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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6204


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - That depends. I certainly cannot support it under present circumstances. I regard the action of the Government, and of the Labour Party, in tacking on those provisions to the Trade Marks Bill as an indication of weakness. A good deal has been said about the experience of America in regard to the trade union label, and therefore I should like to place before the Committee a few examples of what has occurred there -

In San Francisco, after the 1901 strike, " burials of the dead were actually impossible, because of the demands of the union gravediggers. The people who patronize the restaurants narrowly escaped going altogether hungry because of the demand of union cooks and waiters. And every time it is the public on whom the expense and inconvenience has really fallen." " One restaurant-keeper, Mr. M. Johnson, has fought the organization since 1901, the other restaurant-keepers giving up the struggle in December, 1903. The boycott of his restaurant has been unruly, and at times insulting. Threats have been used, and even proper police protection only obtained after an appeal to public opinion." " San Francisco is a city where labour, even to the boys who sell gum in the streets, is closely organized and directed by keen business men ; the mayor is elected by the Union LaBour party ; a paid union labour lobby is maintained in the State Legislature ; the force of the militia has been effectively reduced at the request of union labour ; union labour by the strike and the boycott has monopolized the labour market of the city; and the employer who can face all this opposition is a brave and resourceful man." " The demand for union label goods is consequently very great, and the lot of the non-union labourer is hard. He is told to ' join or get off the earth.' " *' The label is the recognised engine of boycott. Members dealing with a merchant who does not use the label are heavily fined. Public attention is called to the boycott by a sandwich man placed in front of the tabooed shop, and often assisted by a curbstone orator." " The union label in many of the States is traded upon unfairly by candidates immediately preceding an election. The label upon a candidate's card is represented as a passport to the good graces of the working classes. This is a species of intimidation." " In States where the judiciary is elective there are instances of union label litigation that has been influenced by covert threats of the power of the unions. A judge known as an upright and able jurist, a candidate for re-election or for higher political honours, has been known to fall, tinder this influence, into the pettifogging attitude of catering to union influence by unfair and, morally, unlawful practices."

In Chicago the union label system is carried to an extreme. Members of the unions are commanded to buy only union goods under pain of heavy penalties. The walking delegates are constantly on the watch, and may at any time inspect the clothing worn by members, who must even take their boots off so that it may be seen if the latter are stamped with the label. Their wives and children must also obey the edict. Bargain shops may not be patronized unless the walking delegate is satisfied that everything sold comes from unionized factories. The penalty foi a first offence is 5 dol., second 20 dol., and for a third 50 dol., and expulsion from the union for a fourth offence, and the consequent loss of employment, many employers being terrorized into employing union men only.

There is a retail clerks' union throughout the United States, the members of which are bound to present and recommend to purchasers goods bearing the union label, while they hold back as far as possible competitive goods not bearing it. They have great influence in support of the label. An unconscious employer, finding that certain goods sell better than others of the same class, naturally orders them in preference.


Mr Mauger - From what has the honorable member been quoting?


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I have been reading a statement of an American newspaper, republished in the Argus of 28th November.


Mr Watson - It has been read two or three times already, and contains am unfair misrepresentation of the position.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I feel that if we agree to the proposals of the Government, Australia's experience will be similar to that of America. As honorable member's pre aware, petitions against the recognition of the union label by Parliament have been presented from various parts of the Commonwealth. My impression is that such petitions have practically no influence on honorable members. Still, I feel it to be my duty to place before the Committee some telegrams conveying resolutions passed by various public bodies against the recognition ,by law of this label. They are from Brisbane, and are as follow: -

Meeting held this morning. All brewing companies represented. Request you kindly protest strongly against Trade Marks Bill now before Parliament in relation to union label clause. - G. W. Gray, Chairman, Brewers' Meeting.

Brisbane Merchants' Association passed strong resolutions protesting against union trade mark being made law. Ask your assistance to prevent same in interests general public. - Thurlow, President.

Please enter strongest protest on behalf this Chamber against registration trade union marks. - Brisbane Chamber Manufactures.

Queensland Employers' Federation strongly protests against passing union label clauses in Trade Marks Bill now before Federal Legislature. Solicit your support their views. - Frederick Ranson.

Then, on the 16th August last, the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce adopted the following resolution : -

This Chamber is of opinion that the clauses in the Trade Marks Bill dealing with the trade union marks are calculated to promote a system of boycotting, whereby those engaged in trade and commerce would be subjected to coercion and intimidation in the carrying on of their businesses.

That the use of the union label has led to tyrannous interference with the liberty of the subject in other countries, and if introduced into Australia will be followed by similar results. The effect upon the industries of the Commonwealth, which are already suffering from restrictive legislation, will be most disastrous to all concerned, and as a consequence the investment of capital will be still further curtailed.

That such legislation cannot fail to bring about an improper and unjustifiable invasion of the rights of the individual, whether hu be an employer or an employe^, and is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.

The following is a copy of a resolution passed by the Brisbane Chamber of Manufactures on Tuesday, 26th September: -

This Chamber desires to again protest against Part VII. of the Trade Marks Bill, and also against the amendments to be proposed by the Attorney-General dealing with the Union Label, Individual Workers Label, and Commonwealth Label.

Such legislation which exists in the United States has been used to tyrannize and interfere with the liberty of the subject in the interest of a class only, and there is no reason to doubt that similar results will follow if introduced in the Commonwealth.

Those who are conversant wilh trade and commerce cannot fail to see the disastrous effect of such legislation as between employer and employe.

That it cannot fail to create a system of boycotting whereby those engaged in trade would tie subject to coercion and intimidation, and the investment of capital, which is now suffering from restrictive legislation, will be still further curtailed.


Mr Page - Does not that organization include the gang of sweaters who were fined' for working the life-blood out of the girls employed at Woolongabba?


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I admit that the honorable member knows more than I do about working the life-blood out of people. The following telegram has been forwarded to me by the secretary of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce: -

Townsville Chamber Commerce supports the resolution of Queensland Employers Federation wired from Brisbane re Union Label.

I feel quite certain that the union label provisions will be passed, but I trust that the Committee will be reasonable, and accept two or three amendments. I make my appeal in the interests of the great body of workers, and of their wives and children.


Mr Page - Those are the persons for whom we are fighting. We want to secure good conditions for the slave wage-earners.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I protest against the time of the House being wasted, as it has been, in discussing these miserable proposals, when we have on the business-paper measures of far more importance, not only to Queensland, but to the whole of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister told us some little time ago that he expected us to pass the Electoral Bill, the Sugar Bounty Bill, the Excise (Sugar) Tariff Bill, the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill, and other measures before the session was brought to a close at Christmas. I do not think that it will be possible to carry out that programme.


Mr Groom - Surely we shall pass the Sugar Bounty Bill.


Mr R EDWARDS (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - I hope so. The delay that has taken place in regard to that measure has inflicted great injury upon the sugar industry in Queensland. I do not think there is anything to justify the provisions now before us. The use of union labels would1 be legitimate, if the unionists owned the goods to which the labels were affixed. Where the unions have no ownership in the goods, it savours of tyranny on their part to attach a label with the object of bringing pressure to bear upon manufacturers and retailers to give them an undue preference. The ordinary trade mark carries no compulsion with it, and threatens no one, whereas the union label is absolutely worthless, except as an instrument of coercion. It would be well for the Government to drop the union label proposals, and permit honorable members to devote their attention to legislation designed in the best interests of the Commonwealth.







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