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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6237

Mr SPENCE (Darling) - I have no desire to detain the Committee, but as I was secretary to the Amalgamated Miners' Association, during the period referred to by the honorable member for Barrier, I wish to support the statements he has made. The honorable member for Kooyong has attempted to discredit them ; but one of the mine managers in Broken Hill - a personal friend of mine - informed me that the organized mine managers sent him a circular, containing the names of eight men to whom employment was not to be given. This treatment was not meted out, as the honorable member for Kooyong would have the Committee believe, to an undesirable class. They were decent men, and no fault could be found with their workmanship, or their character. They were simply unionists, and the cruel part of this action was that they were nob made aware that work was not to be given to them in the Broken Hill district. Their wives and families were practically starving whilst th'ey were seeking employment, and although every mine manager to whom they went said, " I have no room," not one of them told them that they were boycotted. Every organization of employers practices the boycott. In no mining district where the employers have been organized, has the boycott not been -practised. The Broken Hill mine manager to whom I have referred said that no reason was given to him for refusing to employ these men; but he dare not give them work. I have had a personal experience of the boycott. I was secretary of the Amalgamated Miners' Association for sixteen, years, but am not sorry that I was boycotted out of the mining industry. Hundreds of men are systematically boycotted. I have known a man to be boycotted, not only in his own district, but in other districts, and indeed in other States, whither he had gone in search of employment. This means, in individual cases, the grossest persecution based on personal spite. I am astonished that a representative of the employing classes should have dared to put before the Committee such a one-sided proposal as that now under consideration. We know that there is no likelihood of the workers availing themselves of the union label to exercise the boycott', but the employers, measuring other people's corn bv their own bushel, appear to consider that there is. The most systematic up-to-date boycott is that practised by the Pastoralists' Union. It is so completely organized that confidential circulars are sent out, and confidential reports are obtained. In New South Wales and Queensland the pastoralists not only boycott a man, but try to drive him out of the country. With them it is not a matter of preventing a shearer from getting work in a particular shed, or at his occupation, but preventing him from getting any employment in the Commonwealth at that occupation. A man is to be driven right out of shearing. Why ? Because he dares to stand up for his rights, or for those of his fellow-men. Some honorable members talk about what the employers do. But any one who has had experience of bushmen's work knows how employers boycott a hawker. He is not even allowed to go to the station to provide the men with goods. He is boycotted so that the men shall be compelled to get their stores and clothing from the station store - in the olden times at very exorbitant rates. The pastoralists attempt to boycott even the employment of' the cooks for whom the shearers pay. No doubt an action for conspiracy would lie against an organization for boycotting in this way, but there is great difficulty in furnishing the necessary proof. Men attempt to dodge the boycott, frequently by changing their personal appearance, but generally by changing their names. The boycott is so complete in some cases that I am astonished that the employers do not adopt the thumb-print system. It is astonishing to me that this proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong should lie upon the table for so many days without its unfairness dawning upon him. He has had ample evidence of the tendency of the class which is crying out against the union label to practise the boycott. Perhaps he has done a wise thing in asking for leave to withdraw his proposal, because, in my opinion, the common law is sufficiently strong to deal with such cases.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why does the honorable member persist in flogging a dear! horse ?

Mr SPENCE - I object to the withdrawal of the amendment, because I wish to see how many honorable members are prepared to vote for a. one-sided proposal.

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