small traders to prove to us that they owned 10 per cent. of the capital, and they refused to attempt to prove that they did. I am suggesting that the percentages we have here will indicate the capital. The premises affected, that is the 82 who are quoted as supporters of this Bill. That is to say you subtract from the 172 the 90 I have mentioned and there remains 82. That is 8 per cent. of the total. They employ 5.2 per cent. of the total employes and they pay in taxation 7.5 per cent. of the total. Now the disparity between the capital employed would be even greater. Clery and Co. have a capital of almost £200,000; I suggest their capital amounts to more than half the total amount of the capital employed by the 82 traders to whom I have been referring.
988. You say there are 1,021 shops or premises that would be affected adversely by this Bill, and to your own satisfaction you cut down the number of people interested to 172?—I will give you the names of everybody that I have eliminated.
989. You need not worry about that. What I want to get at are the figures. Now you make out that of this 172, five names were duplicated. There is a certain suggestion there of dishonesty?—I am suggesting nothing. I will explain it to you in this way. Your lists or the lists supplied to you by the promoters of the Bill are arranged alphabetically; under the head of Rea and Co., of Rathgar Road, you will find that there are two names for that shop on the list. Under the heading “B” you find the firm of Brady and Higgins, and later on for the same address you will find the name of Higgins and Brady. That explains it.
990. Deputy Johnson.—You are not suggesting that this has been done through any bad motive at all?—Not at all.
991. Deputy Hennessy.—Would either of these people that you mention have two shops?—No, because you will find in the list that the address is the same.
992. Well, so long as you do not say that it is done through dishonesty I will not pursue it?—Oh, not at all; it is only a matter of the arrangement of the names alphabetically.
993. You think that only a small number of these are interested in the present arrangement, and in having it changed and you cut them down to 172?—I will tell you about it again and how that works out——
994. There were 172, you say?—Those 172 were affected in June last, but the 90 people who employed no assistants are not now affected.
995. There are, you say, 1,021 altogether. How is it that the 1,021 cut such a sorry show in the plebiscite?— How is it that a thousand and one of the ordinary citizens show such little interest in anything?
996. But there is a vote taken and these people were in a minority?—In the Parliamentary elections in Denmark they were obliged, in order to make the people come to the poll, to pass a law making voting compulsory.
997. But this was a matter that concerned these shops themselves?—Yes, but no matter what it concerns, most people are nearly always apathetic.
998. But does it not show that the people who abstained have no interests, and that they were not keen about the election, and the presumption is that if they were keen and deeply interested in this matter they would vote?
999. Deputy Cooper.—Are we not arguing on a false basis? Was not that plebiscite confined to the city?
1000. Deputy Hennessy.—I will meet Deputy Cooper there in a moment. Will the Witness tell me how many of these 1,021 shops are in the Borough of Dublin, and then we will get it another way by analysis?—To the 733 you have got to add the new trades covered by this Act, such as house-furnishers, etc., and which were not covered by the plebiscite of 1923. For that you must add the new openers in the City of Dublin and 112 traders in the townships.
1001. How many would that be?—I calculate that there are 127 house-furnishers and new traders not covered by the plebiscite of 1923, and on top of that is to be added the names of 47 traders who are not included.
1002. What proportion of the 1,021, that is the total of the shops and premises, would be in the City of Dublin— the Borough of Dublin?—I should say, probably 900.
1003. Deputy Johnson.—Did you not give us 231 shops as being in the townships?—No, I said 231 assistants in the 112 shops in the township.
1004. Deputy Wolfe.—How many assistants are there in the 1,021 shops?—I would only have to subtract the number of assistants in the townships. The total number of assistants affected in the city is 6,518.
1005. Deputy Hennessy.—Of those in the Borough of Dublin, how many were eligible to vote in the 1923 plebiscite?— It would be hard to tell.
1006. But the actual number is there? —721 were not registered there. That does not mean that every shop in Dublin is registered.
1007. But take these 721 shops?—But the onus is on the shopkeepers.
Deputy Johnson.—I think there is a little misunderstanding here. This Bill covers more than the plebiscite covers. It covers millinery business and so on?— Well, the plebiscite covered only the drapery trade, outfitting, and boot dealers.
1008. Deputy Hennessy. — Notwithstanding that number, how do you explain that their vote was so small?—I cannot explain it at all. They simply did not vote.
1009. Deputy Cooper.—I want to ask you one very small question. You told us there were 231 assistants in the townships?—Yes.
1010. Have you any idea how many of these are employed by Lee’s?—Yes. I could tell you in two or three minutes. I should say almost half.
1011. Approximately 50 per cent.?— Yes.
1012. How many branches of Lee’s are there in the townships?—Two, one at Dun Laoghaire and one at Rathmines, and between the two of them they employed about 50 per cent. of the assistants? Yes, about 50 per cent. It would roughly be about 70 assistants in the two shops.
1013. I am somewhat puzzled over those 90 who do not employ assistants. I am surprised to find these in the list applying for the Amending Bill. How do you account for that?—They are not in the list applying for the Amending Bill. But they are used. The list includes names which were used against the Act of 1925.
1014. That is, you really wish to make the point that they are not really in support of the Amending Bill?—I cannot see how they have any grievance against the Act that is already in force.
1015. You think that on the contrary it is to their advantage?—Yes.
1016. The small traders’ list does not contain a number of those who are in favour of the present Bill or in favour of an amendment to the 1925 Act?—The large traders do not contain the names of all their supporters either. I mean we have not got them all here in our list.
1017. Yes, but that is not the point about being a member of the Association. It is the potential number in favour of the amendment?—I do not know what the point is.
1018. The small traders say that they have more supporters than appear signed to the Bill?—My answer to that is that they have supporters on their lists from whom we have documents telling us that they were never in support of this Bill.
Deputy Hennessy.—We also have documents even from the Merchants’ Association saying they never were a party to signing the resolution itself.
1019. Deputy Johnson.—Will you allow one to cancel the other?
Deputy Hennessy.—I will not.
1020. Chairman.—Now we come to the next paragraph, paragraph 23. I think the only point you wish to make there is that insolvency amongst the small traders and unemployment amongst the assistants has not followed the passing of the Act of 1925?—My point is that the people who were compelled to close
have not become insolvent. Some people who were not compelled to close have become insolvent.
1021. There is a point there with regard to the 3,000 assistants who signed the memorial in opposition to this Bill, which I would like to see cleared up. You told us just now that there was double that number of assistants employed by the shops who wished to keep open. How do you explain the discrepancy between these numbers?—There is no relationship between them at all.
1022. Do you bring the number up to 3,000 by including the employees of the shops who do not wish to keep open now, but who will find themselves forced to keep open by competition if this Bill is passed?—Yes. And with regard to this matter of the 3,000 who signed that memorial I want to explain that we gave notice that on a certain day the petition would be opened in our office for signature. At the end of two days we were told that it was not required, and we closed the petition. In the interval almost 3,000 people had signed it, and they are employed in all the houses in the city.
1023. They might be in Grafton Street?—Yes, and the Deputy will understand that the Bill affects them all so long as it contains a provision limiting the closing hours.
1024. We now come to paragraph 24, and I do not think there is anything in that that we need discuss. The subject of it was dealt in the evidence submitted by Mr. Moran, and was discussed very fully?—There is only just one point; when it is said that a shop closes at 7.30 o’clock that does not mean that the shop assistants are finished work.
1025. And the further point that the assistant is delayed longer after closing hours in the small shop than in the big one?—Yes, in a house like Pim Bros. the staff got finished at the closing hour.
Chairman.—With regard to the next paragraph, 25, the point you are trying to make there is that bad wages and bad conditions generally prevail in shops that close late?—I can give you comparative figures if you so desire.
1027. I do not think it is necessary to go into much detail, but if you could give us a few examples it would be sufficient? —Very well. A girl in her first year in the smallest establishment covered by the Merchant Drapers’ Association gets 15/- a week. It is the same with the boy in his first year. They are both paid the same in that case. The rates in the houses covered by Mr. Calvert’s Association are 3/6 to 4/- per week for the same period.
1028. Deputy Wolfe.—With food?— No, living outdoor. There is no “indoor” living for assistants now except in a very few cases.
1029. Deputy Cooper.—What would be the age of such a girl?—Fifteen or sixteen.
1030. Deputy Hennessy.—She would be serving her apprenticeship?—We do not refer at all to apprentices nowadays.
1031. Are apprentices when trained paid the full rate?—They get so much one year, so much the second year, and so on. There is no apprentice in the Dublin trade now.
1032. But these girls have to learn their business, and it is while learning their business that you refer to this rate of wages?—Yes.
1033. Deputy Johnson.—In other shops if you call them apprentices the term applies to both classes of establishments? —Yes. When a girl is out of apprenticeship or has three years’ experience in any of the houses covered by the Merchant Drapers’ Association, or if she is in Mr. Moran’s premises or Gorevan’s, she will get 45/- a week less 4/6, I think, which would leave 40/6 for every girl in her fourth year. The wages prevailing in Camden street and other places in houses covered by the small Drapers’ Association would be 10/- to 20/- for girls of similar standing, that is less than half.
1034. My instructions, as the lawyers say, are that they deny that. Is your statement true of all members of the Small Drapers’ Association?—Well, I have in mind a large number with whom I come in contact. There may be exceptions, but I am not aware of them.
1035. Would there be many exceptions? —No, but I say there might be a few.
1036. Take a man who is a member of the Merchant Drapers’ Association, and left it, and became a member of the Small Drapers’ Association, would he be an offender simply because he became a member of the smaller body of traders? —No, that would not follow.
1037. Have you any instance as to the wages paid by those against the scheme being low?—It is quite possible, and it is also quite possible that there are people in favour of this Bill who pay high wages.
1038. Why did you make it such a particular concern to know all about the delinquencies of the smaller traders, while you did not do anything to find out those of the traders against the Bill?—Because I had the names in the one case and not in the other. If you give me the names now I will tell you.
1039. I have not got the names, but it is your duty and your business to know them?—There were 172 names of firms circulated by the small traders as supporters, and I know them in a general way.
1040. And the fact is that you did not concern yourself about your own supporters?—I know all about them if you tell me the names of the firms you want to know about.
1041. I do not know them; I am only looking for information. You admit there are exceptions, and exceptions might be very numerous?—No, that is not so.
1042. The only organised people opposing this Bill are the Merchant Drapers? —That is so.
1043. I gather from you that the houses of the Merchant Drapers’ Association are more satisfactory than those supporting this Bill?—The rates I have quoted there are the lowest paid by the Merchant Drapers’ Association; they have three scales, and those are the lowest for Talbot Street and Camden Street.
1044. But the general position is that wages are more satisfactory than in the establishments of the members of the small associations?—Very much more.
1045. But they have only 27 members out of 1,021?—Yes; but of course some of these are in the townships where they are closing at 6.30 o’clock.
1046. So you would have a big field of work to find out the conditions in the houses outside the 27?—Quite so.
1047. Deputy Johnson.—Is it your experience of trade, because I understand your Association covers all classes of distributive work, that small shops with small trade do business generally in a manner which renders them only capable of paying small wages and demanding extended hours, generally outside the agreements entered into by reputable employers and employees?—Our experience in negotiating with the smaller traders shows that they always claim privileges in regard to wages and conditions because they are small traders, and they will not conform to regulations.
1048. Deputy Cooper.—There are exceptions to that rule?—There are exceptions, but I am speaking of the general body.
1049. You would not say that Woolworth’s, though trading in small articles, with branches all over the world, is a small trader?—No; but the conditions are very bad in houses like that.
1050. Deputy Hennessy.—Has the capacity of the assistant anything to do with the question of wages?—Experience is not the only thing that has to do with the enforcing of better wages.
1051. Deputy Johnson.—Has the capacity of the assistant anything to do with the selection by an employer of an assistant?—Everything. The employer, big or small, always looks for the best men at the lowest rates of pay.
1052. Deputy Hennessy.—So it has something to say to it.
Chairman.—That finishes Mr. Duffy’s evidence.
Deputy Johnson.—A good deal of emphasis has been laid upon the plebiscite, and I think it was denied to Mr. Duffy, and probably rightly denied, that he should produce evidence showing the character of the plebiscite and the importance to which it is entitled. I think in view of the emphasis laid upon that plebiscite we should have some definite evidence as to the character of it, and perhaps that could be obtained from the Town Clerk or his office. If the Committee is satisfied to have the record looked up by the Committee Clerk I would be quite agreeable, but I think it is essential that it should be made quite clear what the plebiscite was and whether it was entitled to be registered.
Chairman.—Very well; the Committee Clerk will get that information. We need not call the Town Clerk as a witness.
The Committee adjourned until 11 o’clock on Wednesday, 20th January, 1926.