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Thursday, 5 December 1935

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [11.40].- by leave- The Government has been informed that at a conference, held to-day, of the unions likely to be affected by the seamen's strike, and presided over by the executive officers of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the following resolution was carried : -

That this conference recommends to the members of the Seamen's Union that they return to work, and that an immediate application be made to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for a variation of the present award in an effort to rectify anomalies, and remove the objections raised by the members of the Seamen's Union to the award.

Further, the emergency committee of the Australasian Council of Trades Unions endeavour to obtain the consent of the shipowners to facilitate an application to the Court and/or approach the Court for an early hearing of an application for a variation of the award.

The Government has also been urged to give the officials concerned an opportunity to induce the seamen to return to work and ventilate their grievances by constitutional means,It realizes and appreciates the efforts being made by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in this matter, and welcomes its assistance. It is therefore willing to postpone its own intended action until after the week-end, during which the Attorney-General will, at the request of union leaders, confer with representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in Melbourne. At the same time it must be made clear beyond any misunderstanding that this postponement does not arise from any uncertainty in the Government's mind as to its policy or intentions ; it is conceded only in order that a reasonable opportunity may be given to the responsible leaders of unionism to co-operate effectively for the averting of what would be a complete disaster to the seamen concerned in the strike.

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