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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr ELDRIDGE (Martin) .- There is considerable unrest among employees at Garden Island following the posting of a notice connected with rationing by the Naval Board arbitrarily depriving employees of certain annual leave privileges and holiday pay. provided for them under existing awards. The notice in question appeared on the 4th September, and intimated that alterations would be made in the conditions relating to continuity of service, annual leave privilege, public holidays and furlough. On the10th September, a deputation representative of the Metal

Trades Union, Sydney, waited on the Engineer Commander, and stated the objections of the men to the proposed alterations. I have been asked to bring this matter under the notice of honorable members with a view to securing redress of the men's grievances. The notice relating to continuity of service states:

Continuity of service will not be affected by the period of rationing which is to he applied for as leave nf absence without pay

The deputation pointed out that it was desirable that there should be a definite assurance from the department that the conditions and privileges granted under various awards would not be prejudiced by the men applying for leave without pay covering the rationing period. That portion of the notice relating to annual leave privileges reads :

One day will bc deducted from recreation leave in respect of each 22 days of absence without pay.

Strong objection is taken to this provision, because it is at variance with the established practice of the departments of the New South Wales Government, including the railways, and also such public bodies as the Sydney and Newcastle Municipal Councils. The deputa11011 urged that this deduction would impose an Additional hardship upon men who were already suffering through the rationing system. The notice with regard to public holidays states -

In thu event of a public holiday occurring during the period of rationing, the public holidays will be considered as part of such period of rationing and will not lie paid for or granted in any other way.

This is considered to be a distinct breach of existing awards, and great exception is taken to it. The deputation pointed out that the deduction from the wages of annual employees of 5s. per week to cover payment for holidays as set out in the award should be considered. It is also objected that if this breach of award were permitted, it would be competent for any employer to ration his employees on public holidays only, so that the men might be deprived of their holidays. It is not suggested that the department would deliberately do that, but it is contended that this alteration of the conditions will operate very unjustly in the case of some workers, who may be called upon to sacrifice more than others merely because public holidays occur during their period of rationing. The notice relating to furlough reads :

The period of " rationing " will not constitute a break in the service for furlough purposes, but will not count as qualifying service for grant of furlough or payment in lieu.

Mr Archdale PARKHILL - Whose statement is the honorable member reading?

Mr ELDRIDGE - I am reading from the report of the deputation to the naval officer in charge. It relates to the objection which the men have to the notice which has been posted. The men have a case, and they are anxious that it should be favorably determined. The statement that I am making is on behalf of my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is unavoidably absent, and in whose electorate these men are employed. At a recent meeting of the employees this resolution was carried -

That the employees of Garden Island refuse to sign any application for leave of absence without pay for a period of rationing.

They consider that the act of signing an application for leave of absence without pay will commit them to an acceptance of the conditions to which I have referred, and that that will deprive them of rights and privileges that have been conferred upon them under their respective existing awards. Because of these facts, I ask on behalf of these employees that the notice to which I have referred be cancelled, and that whatever arrangements are made in connexion with rationing, they shall be consistent with the absolute maintenance of the provisions of the existing awards applying to the men concerned.

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