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Wednesday, 25 August 1920

Mr CHARLTON (Hunter) .- I am not quite clear that the proposed new section will not apply to any individual. The Minister contends that no individuals' can do anything in the nature of a strike, but half-a-dozen men may cease work for some good purpose and their action may be deemed to be in the nature of a strike. The majority of the organization may continue working.

Mr Groom - Those who continue working are not liable. It i.s only individuals who, acting in combination, commit the offence that are liable.

Mr CHARLTON - But it may be field that the half-dozen men who, acting in combination, cease work for some good and sufficient reason should have continued to work. Some spot in a mine may have got wet overnight, and for this reason they may be anxious to cease work. On the other hand, the manager of the mine may hold that it is the duty of the men to remain at the spot until he took means to remove the cause of the trouble. If the men do not stay there as directed, they may be held to be doing something in the nature of a strike.

Mr Groom - Not if their conduct is reasonable.

Mr CHARLTON - Who is to decide whether their conduct is reasonable or not?

Mr Groom - The Court will decide that issue.

Mr CHARLTON - From the very inception of arbitration in this country, alterations ' have been made in mines while awards Lave been in. existence and men have refused to accept them, but the Court has held that the management are perfectly entitled to make whatever alterations they feel disposed to make, and that it is the duty of the men to continue to work and appeal to the Court against the action of the management. The whole position is very difficult, and I am anxious to have this proviso added to the proposed new section, in order to make it quite clear that individuals may leave their work for private or other reasons, and be exempt from the penalty attaching to a.ny persons who, during the currency of an award, do anything in the nature of a strike. I do not know whether the Minister is right in saying that the words of my amendment are superfluous. I think the time has arrived when we should express in clear words the intention of the Legislature. The Minister is probably correct when he says that there is ample provision to meet the contingency which I have put forward, but, on the other hand, those who take advantage of the Arbitration Court complain that the new section, to which they raise no objection in any other respect, may have the effect of rendering organizations liable for the action of a few individuals.

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