Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 2 September 1920

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) .- Lay members of the Committee must have been impressed by the fact that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr.

Ryan), who has been pre-eminent in winning victories in the highest Court of the Home Land, and the honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell), who has been equally successful in the Courts of this country, have spoken against the amendment.There are no two members of the Committee, even if I include the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), whose opinion upon a legal point is comparable with that of the gentlemen to whom I have referred. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), has said that a reduction of working hours within certain limits has almost invariably resulted in increased output. Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) told us that under certain conditions men working underground led healthier lives than those working above ground. In answer to the honorable member I quote the following from Industrial A dministration, published by the Manchester University Press -

The total amount paid for compensation in 1913 under the Workmen's Compensation Act was nearly £3,500,000, of which over £130,000 was for occupational disease.

I direct special attention to this statement -

Over 90 per cent. of the claims for industrial disease (nystagmus, bent knee, &c.) occurred in the mining industry.

So that the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) in speaking as he did was only talking piffle. At page 192 of this work I find the following statement -

A fatigued person works less rapidlythan one who is fresh, and the rate of working appears to getslower and slower as the process of exhaustion proceeds;

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer, as well as other honorable members on the opposite side, have said that during the war working hours were increased. It is true that some persons were unchristian enough to increase the working hours per day of employees, and to work a seven days' week. I wish honorable members to listen to the result of that - I quote from page 127 of The Works Manager To-day, by Webb -

After ages will wonder at the stupidity of the British War Office when the urgent pressure came for additional war material in 1914-15 in desiring, and at the weakness of the employers in allowing, the lengthening of the working day and the adoption of continuous seven-day shifts, under the delusion that this was the way to increase the total output. I arn glad to think that in the main it was not the works managers who were responsible for the large - amount of overtime and Sunday labour. In fact, they know that in a certain proportion of cases a substantial increase - in the total output can be secured by a reduction in the working hours. . . . During the early part of the war, owing to the great pressure oi work, our industrial .establishment, employing some 15,000 hands, never shut down except for a few days; that is, excepting one or two holidays, we ian clean through for eighteen months without a stop, from Monday morning until Sunday night; but it did not pay. For the last few months, and with the permission of the Ministry of Munitions, we have knocked off Sunday work, the result being that our output has been equally as great.

Mo member of the Committee will deny that Lord Leverhulme, the head of Lever Brothers, is one of the greatest organizers of labour in industry under the

British nug. I remember that, in an almost Socialistic speech he said that het had reduced the hours of .labour in 'his factory to forty-eight per' week for men and to forty-four per week for women. He put up respectable decent cottages for his employees, based upon a 3 per cent, return, as he said, not as a charity, but as a business proposition. I quote the following, from page 128 of The Works Manager To-day: -

It is very suggestive to find that neaTly every shortening of the working week, even down' to forty-two hours, bae been accompanied after a short time, not by a diminution, but by an increased output. Lord Leverhulme is actually beginning to talk of a six-hours' day at Port Sunlight - which may be the way to get the workmen to consent to two shifts. There is room for careful experiment here, yet the impulse of every employer, as I am afraid it is that of most managers, is to attempt to meet any demand for increased output by lengthening the hours, piling up overtime, even putting on Sunday shifts.

The quotations I have made should be sufficient to convince honorable members on this question, but they ' could be multiplied a hundredfold. No medical man' in the world will contend that long hours of labour are a benefit to the community. Twenty-three years ago, statements ap.peared in the British Medical Journal and the Lancet with respect to the conditions of employment in Rutherglen and another 'place in chemical works. The danger period of life is from one to five years of age; but, taking a healthy agri- cultural labourer of adult agc, the statement was made that his average life at this work would be seven years. The hours of labour wore ten each day, and the wages of men 18s. per week. No woman who entered those works was. ever able to wash her face again, because it would become pitted as with small-pbx. No woman who entered them ever again had the God-given gift of motherhood. About that time, in the middle nineties, that brute beast of the 'present century, the Kaiser, had an inquiry into hours of labour in Germany, and it was ' found that they ranged, from the lowest, two and a half hours per day for chemical workers, up to ton hours per day for. caretakers and persons so employed. If the hours of labour in chemical works were reduced from ten hours a day, withe case I have referred to, to two and a half hours,, as suggested by the German report, the period of average life would be lengthened from seven years to. from twenty to twenty-eight years.

What has been the evidence produced before our own Courts? I purpose to quote some remarks made before the Arbitration Court by Mr. Holloway, than whom there is in Australia no keener student of industrial matters. Speaking as representative of the Trades Hall Council, he quoted a cable message of Friday last, to the effect that the Canadian railway construction companies had granted the forty-four 'hour week to their 40,000 employees. Nearly all the strikes, especially the long ones, he said, were in regard to the question of hours. Mr. Holloway said that, generally, the approval given by the employers to fortyfour hours was accompanied by a suggestion that full advantage should be taken of the daylight. Medical men know well the advantage of working in daylight. That is another answer to the argument -used by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). If I had my way, not one office in Melbourne, with its wide streets, should employ any person except in natural daylight. _ If ohe enters Borne of the dens in this city he may see men and women employed under the electric light in places where they ' should not be allowed to work. Mr. Holloway went on to say -

A Commission found that a shorter day was most needed in industries that were fatiguing, monotonous, or conducted under trying condi- tions, and that the working hours should be based scientifically on. the demands of each industry, not on the mere ability to work such hours without undue fatigue. It was a notable fact that piece-workers also asked that the hours should bo reduced. ... In some parts, the workers were classified according to their nationalities, and the Bohemians only worked thirty-six hours.

Can any honorable member say that the employers as a body ever voluntarily reduced hours or increased wages? Amongst them there are individuals who have done great work, just as amongst the aristocracy of England the name of Lord Shaftesbury stands pre-eminent for his action in dragging the women and children out of the mines. In Durham the unfortunate miners atthat time, if they did not go into the mine, even when the timbers were creaking and life was in danger, had to go to gaol. The Lord of Durham sent a message to the townspeople - " If you supply food to my rebellious miners I shall evict the lot of you." Only by the forcesof unionism have working conditions been improved, and the unionists have had their martyrs, just as any religion has. Notable amongst them are the three martyrs of Tolpuddle, in North Wales. They asked for an eleven hour day and an increase of wages from11s. to. 13s. per week, and for that they were sentenced to gaol for seven years, five years, and one year respectively. To his eternal honour Lloyd George, when a Cabinet Minister, but before he became Prime Minister, unveiled a memorial to those three men. It has been a long road of suffering, almost of crucifixion, that the unionists - seldom, but sometimes, helped by the higher classes - have had to travel, and Calvary hasbeen multiplied hundreds of times by the men, women, and children who have been destroyed by unjust conditions of labour. The Chinese have a saying that man should " save his face," meaning that he should not appear little to his people, to his party, to his constituents, to the general mass of the people. It was possibly upon that principle that the Prime Minister has agreed to insert a proviso that this proposed new clause shall not apply to any application that is part heard. For that much I thank him, but it will be an infamy to pass this amendment at all. There are men on the Government side who will conscientiously voteagainst it, and I only wish to the

Lord that the people outside, who on one dayin three years have the controlling power; could also by means of the referendum declare by a single vote that, throughout the length and breadth of this Commonwealth, forty-four hours shall be the standard working week. If we had in operation the referendum, the initiative and recall, the Ministry and Parliament would not be allowed to continue as it is until the profiteers were smashed. The Prime Minister said he intended to shoot them.

The CHAIRMAN (Hon J M Chanter -Order! The honorable member is going beyond the amendment.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - There is not a popgun small enough to suit the Prime Minister's desires in that regard. Some day we shall have the initiative in operation, and then Parliament will not be the fool game that it is to-day. I have put forward arguments that I challenge any medical man to deny. I wish that Mr. Knibbs, that great statist whom the Commonwealth has the honour to employ, could supply us with statistics as to the number of accidents that happen in a sixhour working day, the number that happen at night work, and, above all, the number that happen during overtime, when the brain is dull and the limbs fatigued, and men are compelled to continue at work for which they are not fit. Whether or not the Government are able to carry this amendment I care not, for I know that, even if it be carried, some day another Ministry will repeal the infamy.

Suggest corrections