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Wednesday, 25 August 1920


Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - I ask the honorable member not to press his amendment because it may have quite a contrary effect to what he intends. The proposed new section does not embrace the individuals to whom he refers, but is aimed at persons or' organizations bound by an award of the Court, or entitled to the benefit of an award of the Court, and is for the purpose of preventing them from doing anything in the nature of a lockout or strike.


Mr Charlton - An individual may refuse to continue at work under an award.


Mr GROOM - That would not be a strike, and the individual would not be liable. It is only those who are bound by an award and do something in the nature of a strike who are liable to the penalty in the proposed new section, and a strike is the total or partial cessation of work by employees acting in combination as a means of enforcing compliance with demands made by them or other employees on employers, and the total or partial refusal of employees .acting in combination to accept work if the refusal is unreasonable. An individual may give notice to terminate his work, but such a step on his part is not a strike.


Mr Considine - It is unfortunate if a lot of his mates are struck with the same idea at the same time.


Mr GROOM - Only those persons who act in combination to produce such a result are liable.


Mr Considine - If a factory is obliged to cease work because none of the employees turn up to work, would not their action be construed as a strike?


Mr GROOM - It must be proved that the action taken is in combination, and further, that the refusal to work is unreasonable.


Mr Ryan - How much further does the new section go as compared with the existing provision ?


Mr GROOM - - The existing provision, that is, section 6, relates to persons or organizations which do anything in the nature of a strike on account of any industrial dispute before an award is made. The general intention of the Act was to secure industrial peace, and do away with the old methods of industrial warfare and substitute compulsory arbitration in their place. It was made an offence for any person on account of an industrial dispute to do anything in the nature of a lockout or strike. But here we have got beyond the actual dispute, and are dealing with cases in which, awards have been given.


Mr Ryan - Cannot there be another dispute while an award is in force ?


Mr GROOM - There is nothing to prevent a dispute occurring after an award has been given, but the proposed new section 6a applies only to cases where an award is iu existence which both parties are bound to observe, and that section imposes a penalty on the employer who does anything in the nature of a lockout, or on the employees who do anything in the nature of a strike, during the currency of such an award. The idea is to observe the sanctity of the award, and to see that both parties comply with it. The trouble that attaches to the honorable member's amendment is that, if inserted, it may cast doubt upon other 'sections of the Act. It is not usual to include in an Act any matter that has no application to it. The honorable member's amendment would apply to a provision which embraces only those workmen who act in combination, a proviso having application only to individuals.







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