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Wednesday, 8 September 1920

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) .- It appears to me that the Government could have got some very useful information if they had consulted the records of theConseils de Prudhommes, in France, and their later realization in the laws of Switzerland. In the latter country the employers and employees meet on absolutely equitable terms, fifteen representing each side. Perhaps it would make the matter clear if I read the following description of the method adopted : -

The employers and employed in each group of trades elect their representatives, fifteen from each side, to form a conseil. The numbers choose by ballot a committee consisting of president, vice-president, secretary, and vicesecretary, the presidency and the other offices being held alternately by an employer and a. workman, with the further proviso that, when the president or the secretary is an employer, the vice-officer must be a workman and vice versa.

I think it would have been much better to proceed on similar lines. I have no desire to delay the passage of the Bill, but merely wish to bring under the notice of the Minister what has been done elsewhere. Ours is a new system of only a few years, and must have faults, which time only can mend. The principal fault, apparently, is the difficulty of getting to the. Court, and, when there, the cost of having cases heard; but in Switzerland these matters are settled at a minimum cost of from 1 franc up to 10 francs. I can give honorable members particulars of cases settled in 1901. Out of a total of 6,141 cases there were settled in Courts of Conciliation, 4,245; and in Courts of Arbitration, 1,885; leaving unsettled only eleven out of the total of 6,141 cases. It might be of interest to mention that in 2,230 cases the complaints were made by the workers, and in 120 cases by the employers. All these oases, with the exception of . 2 per cent., were settled satisfactorily. I considered that information of so much importance . that I thought it well to bring it under the notice of the Minister in charge of this Bill. I believe that it would be far better if, in this country, instead of having one general Court of Arbitration, we had an Arbitration Court for each trade and calling. There are ten of these Tribunals in Switzerland, dealing with the following list of callings: - 1, textiles; 2, earth and building works; 3, woodwork; 4, metals; 5, foodstuffs and liquors; 6, clothing trades; 7, paper -making and polygraphic industry; 8, chemicals; 9, transport; 10, retail trade and other callings (banks, insurance, employments connected with literature, art, and science). I may mention that in connexion with cases in these. Courts, there is a single Court fee, ranging from 1 franc to 20 or 30 francs, so that it is possible to secure the settlement of a case in one of these Courts for a minimum charge of 10d., up to a maximum charge of 25s. I have quoted from a book entitled The Sovereign People, by Henry Demarest Lloyd, which will well repay perusal by any member of the Committee. It seems to me that this Bill puts the members of the Public Service in a class by themselves and I do not think that it is fair to them as citizens of the Common.wealth that they should be so placed.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 -

(   1 ) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be aPublic Service Arbitrator, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General.

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