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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1212

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the agreement between the

Waterside Workers Federation and the Association of Employers of Waterside Labour on wages and conditions includes a 35-hour week and an immediate increase of $8 a week in basic pay? Can the Minister say whether steps can be taken to prevent such employers doing a sell-out to excessive union demands which eventually will mean a greatly increased surcharge on freights and costs?

Senator WRIGHT (TASMANIA) (Minister for Works) - As I understand the agreement it does involve a nominal 35- hour week. After taking meal breaks into account it is actually a 31i-hour week. The agreement also involves an actual increase of $8 a week for the waterside worker's labour. The structure of legislation which has been built up for the benefit of waterside workers over the last 15 years has, in effect, erected a legislative monopoly for that group of workers. As the Minister for Labour and National Service said yesterday, this agreement is unfortunate in 2 important respects. Firstly it provides for a reduction of working time to 35 hours a week without consultation with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which should be the body to give a guide upon such important national industrial matters. Secondly, it has been made without any reference to the Waterside Council, which is a body specially set up to consult in relation to matters affecting the waterfront.

The agreement represents a massive assault upon that system. The degree to which it demands most anxious consideration can be gauged from the fact that as recently as last February the impost: which was put upon employers of waterside labour to finance idle time, long service leave, annual and sick leave, pensions and redundancy benefits was increased from the enormous amount of 65c per man-hour to $1 per man-hour. One of those items alone - idle time - accounts for an expenditure of nol: less than $8m in one year. That represents the degree to which other people on the waterfront, such as importers and exporters, are being imposed upon by these unjustified and extravagant demands.

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