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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr TUDOR (Yarra) .-It was not my intention to speak to the amendment, as the principle involved has already been ably dealt with by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). As a trade unionist of many years, not only in Australia, but in other countries where ballots are taken, I am able to say that on the question of striking the women always support their husbands. On a recent occasion, at Broken Hill, in connexion with the present strike, the election of officers turned on the question of whether there should be a ballot in connexion with the strike, and although the officers opposed it, they were , returned by large majorities. In the felt-hat making industry, in which I was employed in Great Britain, there are as many female as male workers, and in connexion with one industrial disturbance in particular that occurred in that industry while I was working there, the women were as keen on striking as were the men. Any one who has a knowledge of the conditions obtaining in the north ofEngland twenty or thirty years ago knows that married as well as single women work because they do not receive sufficient from other sources. On the occasion to which I have referred the women held a meeting the night before the men and decided that as they had been locked out they would go without strike pay for the first month, and the men carried a similar resolution the next night.

Mr Bamford - If such is the case, why oppose the amendment?

Mr TUDOR - I am surprised that the honorable member for Herbert, who, I believe, is an old trade unionist, should submit such an amendment. I know of an instance in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, where women workers were dissatisfied because a non-unionist had been brought into a factory, and they said that unless that non-unionist was dismissed they would walk out; and they did walk out, and they waited until they were sent for. This clearly shows that the women are as good unionists as the men, and if they are asked to vote they will always be in favour of. fighting for better conditions. It must be remembered that there are lockouts as well as strikes, and the " bosses " will always take care to keep on inflicting pinpricks until the men or women are compelled to cease work. It is not only a question of making a demand on the employers for improved conditions, because employers can find thousands of ways of aggravating men in spite of the law.

Mr Richard Foster - Last week simple boys closed a coal mine.

Mr Makin - They were not very simple, then.

Mr Richard Foster - The country is simple to allow it. It is the simple boys who run the show to-day.

Mr TUDOR - To the best of my knowledge, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has had no experience of industrial matters, from the stand-point of a trade unionist. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) would not tell the same tale as has the honorable members for Dampier and Wakefield. However, since the Minister says the Government has no intention of accepting the amendment, it may be regarded' as foredoomed.

Mr.FENTON (Maribyrnong) [8.46]. - I am rather surprised at honorable members opposite croaking about the way in which Australia has been ridden with strikes. The Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) administered a rebuke only a few days ago to those who prate about the bad conditions existing here. He remarked that, having returned home from his travels, he had been impressed with the fact that Australia is one of the best countries in which to invest money today. The printers in this State recently had a dispute, and the employees were out for three months. Then a conference was called, over which the Premier of Victoria (Mr. Lawson) presided. Among those who had been on strike were numbers of women and girls. As an outcome of the round-table conference, the men in the trade agreed to accept the conditions laid down, but those who stuck out for still better conditions and were prepared to continue to fight for them, and to remain out of work until they were conceded, were the women. ,

Mr Richard Foster - Young women, or girls; not wives and mothers with responsibilities.

Mr FENTON - It is the women who put up the stoutest fight. When there was a strike of miners in New South Wales some time ago, the keenest were the coal-miners' wives. They told their men that if they went back they would not own them as their husbands ; and they were so incensed against the " blacklegs " that numbers of. women actually pelted them with lumps of coal. When it comes to striking, and sticking out, the women will beat the men every time.

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