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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister for Works and Railways) . - The words " which is seeking better industrial conditions " are inserted on account of a case which arose in Tasmania in connexion with a (member of an organization who was dismissed because he expressed dissatisfaction with his conditions. The director swore that he had dismissed the employee because the latter was dissatisfied, and the magistrate accepted that testimony. An employer must be entitled to dismiss an employee if the latter is dissatisfied with the conditions under which he is working. The employer ought- not to be compelled to continue to employ a discontented man. At the same time the object of the Act wa6 to encourage the formation of organizations, with a view to bettering the conditions of the workers, and it is necessary to prevent employers from dismissing men who are members of such organizations seeking to improve their con ditions, on the ground that they are dissatisfied with their conditions. In regard to the omission of the words " or an association which has applied to be registered as an organization," it is impossible for the employer to know whether an association is seeking to be registered.

Mr Brennan - Do not the other penalties apply to a member of an association as well as to a member of an organization?

Mr GROOM - They only apply where an employer is trying to prevent the formation of ah association. It would be unfair to dismiss a member of an organization which was functioning under the Act.

Mr Considine - If a member of an organization is dissatisfied with his conditions, but the organization is satisfied, the employer will still have the right to dismiss ?

Mr GROOM - Yes. If an organization is thoroughly satisfied with the conditions but one man is grumbling all day, an employer has the right to say, " If that is your state of mind you had better go."

Mr Considine - Then this Bill only confers illusory benefits. It transforms an organization into a protective agency for the employer.

Mr GROOM - Surely the organization represents the workers engaged in the industry.

Mr. Considine.Suppose there is an agreement with the employers with which the organization is satisfied. . A member of the organization is dissatisfied and desires to move the organization to seek better conditions. The employer says, " If you are not satisfied with your job, get out."

Mr GROOM - The alternative is to compel an employer to keep on a dissatisfied man, whether he. desires him or not. We must not have compulsion of that sort ; there must be mutuality and reasonable protection. If an organization is dissatisfied with an award it will be held to be seeking better industrial conditions. Under these circumstances, an employer could not dismiss an employee because the latter said that he was dissatisfied with his conditions. The clause gives reasonable and proper protection to the employee; and I ask the honorable member not to press an amendment which, to my view, is alien to the purposes of the section.

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