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Thursday, 4 April 1946

Mr HOLLOWAY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - On the 16th March, the Arbitration Court, met to considera reference as to whether Judge O'Mara would inquire as to the need for maintenance men, whoare day workers, to work on a seven-day, three-shift system. After discussion, the judge adjourned the case without going into the matter, hoping that a satisfactory arrangement would be made as the result of a conference. He asked the unions for an assurance that, in the event of his holding an inquiry, they would accept his decision. Conferences have been proceeding with the management of the Bunnerong power-house. According to the latest information, which I received yesterday these negotiations have broken down. In consequence of that failure, the representatives of the employees at the power-house held a meeting, and subsequently offered to the management what they described as a compromise, which met both of the requests that had been made by the judge. The general manager, Mr. Nolan, however, says that he does not want to make any compromise.

Mr Harrison - But that compromise is contrary to the rule of law established by the judge.

Mr HOLLOWAY - I should like the honorable gentleman to allow me to conclude what I have to say. J udge O'Mara, at the first inquiry which he adjourned, asked for two assurances - first, that the men would continue to work while he was conducting the inquiry; and secondly that if he heard the case, they would accept his decision. After the conference had failed, the men agreed to work for eleven weeks under the new shift system, of which they have not yet had any experience, so that the judge might make the investigation. They also promised to accept the judge's decision. In view of that information, I have asked Judge O'Mara, who has always been helpful when I have sought advice from him, although he is under no obligation to comply with my requests, to continue the inquiry into the matter which I referred to him on the 16th March. I requested the judge to call the parties together again and make the investigation, so that work could be continued under the new shift system.

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