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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6231


Mr THOMAS (BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. After the strike things were a little more mixed, and a number of persons were placed on the black list. A Mr. Greenhalgh, who was working as an engineer for the Block 10 Company, was boycotted, not being allowed to obtain work in Broken Hill. I suggested that he should try to get work in Adelaide. We went there together, and on arrival he was met in the street by a man whom he knew as associated with one of the large engineering firms there. This man told him-, "You will get no work in Adelaide. Immediately you left Broken Hill, we received a telegram saying that you would come here to look for work, and instructing us that you were not to be employed." If any of the mine managers at Broken Hill dismisses a man for a reason which he thinks to be beyond the ordinary, he submits his name to the secretary of the Mine Managers' Association, whose duty it is to communicate the fact of the dismissal to each of the other mine managers, and, consequently, the man is not only notallowed to obtain work again from the company from whose service he has been dismissed, but is unable to obtain employment from any of the other companies in the town. Some years ago a man named Williams was working for the Proprietary Company under a contract. Previous to the visit of the New South Wales Arbitration Court to Broken Hill, those working under contracts in that company's mine were dismissed if they broke them, although the company could break them at any time. Williams' contract was broken in this way, and, on taking the matter into Court, he compelled the company to pay him what was due to him. But, as a result, he was boycotted. A document, signed by Mr. Horwood, the manager of the Proprietary Company, containing a description of Williams, was sent to the managers of all the other mines. At any rate, a copy was sent to Mr. Phillips, the manager of the Junction, and it came into our possession.


Mr Knox - This was a good many years ago.


Mr THOMAS - It was while I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament. I was asked by the Association to consult a barrister as to whether the action of the mine managers was not a conspiracy to prevent Williams from following his lawful occupation, and, on. consulting the honorable and learned member for Angas, we were informed that we could not proceed unless we could definitely prove that other mine managers besides Phillips had received copies of the document. With Mr. Cann, who now represents Broken Hill in the State Legislature, I saw the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was at the time Prime Minister, and AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, and thehonorable member for Parramatta, who was then Secretary for Mines ; but nothing could be done. The Proprietary Company, however, is still acting in the same way, and', as the honorable member for Kooyong is its managing director, he is the last man in the Committee who should have moved such an amendment as this. If the honorable member thinks that boycotting is wrong, he should prevent his own crowd from boycotting. The mine manager of the Proprietary is his servant, and he could, if he wished to do so, put a stop to the practices to which I have referred. Captain Jack Warren, the manager of Block 10, told Greenhalgh that he would take him back but for the fact that his directors had instructed him that Greenhalgh and several others were not to be again employed. I have referred to these cases to show that the employers of Australia resort to the boycott. If the workers, who are in a majority, will not use the powers which they possess as electors, to protect themselves against such action, they must suffer the consequences. But the honorable member for Kooyong, before trying to prevent them from boycotting when they have the opportunity, should pre- i vent the companies which he controls from using the boycott. I do not say that a man who misbehaves or does not do his work should not be dismissed by his employers, but it is going too far to say that he should not obtain employment from any one else. There would be a certain amount of fairness in the amendment if the honorable member applied the same penalties to all. But his great anxiety is lest the workers shall use the boycott.


Mr McWilliams - Would it not be better to prevent either party from using it?


Mr THOMAS - There are occasions when boycotting is absolutely justifiable, and it is certainly unfair to prevent men from boycotting, when their employers boycott them. I trust that the honorable member will withdraw the amendment, and allow us to get on with the Bill. Perhaps he will not be prepared to accept the amendment suggested by me before he has had an opportunity of consulting the Chamber of Commerce, because it might not suit the members of that body. As the proposed new clause stands at present, it would be unjust in its operation, and, if it is pressed, I shall certainly vote against it.

Mr. GLYNN(Angas). - I would urge the honorable member for Kooyong to withdraw his amendment. I agree with the honorable member for Bland and the AttorneyGeneral. I do not think that we have the power to pass the amendment. Moreover, if the evils at which it is aimed do arise, the laws of the States will suffice. As we have passed clause 73, we should stultify ourselves if we immediately afterwards adopted another provision intended to stop certain developments that were likely to follow. In the first place, we should not pass a provision thatwould be unconstitutional ; and, in the second place, we should not anticipate any evils that may arise under the clause to which we have agreed. In addition to this, I think that the proposal of the honorable member goes a little further than he intends, because it makes an invidious distinction.







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