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Thursday, 3 December 1914

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) .- I have followed Senator Lynch with a great deal of interest, but I have been unable to discover exactly the point which he desires to make. He has referred to some imaginary grievances which he considers likely to arise if the proposal made by the Government should become law. Senator Guthrie has gone further, and has said that the amendment would give ship-owners the power to dismiss qualified men, and employ others less qualified in their places, because they would be cheaper. Is there not a schedule to the Act laying down the rates of pay for these men ?

Senator Russell - No; only the number of such men to be employed.

Senator FINDLEY - Does Senator Lynch really believe that if the amendment is carried any considerable change in the direction he has suggested is likely to take place?

Senator Lynch - I apprehend that it will.

Senator FINDLEY - Is that because ship-owners will prefer to employ less qualified and cheaper labour?

Senator Lynch - If they see a chance of doing so, yes.

Senator FINDLEY - But the Government say that every man shall be qualified.

Senator Stewart - These men are qualified.

Senator FINDLEY - I trust that every member of the Labour party believes that men should belong to some organization, and if these men can produce qualifications and credentials from their organization, they must have served some time, and must be qualified for the work they are performing. If they have not served any apprenticeship, and do not belong to an organization, I am not seriously worried about them.

Senator Stewart - What does it matter whether they have served an apprenticeship or not, so long as they can do the work?

Senator FINDLEY - I remind the honorable senator that it is the desire of every organization that a term of apprenticeship shall be compulsory for all tradesmen. Laws have been passed in all the States to compel employers to teach their trades to apprentices during their term of apprenticeship. It was the practice of boys going from one employment to another which, before the passage of certain factory legislation, brought those employed in many trades to a very low level.

Senator Needham - Many tradesmen have spent the best years of their lives in learning their trades, at very low wages.

Senator FINDLEY - And they have often had great difficulty in securing employment. When they have done so, they have had to wait a long time before they have been able to secure the wages to which they have been entitled.

Senator Stewart - The honorable senator does not say that ships' carpenters have not served their time at their trade?

Senator FINDLEY - If they have done so and are qualified, they should have no difficulty in retaining their positions, even if the amendment be carried. If they are qualified, the amendment should play right into the hands of the men for whom Senator Lynch is pleading.

Senator Stewart - What does " qualified ' ' mean ?

Senator FINDLEY - A qualified man is a man who has served his time to his trade or calling.

Senator Guy - Under indentures?

Senator FINDLEY - Yes; in most cases.

Senator Guthrie - " Qualified " means able to do the work.

Senator FINDLEY - Where would that definition lead us ? Some youths who have served two or three years at a trade, and who may have become qualified in a measure, might enter into competition with members of an organization who have served a long period of time to that trade. To say that a man who has been to sea for twelve or eighteen months, and has worked as a ship's carpenter, is a qualified tradesman, and it does not matter whether he has served a term of apprenticeship or not, and to apply that rule to every calling, would break up all the unions in one act.

Senator Guthrie - I gave the meaning of the word " qualified," the use of which the honorable senator supports.

Senator FINDLEY - If the word were not used, a man would not require any qualification at all, so long as he was doing the work.

Senator Stewart - That would be his qualification.

Senator FINDLEY - If he is not qualified he will, under the proposal of the Government, be disqualified. If the word " qualified " is not retained an opportunity will be given to ship-owners to employ anybody and everybody under any conditions they please.

Senator Bakhap - The employer will continue to employ a man only if he is qualified.

Senator FINDLEY - I know some employers think any non-unionist better than a unionist. My point is that a' union workman is a better workman than a nonunionist.

Senator Bakhap - These men are unionists also.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator suggested that the employer would not keep a man unless he was qualified, but they are always ready to employ less qualified men if they can get them more cheaply, and prefer to do so to employing men better fitted for the work at a reasonable wage.

Senator Bakhap - It is news to me that the employer does not want the best service.

Senator FINDLEY - There is nothing new about it. Some employers employ Chinamen.

Senator Bakhap - Some Chinese are very efficient, especially as ships' carpenters.

Senator FINDLEY - I admit that. They are too industrious. They are prepared to work all round the clock. Because of their industry it 'was found necessary in this State to pass special legislation to deal with them. The amendment is in the right direction, and will tend to insure fair treatment for those on whose behalf Senator Lynch has been speaking.

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