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Address by Ian Sinclair



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ADDRESS BY THE RT. HON. IAN SINCLAIR, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS, AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF TUBEMAKERS NEW SUPPLY CENTRE, WEST TAMWORTH, ON FRIDAY, 10TH JULY, 1983, AT 3.00 P.M.

With forecasts of national growth bright, those of us in New

England where drought has so adversely affected immediate

prospects sometimes wonder how the local scene and those national statistics can be reconciled.

Certainly Tamworth as a regional centre reflects far more than .

just the ups and downs of the rural economy. . .

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In this sense this new merchandising complex is particularly

welcome.

It brings a base for the growth of secondary and service industries

to this major agricultural centre.

There is a second aspect of its establishment, and that is that

through regional complexes person to person contact can be maintained in a more harmonious fashion.

It is this face to face, eyeball to eyeball confrontation, or rather the lack of it, which seems to me to be at the core of

so many of the major industrial disputes proliferating around the nation today".

One of the few forecasts with a touch of gloom in the otherwise

glowing projections for Australia made by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development out today is the continuing

high level of industrial disputation in our country.

This shadow makes us all conscious of the need to make all our

disputes procedures function at their best levels and for all

parties to use these procedures in all contexts.

Too often we are seeing employers and employees dealing outside

these procedures buying or bargaining for industrial peace at

the expense of economic progress.

Tubemakers, I'm told, has a positive policy to encourage open

communication between employees and management.

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It is interesting to note that in the latest report from the

Keidanren, which is the prestigious Japanese economic review

group, there are some extensive discussions on Japan's labour relations, also highlighting this ne,ed for improvement of

communications.

The Chairman of the Japan Federation of Employers' Associations, Mr Otsuki, says unequivocally that there seems to be wider realisation today that the secret of Japanese economic success

lies in the labour relations in industry and commerce.

He goes on to say that the reason Japanese employers and unions

are able to communicate and establish a common understanding with eath other may be found in the fact that Japanese labour/

management relations are free of class conflict.

I think, for that expression class conflict, we could read, in

Australia, political conflict in a radical sense; with entrenched viewpoints and a lack of ability or desire to search out and

understand "the other side".

The.Japanese experience is remarkably that those representing

labour in wages and conditions negotiations at the present time will be amongst those on the other side of the table from the management side within five to ten years.

Mr Otsuki pointed out that surveys of 54 major Japanese companies

revealed that one out of every six company officers having a seat

on a Board of Directors now had once served as a union executive.

Clearly such a level of cross-fertilisation develops areas of mutual interest greater than those of conflict.

As the author points out, they avoid therefore the folly of

fighting each other to exhaustion because this union/management

relationship is characterised by an awareness of shared interests.

Industrial democracy in Australia, or the appointment of trade

unionists to company directorates, does have different elements to

those that exist in the management structure of Japanese companies.

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It is true that promotional opportunities exist for everybody within

our organisational structures, whether to senior executive positions

or the Board of Directors, subject to the contribution and effort

and capability of the employee concerned.

In Japan there is a very high proportion of one-industry or often

one-company unions, so this level of concern for good labour relations is very much a concern for good business results benefitting both employer and employee when the balance sheet

comes out each year.

However, the experience of Japan need not be lost on us for the

labour/management relationship there is also one of extensive -­

communications beyond the wage and condition bargaining situation.

More and more in Australia companies are becoming aware of this

need for a great level of understanding to develop between employers and employees also outside the negotiating room.

Tubemakers, like many other companies, has stated that it recognises the right of employees to receive information about

the organisation for which they work so that they can better evaluate the company's plans and performance as far as it may

affect them and .as far as its place in the wider business community is concerned.

All parties must recognise that in the current economic climate

and because of increasing competition from overseas products

there is an urgent need for companies and employees to maintain

a common sense of purpose.

A company driven to the wall by strikes or excessive wage demands

or a company placed in an uncompetitive position by these same

factors is a company that just stops providing jobs any more.

Private enterprise is still the creator and maintainer of 80 percent

of the jobs in Australia, despite all the noise and ruckus we are

hearing from the 20 percent in the public sector at present.

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Private enterprise therefore has, as much as the public employer*

the need to develop an open communication climate within industry and commerce.

Such policies not only aid productivity but also help create a much healthier work environment.

I am aware that Tubemakers, like many other companies, uses both

written and face to face communications. The written includes corporate, divisional and works or centre news letters which are published regularly and include both social as well as work

related articles.

Each year, many companies are now publishing an annual report to

employees to highlight important events of the year, spell out the financial position of the company and how its income and

expenditure is collected and spent, and also looks at companies' priorities and objectives for the coming year.

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On the face to face communications question, contact is maintained through briefing meetings, consultative groups, safety meetings

and performance appraisal sessions in various combinations in

various companies.

Tubemakers is obviously a good example of a firm taking such

objectives as better communications very seriously and that is

certainly one of the reasons why I am pleased to welcome this firm to Tamworth.

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