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Discussion on problems in the stevedoring industry

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For Release:

5.00 p.m. , Tuesday, 30,7.1963


The Minister for Labour and National Service, the Hon. William McMahon said this evening that the National ■ Conference, which he had called on the 30th May to discuss problems in the stevedoring industry, had met again in

Sydney today to consider the report of the Working Party which had been set up to consider a number of matters referred to it by the National Conference, .

Since the last Conference the Working Party had held a number of meetings at which the discussions had been frank and constructive with all parties sincerely seeking to find solutions to the various problems which have been causing difficulties in the industry.

After considering the recommendations and suggestions which had been made in the Working Party's report the Conference, today agreed that the report as submitted should be received and referred to the organisations represented at the Conference for


Mr. McMahon said it was not possible for him to comment in detail on the many suggestions considered by the Conference, some of which deal with technical matters which could not easily be understood outside the context of the Working Party's report·

0ne major set of proposals dealt with the setting up of industrial relations committees consisting of stevedoring employers and the Waterside Workers' Federation in all ports. It was:also proposed that there should be a National Committee, Amongst their functions these committees would seek to anticipate possible disputes and to deal with them if they should arise.

In the event of the committee not being able to settle a dispute, use would continue to be made of a Board of Reference. It was agreed that the employers and the Federation should consider seeking a variation of the Waterside Workers' Award whereby the

chairman of a Board of Reference would be an officer appointed under the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

Another major matter considered was the steps that should be taken to deal with any surplus of waterside workers in the industry resulting from the introduction of technical change. It was recognised that the problems of redundancy called for a

comprehensive plan that would, as far as possible, ensure con­ tinued employment for those becoming surplus in'a particular port, '

There was also consideration of the operation of those sections of the Stevedoring Industry Act which were objected to by the A.C.T.U. and the Federation. While the Working Party and the Conference itself were unable to agree that there should be any change in the existing legislation, it was agreed that the

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Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority should consult with the employers and the Federation on the manner in which the discip­ linary powers vested in it under certain sub-sections of section 36 of the Stevedoring Industry Act are being and should be

administered, The Working Party recommended that consideration be given to not applying that section of the Act (52A) which ' provides for the cancellation of attendance money entitlements and that there be a review of the matter after 12 months, "

The Minister said that he was in complete agreement with the observation of the Working Party which'was endorsed by the National Conference that if the recommendations and suggestions were implemented in the spirit which had prevailed in the Working Party and in the Conference there could be a firm expectation that

there would be improved industrial relations in the industry from which all parties and the community as a whole must benefit. It was significant that members of the Conference acknowledged that there was an urgent need for a new approach to the problems

of the industry, and it could be that the Conference discussions and the further discussions which will flow from today's meeting could mark the beginning of a new era in the industry.

It is worth noting, the Minister said, that, since he called the first Conference on the 30th May and while discussions were proceeding, there had been no major disputes in the industry and the number of man-hours lost through stoppages during June and July was but a fraction of those lost in the same period last year. This was a .demonstration that, given reasonable good will

and preparedness to co-operate, there was no reason why this industry should not have an industrial record as good as that of any industry in the country.

Those present at today's meeting with the Minister were Messrs. C.L. Craig, W.F.J. Foster, D.J, Stillwell, R.C. Reed and S, Joblin representing the employers; Mr, A.E„ Monk and the Hon, J.D. Kenny representing the A.C.T.U., Messrs. C.H. Fitzgibbon,

J.C. Beitz and E. Roach representing the Waterside Workers' Federation, Messrs, N.J. Hood, J, S h o r t e n and D.S. Yelland of' the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and Dr, P.H. Cook, Acting Secretary, Department of Labour and National Service,

30th July, 1963