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Tuesday, 4 May 1965
Page: 552

Senator ANDERSON - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator's questions -

1.   Stop work meetings were called by the Third Division Telegraphists' and Postal Clerks' Union and the Fourth Division Postmasters', Postal Clerks' and Telegraphists' Union on 24th March, 1965: Meetings were held in all capital cities and in a number of the larger provincial centres, the purpose of the meetings being to determine the attitude of the Unions on certain claims chiefly in relation to increased salaries. The stop work meetings resulted in the closure of a number of post offices in the metropolitan areas of the capital cities and in some country centres and the transmission of only emergency telegraph traffic during the morning of 24th March. However, there was a return to work by mid-day on that date.

2.   Following a meeting between it and the Director-General, Posts and Telegraphs, on 9th March, 1965, the Public Service Board, after further considerationof the issues involved, wrote to the Unions on 16th March inviting them to a meeting on 29th March to deal with their claims.

However, before receiving the Board's letter and without advising either the Board or the Department, the Unions announced plans to hold slop work meetings on 24th March, 1965. Once these plans were known, the Postmaster-General was in frequent contact with the Director-General, Post and Telegraphs, who, in close and direct consultation with the Chairman, Public Service Board, made every endeavour to avert the stoppage, including consultation with the general secretaries of the two Unions throughout the afternoon of Friday, 19th March. The Director-General personally assured the general secretaries of the Unions that necessary joint Board Departmental work was still in progress and there would be real finality reached at the meeting to be held on 29th March and, in his view, the time taken in joint Public Service Board and departmental investigations on the salary claims would redound to the advantage of the staff. Despite this assurance, the Unions persisted with the planned stop work meetings.

3.   and 4. In November, 1963, the Third Division Union met the Public Service Board and a formal claim for increased salaries was left with the Board. At that meeting the Board invited the Union to submit additional material in support of the rather broad contentions advanced during the meeting. The Union submitted the additional material in June, 1964. At a meeting on 24th June, 1964. the Board informed the Union that, on the material submitted, its claims had not been substantiated but gave it the opportunity to revise its case and submit further material which it did in August, 1964. At a separate conference with the Board in February, 1965, the Fourth Division Union allied itself with the case presented by the Third Division Union.

5.   The precise meaning of the words ' higher salaries' used in this part of the question is not clear. A review of all salaries is carried out as expeditiously as possible but, as indicated by the Postmaster-General in his statement to Parliament on 8th April, 1965, the fixing of salaries of postal workers and others is frequently a very complex matter because of the large nember of employees in the Post Office, the wide variety of the types of work carried out and the considerable number of Unions with members employed in the Department. Generally, ' higher ' salary reviews lag behind reviews of ' lower ' salaries.

6.   The reference to ' three years ' delay' in dealing with these Unions' applications is not understood. The Third Division Union first lodged claims for increases at the meeting with the Public Service Board in November, 1963, and the Fourth Division Union submitted similar claims in February, 1964.

7.   The log of claims by these Unions has now been determined following conferences between the Board, the Department and the Unions. Consent determinations giving effect to salary increases were issued by the Public Service Arbitrator on 15th April, 1965. The determinations were without prejudice to the Unions further pursuing their claims before the Arbitrator.

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