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Tuesday, 29 November 1938


Mr GEORGE LAWSON (BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND) . - I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to a matter relating to the waterside workers in Brisbane. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has referred to this subject on several occasions during the last twelve months. I am informed that waterside workers in Brisbane who are members of the Waterside Workers Federation are not receiving fair treatment at the picking-up sheds which are under the control of the shipping companies. Only to-day I have received a long letter on the subject. I believe the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) has received a similar communication. It points out that men who do not hold waterside workers' discs but are members of the Waterside Workers Federation are not receiving fair play from the shipping companies, and that, in fact, marked discrimination is being shown against them. This is quite against the spirit of the Waterside Workers' Award made some time ago by Judge Beeby who, during the hearing of the case practically advised the employers to issue discs to members of the Waterside Workers Federation and to give them preference in employment. Unfortunately that is not being done. A disc is necessary to obtain admission to the picking-up shed, but quite recently, of twenty men who received discs, only three were members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Many members of this organization who lost their employment through the unfortunate strike of 1927, have remained financial ever since in the hope that in time they 'would be able to obtain discs and again earn their living on the waterfront ; but the discrimination being shown against them by the employers is causing a most undesirable situation to develop. I hope that the Attorney-General will go into this matter in order to see whether something cannot be done to alleviate the conditions in Brisbane. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) visited that shed in company with the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) and myself. I believe - although I am not sure on this point - that arrangements have now been made for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Lawson) to visit Brisbane and the other capital cities as early as possible. If that be so, I sincerely hope that he will give me, as the representative of the electorate in which the head-quarters of the Queensland branch of the Waterside Workers Federation is domiciled, an opportunity to make arrangements for him to meet the waterside workers in order that he may become fully acquainted with what is happening. I am satisfied that, should he do so, he would endeavour to persuade the Government to do something to improve the lot of these men. They are not now getting a fair spin. Seeing that no dispute has taken place on the Queensland waterfront since 1927, and that work has proceeded peacefully and continuously at all Queensland ports, the Government should have no hesitation in withdrawing the penalty provisions of the Transport Workers Act from the workers in that State.







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