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Thursday, 17 September 1942

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) .-I do not intend to say anything on the general subject of preference to unionists, because compulsory unionism has existed in Queensland for many years, and I know that my two sons could not be employed in my own office unless they were members of their union. I desire, however, to discuss one aspect of this matter which has had little consideration and which entirely escaped the attention of the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). I refer to the position of men when they are conscripted by the Allied Works Council. Those men are compelled to join the union. Other workers, if they do not like the conditions attaching to the job which they are offered - and those conditions include membership of the union - need not accept it, but men conscripted by the Allied Works Council are in an entirely different category. They have no option of refusal. Indeed, their position is very difficult, because they not only have to respond to the call-up but also have to go wherever the country needs them, and very often have to leave their families at home.

Dr Evatt - Does the honorable member say that they have to join the union when they work under the Allied Works Council?

Mr JOLLY - The Allied Works Council compels them to do so.

Dr Evatt - That is not so.

Mr JOLLY - The Allied Works Council deducts the union membership fees from their pay.

Dr Evatt - Not unless they authorize it to do so. I am informed by the Director of the Allied Works Council that there is no obligation on the employees to join the union and that contributions to the union are not deducted from theirpay, unless they authorize it.

Mr JOLLY - Other honorable members, as well as myself, have been informed that if a worker refuses to join the union his union fee is deducted from his wages.

Dr Evatt - I made inquiries because I was informed of that, and I received from the Director of the Allied Works Council the answer which I have given to the honorable gentleman.

Mr JOLLY - If the Attorney-General will assure me that Mr. Theodore will be instructed that if a person objects to joining a union, no compulsion must be placed upon him and that the Allied Works Council must not deduct the union fee from his wages and must refund any money already deducted in that way,I shall be satisfied.

Dr Evatt - I have told the honorable gentleman the result of my inquiry; I believe it to be correct. I promise him that I. shall find out exactly what the position is.

Mr JOLLY - I take the honorable gentleman's statement as a definite announcement that there is noobligation on the workers to join the union or to pay union fees.

Dr Evatt - I shall make further inquiries and supply the honorable member with a further answer or make a statement in the House confirming the verbal information conveyed to me by Mr. Theodore.

Mr JOLLY - It would be very unfair if a man who had been called upon to perform a national service at this time were compelled to join an organization with which he had no desire to be connected. If such a state of affairs actually exists then an entirely new principle has been established. Even a conscientious objector has the right of appeal against a military call-up.

Dr Evatt - No fee is deducted from a worker's pay unless he authorizes the Allied Works Council to do so.

Mr JOLLY - I accept that.

Motion (by Mr. Fadden) put-

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the debate being continued until6 p.m. this day.

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