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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1464

Senator MULVIHILL (New South Wales) - I rise briefly to support the statements made by Senator Milliner. I do so in the context that in these days we have disputes in the fringe area which is not strictly covered by an award. Settlements are not reached either in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or before a Conciliation Commissioner. For Senator Greenwood 's benefit let me say that the people covered by these terms 'area shop stewards' or shop committees' are doing a tremendous amount for the employees in relation to canteen services and, in this modern context, in relation to the employer providing sufficient car parking space. Conflicts are solved in the main by on the job discussions between area Committees and management. In this regard there would not be the secretary of any union or possibly a paid organiser who would have at his fingertips the relevant facts that the people in the shop would have. This means, in effect, that if an organiser of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia and perhaps somebody from the Federated Storeman and Packers Union of Australia who happened to be the secretary of the area went on to the same job, the shop steward secretary would be able to rattle off to them the sins and omissions of the existing catering service or whatever was the cause of dispute.

I know of a case in which the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union was involved in a dispute with the Sunbeam motor corporation. The real cause of the friction was not the employer; it happened to be the Botany Municipal Council. The shop stewards were spearheading a campaign for better parking facilities. There had been accidents outside the plant. Finally there was a 2-hour stoppage by the members of about 1 1 unions concerned, involving both white collar and blue collar workers, to convince the Botany Municipal Council and the Police Department that their failure to provide adequate parking facilities and to provide a policeman on duty was constituting a hazard. But these matters to which I have referred are not matters on which an Arbitration Commissioner would be expected to rule because they are matters which can be solved at the lower echelon level. I share Senator Milliner's fears that if anything is tacked on difficulties will arise because perhaps only 2 employers out of 100 will attempt to be as rigid as the amendment suggests. We are saying that the status quo recognises the very valuable role played by those who are encompassed in the terms 'area shop stewards' and 'shop committees' in curbing and controlling what I would call brushfire industrial tensions.

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