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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .- I take it that the proposal to insert in the definition of industrial matters the words -

And any matter as to the demarcation of functions of any employees or classes of employees, is intended to provide for the settlement of the many disputes that arise and are found difficult to adjust as a result of the overlapping of work which sometimes occurs, especially in connexion with shipbuilding ?

Mr Groom - That is so.

Mr CHARLTON - It is proposed to further amend section 4 of the principal Act by inserting in the definition of- " lockout" the words -

And the total or partial refusal of employers, acting in combination, to give work, if the refusal is unreasonable.

The definition of " strike " is similarly widened in regard to the total or partial refusal of employees to accept work. It may have been found in practice that the widening of the definition of "lockout " is needed, and it may be argued that employees should be placed on the same footing as employers in this matter. I do not for a moment urge that they should be dealt with differently, but I would point out to the Minister that the widening of the definition of "strike" may bring under the penal provisions of the law unions and associations which have not been parties to a strike. A large association may have many lodges, and a ledge may have several branches. The members of any of these branches might do something to bring about a total or partial refusal to accept work, but the association might be no party to the ac- tion taken, though two or three days might elapse before it could interfere. I do not think that under such circumstances an association should be made responsible for action taken by some of its members without its consent. There might be a total or partial refusal of work em the part of 100 members of an association possessing a membership of 5,000 or 10,000. The penalty for striking is so large that an association could not take the risk of coming under the Act if the interpretation that I fear might be given to this amendment. I should like to know what it really means.

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