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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) (6:29 AM) . - I wish to refer to the subject of furlough inrespect of men who are working in defence establishments. This matter was under consideration a year, or perhaps a little more, ago, but I understand that no definite decision was made in regard to it. Those who are working in these establishments are just as much government employees as are men in the Postal Department. This is the only large department in which provisions in relation to furlough do not operate. The services of these men will be required over a long period of years. Although many of us would like to see the defence vote decreased rather than increased, we should not, on that account, overlook the claims of these men, many of whom must be regarded as permanent employees. Through their respective organizations, they have made representations in respect of this matter to the Minister, and I urge himto reconsider their request which some time ago appeared likely to be granted. Unfortunately, however, no decision has yet been reached. From investigations which I have made relating to men of this class, not only in government but also in other establishments, it is definitely held that they are as much entitled to furlough as any other section of employees. I do not suggest that an endeavour is being made to prevent them from getting something to which they are entitled, but the Minister will readily understand that if one class of employees is deprived of a right of this kind whilst others enjoy that right, much dissatisfaction will arise. Such an anomaly cannot be justified. A reasonable hearing of themen's request would be greatly appreciated not only by the men themselves but also by the leaders of their organizations who are being constantly criticized for their alleged failure to stir up agitation on the matter. Of course, these men have access to arbitration tribunals, but the granting of furlough rests entirely with the Government itself. I again urge the Minister to look into this matter; A favorable decision would certainly make the men more eager in- their work. I am not. suggesting that at present they are not doing their job properly, but it is obvious that if they were placed on the same footing as their colleagues they would be more contented.

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