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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Judge Orders Use op Machine Unit.

Sydney, Tuesday. "1 will ask the Minister for Labour (Mr.

Ward ) to intervene ", the general secretary of the Miners' Federation (Mr. C. W. Grant) declared when Judge Drake Brockman gave a ruling before the Central Coal Reference Board to-day.

The judge had dismissed the union's protest against introduction of a mechanical unit on the afternoon shift at Richmond Main colliery.

There was a danger of stoppages in the industry if the mechanical unit was allowed to operate, Mr. Grant said in an interview after the case.

After the Arbitration Court had given its judgment, and the secretary of the union had conferred with Ministers on numerous occasions, and had promised the Prime Minister to do all in his power to increase production of coal in this national emergency, he made a public statement that he would refer the matter to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward). Regulation 27b encourages that sort of thing and tends to undermine the authority of the Arbitration Court.

The fourth objection to the regulation is that it has failed to prevent strikes. This unsatisfactory regulation was promulgated on the 9th January. 1942. On the 8th January, the Prime Minister threatened that the Government would take drastic action unless the mines were re-opened at once. On the 9th January, he made his now famous statement, " The coal-miners must work or fight". "We all know that many young men, who were formerly outside the coal-mining industry and who should be fighting for their country, have taken the opportunity to secure employment in the mines in order to shelter themselves, and that they are doing the work which married men and older men have been called upon by the Government to do. On the 17th February, the Prime Minister said, "All resources, human and material, will be mobilized". On tinsame day, five coal-mines, were idle in spite of the provision of regulation 27n. What action did the union committer take on that occasion? On the 25th February, it was reported that the Prime Minister had telephoned Mr. Scanlon, the Northern Miners' president, thai immediate action must be taken to secure continuity of production. That wa.= merely a repetition of what he had said on the 8th January. Then, despite bhp fact that the Prime Minister's threats had been ignored and that the regulation promulgated on the 9th January had been laughed at by the miners' executive and ridiculed by the extremists, it was reported that an absenteeism regulation would be introduced so that nobody would have discretionary power to shield strikers from the consequences of their actions. That absenteeism regulation has been promulgated. I am not aware whether it overrides regulation 27b, but, in any case, we have been forced to the conclusion that regulation 27b has failed, and that, therefore, the Prime Minister has failed to carry out his threat. Thi.= unsatisfactory position has existed for over two months in spite of the fact that we are at war. I hope that, when it has considered the points which. I have mentioned, the Senate will decide, that it would be justified in ' disallowing regulation 27n.







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