11 MARCH 1865, Page 1

The iron trade is on the brink of a great

calamity. There has existed for some time a kind of agreement between the ironmastere

and the puddlers that the men shall have as daily wages ls. in the 1/. of the price,—if that is 81. they will have 8s., and so on. Recently iron falling, the masters might have reduced, but waited until, being able to wait no longer, they made the re- duction. The men generally yielded, but the puddlers of North Staffordshire refused and struck, relying on contributions from the trade generally. Thereupon the masters, who also form a Union, threatened that unless the North Staffordshire men gave way they would to-day commence a general lock-out. The Unions have in vain tried to induce the men to submit, and by the latest news on Friday it appears that to day every forge in Great Britain and Wales will be closed, at a loss to the men of 120,0001. per week in wages alone, and to the country of an amount frightful to con- template. The action of the masters appears at first eight harsh, but the case is very peculiar, the puddlers really dictating to the mass of the workers as well as to the employers, and using their power most determinately. We trust the quarrel will end in a combined committee, but Mr. Gladstone should look into the ques- tion of these strikes. He is the only member of the Cabinet not afraid to move, and the evil cannot be beyond remedy. Suppose we have an official arbitrator to act as ex-officio chairman of the combined committee of each trade? Its resolutions would then have a moral weight almost as effective as law.