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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr LAVELLE (Calare) . - I move -

That paragraph c be left out.

I maintain that the amendment of the principal Act for which paragraph c provides is unnecessary and unreasonable. Its only effect will be to penalise the workers. It is unjust to say that men shall not have the right to refuse to work under conditions to which they object. It is all very well for the Minister to urge that in refusing work men must be proved to have acted in combination in order to be liable to the penalty for which the Bill provides. We know perfectly well, however - and every honorable member on this side' of the House at one time or another has suffered at ,the 'hands of employers - that very often employers make the conditions of work intolerable, and that the only redress open to their employees is to knock offWhere they object to the wages or conditions offering, they should have the right to leave if they desire to do so.

Mr Gregory - They will have that right under this Bill.

Mr LAVELLE - I do not want the honorable member to dictate to me as to what is and what is not in the Bill. On the motion for the second reading he spoke of an award relating to the pastoral industry in Western Australia, which, . he said, applied to the big sheds and not to the small ones, and when, in order to put him on the right track, I inquired whether he was referring to an agreement, he answered that he was speaking of an award. He thus proved that he does not know what is going on in his own State, since there is no award, and never has been one, applying to the pastoral industry in Western Australia. Why, then, should he dictate to those who are familiar with working conditions ? Listening to some honorable members, one would imagine that the workers stopped work for the mere fun of the thing. One would imagine that they regarded a strike as something in the nature of a pastime. As a representative of the workers - as one who has had to work all his life, who has been associated with strikes, and who, having regard to the social conditions under which we live, will probably be associated with strikes in the future - I do not hesitate to say that no one realizes more than do the workers themselves the hardships imposed upon them and their- families when they are forced to go on strike. There are times, however, when it is absolutely necessary that they should strike, since by no other means can they obtain the redress of their grievances. I, therefore, submit this amendment, believing that the clause as it stands would place an intolerable burden on the workers, while allowing the employers practically to gp free.

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