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Thursday, 23 June 1904

Mr KENNEDY (Moira) - Although a considerable time has been occupied in discussing this provision, its importance demands that it should receive the fullest consideration, and time has not been wasted. There are apparently widely divergent views in regard to the issue involved, but I am inclined to believe that the difference of opinion which exists is more in relation to matters of detail than to any important principle. One of the basic principles of this Bill is organization, and the strong reason why those who advocate the retention of paragraph b, as it stands!, should argue for a preference to members of an organization is that which impels me to move in the same direction. It would be absolutely impossible to make the awards of the Court effective unless there was an organization to fall back upon, and, therefore, I feel no doubt as to what attitude I should take up. During the debate many side issues have been introduced. The honorable member for Darling has said that the question of unionism and non-unionism is not involved, while others distinctly assert that trades unionism is clearly at issue. I propose to discuss the question not from that stand-point but from the point of view of industrial organization. The honorable member for Darling has said that he objects to workers being coerced into joining a union. If that is so, how much more force is given to the arguments of honorable members from this side when they brought forward their reasons why workers in an industry should not be coerced into joining a union, which may have for its object some purposes distinct from those of the Act. As regards forcing the men engaged in an industry into an organization, which is to give effect to the provisions of the Act, I am prepared to go the whole way with the Government; but I am not prepared to go the whole way with those who argue that the workers in an industry should become members of the trades union of that industry. I do not think that any honorable member is more fully aware of the injustice that may be done to workers than is the honorable member for Darling. It will be remembered that he said that it was only through the existence of unreasonable employers that a dispute ever arose. Surely, the history of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales affords to the honorable member sufficient disproof of that statement, because he must be aware that a number of disputes have been taken into that Court by industrial organizations, and that their applications have been refused. That is an evidence that a dispute has arisen in an industry, not through any fault1 of an employer, but through a desire on the part of the workers in the industry to get better conditions.

Mr Spence - They must have been 'dissatisfied with the employer.

Mr KENNEDY - Certainly ; but the Court said that the employers were not unreasonable. That is a proof that it is not always an unreasonable employer who causes a dispute. There may be other causes for its occurrence.

Mr Spence - I said that there were other causes. '

Mr Brown - But in the great majority of cases the Court has decided in favour of the workers.

Mr Spence - I was not discussing the conditions under the Arbitration Act, but the conditions under the trades unions.

Mr KENNEDY - I propose to discuss matters as they are, and I have quoted some evidence in disproof of the honorable member's statement. He also referred to a black-list. If- there is one man in Australia who should know the reason for that black-list it is the honorable member. If he will carry his mind back to the serious strike which existed throughout Australia in the early nineties, he will remember that the union which he organized and so worthily represents gave as hard a slap in the face as it was possible for any industrial organization to give to employers who assisted that union in its early infancy. Without a word of warning, the shearers in the union sheds throughout New South Wales, and practically throughout Australia, were called out. Who were hurt most injuriously by that calling out?

Mr Spence - The union never called them out.

Mr KENNEDY - Certainly it was not done with the consent of the workers in the union.

Mr Spence - Nor of the union, or any authority under the union.-

Mr KENNEDY - The fact, remains that the shearers were called out, and brought ruin, so far as they were able to do, on the employers who were supporting the union. That was the cause of the origination of that black-list.

Mr Spence - It never hurt one of them.

Mr KENNEDY - Will the honorable member contend for a moment that no injury was done to some of the largest sheds in New South Wales, that were only halfway through with their shearing when the whole of the employes were called out on practically twenty-four hours' notice, the shearing was held in suspense for six weeks, the sheep were turned adrift with their wool, and the grass seeds were just coming to maturity?

Mr Spence - There was only one week's stoppage.

Mr KENNEDY - But, in the meantime, the shearers had been scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I know sheds in Riverina which, instead of finishing their shearing early in October, practically did not finish until the end of November.

Mr Spence - That was not our fault.- it was their own.

Mr KENNEDY - It was the fault of those who ordered the men to come out, without taking their voice on the question.

Mr Spence - That was not the fault of the Shearers' Union, so do not put the blame on their shoulders.

Mr. not arguing now, nor is it necessary to argue whose fault it was. The fact remains that one of the best organized unions in Australia, as claimed by the honorable member, did the greatest possible injustice to the employers who were supporting it loyally. Sheepowners, who were shearing with " scab " or "blackleg" labour as it was termed, had their shearing completed. What was the effect of unionism on employers in that instance ? That was the cause or origin of the black-list which the honorable member decries, and which all fair-minded men must decry. But was it not a just cause for making the black-list? I contend that, unquestionably, it was.

Mr Spence - There was no calling out of the shearers in Queensland, where a black-list has been used.

Mr KENNEDY - Very strange to say, it was the employers who were shearing with " scab " or " blackleg" labour, as it was called, who got their shearing completed satisfactorily that year- Now, as regards the fear in the minds of honorable members, who are opposing this preference to unionists, as it is termed, but which I prefer to term a preference to members of an organization, surely the rules of the association, of which the honorable member for Darling is president, are sufficient warrant for the existence of that fear? Why are there two unions existing in Australia for the same industry? Is it not because of the coercive nature of the rules governing the parent organization?

Mr Spence - No.

Mr KENNEDY - The honorable member, who is president of the union, says "No." But I shall take the liberty of quoting the judgment of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales to which an application was made by the Australian Workers' Union to have the registration of the Machine Shearers' Union cancelled, and leave honorable members to judge of the facts -

The Australian Workers' Union and the Machine Shearers' and Shed Employees' Union had been registered as industrial unions of employees, the date of registration of the former being prior to that of the latter. The rules of both unions provided for the admission to membership of shearers and their assistants. The rules of the Australian Workers' Union contained provisions (inter alia) for the establishment of a fund for political purposes, and for affording financial assistance to the political candidate approved of by the union, and for preventing such candidate acting in opposition to the policy of the Labour Party ; for the infliction of a penalty upon members voting or working against such candidate ; for establishing and carrying on a newspaper in connexion with the union ; for pro- hibiting members working for shearing contractors or with machines not belonging to their employers.

Mr Hutchison - Who financed the Machine Shearers' Union?

Mr KENNEDY - That is not the question. The point I am dealing with is the existence of two unions for the same industry.

Mr Tudor - One bogus and the other not.

Mr KENNEDY - I am not dealing with that issue.

Mr Spence - But the fact is that that union was organized by the employers.

Mr KENNEDY - I am not discussing that issue just now.

Mr Hutchison - There would not have been two unions had it not been for the employers.

Mr Spence - The plea was not a genuine one.

Mr KENNEDY - I am dealing with, the application of the parent union to the Arbitration Court for the cancellation of the registration of what I should naturally imagine was a bogus union. For I cannot conceive the idea of having two unions for the same industry - more particularly such a one as the shearing industry. I wish to deal fairly with the position, and to put the facts from my point of view. I have already stated that I am impelled to support a proposal for preference to members of an organization, because I fear the efficacy of the measure, unless awards can be brought to bear upon an organization instead of upon units scattered throughout the Commonwealth. It is with a view to obtain a proposal that will meet the position from my point of view, and not to prohibit a preference, that I desire to deal with the situation. I have stated the nature of the application which was submitted to the Court. What was its finding ? -

Held by the President and Mr. Cruickshank (Mr. Smith dissenting) that an application by the Registrar for the cancellation of the registration of the Machine Shearers' and Shed Employees' Union should not, under the circumstances, be granted, the majority of the Court being of opinion that certain of the rules of the Australian Workers' Union were rightly objected to, and should not be forced upon the members of the Machine Shearers' Union.

That is the point at which I join issue with my. honorable friends on the other side. If they are prepared to accept a proposal in consonance with that which was submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and in which we are asked to clearly lay down the purposes for which an organization is constituted, and to enact that its funds shall be utilized for those purposes - that is,, for industrial conciliation or arbitration- I am with them wholeheartedly, but if the funds of the organization are to be utilized, as is proposed, then I shall be placed in the position of having to vote against a preference to members of an organization.

Mr Hughes - What position is the honorable member alluding to? Putting the funds to what use?

Mr KENNEDY - To political purposes. I shall quote a few of the rules that were objected to, which put my position very fairly.

Mr Hutchison - And which have been expunged.

Mr Hughes - Running a paper, for instance ?

Mr KENNEDY - No. I have no objection to an industrial organization - if it is financially able to do so - running a newspaper for the purposes of its party ; but I distinctly object to a man being forced into a union, and to that union attacking his political principles after he has joined.

Mr Hutchison - Does the honorable member object to an Employers' Union touching politics?

Mr KENNEDY - What I wish to do is to leave every man free to follow the trend of his own political opinions.

Mr Thomas - The ballot-box insures that.

Mr KENNEDY - I propose to quote a few of the reasons which were given by the Court for its decision in the case I have referred to. I may say I do not agree with the action of the Pastoralists1 Association in formulating a black-list, but it appears that the Australian Workers' Union, through their newspaper, followed exactly the same course, because on page 30 of the report I find this statement -

There certainly have been " black-lists," and some other aggressive features in its columns, of which one cannot approve.

Mr Spence - What is the good of a newspaper if it is not aggressive?

Mr KENNEDY - I do not object to the union establishing the Worker, but when the honorable member refers to a black-list as being objectionable, and then pursues exactly the same line of policy, he is inconsistent.

Mr Spence - He does not ; we have never done so.

Mr KENNEDY - But here is the statement of the Court to the contrary.

Mr Robinson - " Trust the Court!"

Mr KENNEDY - The Worker . came under the review of the President of the Court. This is not mythical, as far as I am concerned.

Mr Hughes - The President says -

There certainly have been "black-lists," and some other aggressive features in its columns, of which one cannot approve, and which may leave the publishers open to actions for libel.

Mr KENNEDY - Yes ; but I am not dealing with that point. I am referring te the fact that this organization, whose representative condemns a black-list, pursued exactly the same line of policy. It is purely a matter of business or policy with them. When it is done by one who differs from them it is an act to be condemned. Surely their condemnation cannot carry the same force when it is known that they pursue exactly the same line of policy ?

Mr Spence - We do not.

Mr KENNEDY - Reasons were given by the President of the Court for not cancelling the registration of the alleged bogus union. It will be found that he says on page 32 of these reports -

Dealing separately wilh rule 57, which is incorporated also in rule 63, I regard it as highly objectionable, and as contrary to public policy, and therefore legally unenforcable (see Taylor v. Taylor, 11, N.S.W. R., 323). It is as follows : - "Any member of the Australian Workers' Union voting or working against the selected labour candidate approved of by the union, shall be fined the sum of £3-"

Is that a proper thing?

Mr Hughes - No, it is not a proper thing.

Mr Spence - That rule was in force for only about a year.

Mr Wilson - That is quite enough to prove the case.

Mr KENNEDY - That was given as one reason why the second union was allowed to exist. '

Mr Hughes - However, that rule is not there now.

Mr KENNEDY - I do not know. There is a further rule to which objection was taken. Honorable members will find, at page 33 of the reports, that the President said - -

A further rule to which objection is taken is 32, which stipulates " that any person " (that is non-members as well as members) " who have scabbed since 1S91, or at any time canvassed for non-unionists, or otherwise taken an active part against this or any other union shall be disqualified from holding any office or representative position of any kind, or from nominating others for the same in connexion with the Australian Workers' Union."

Mr Hutchison - What has that to do with this Bill? Those rules will not be allowed under this Bill.

Mr KENNEDY - I dp not know. This is one of the strongest unions in Australia. Its members went into Court, claiming to be the representatives of the employe's in. the industry throughout Australia, and that they voiced the opinions of the members of the organization throughout Australia. Yet the Court allowed another organization tobe constituted for exactly the same purpose.

Mr Spence - Allowed it to continue until those rules were altered.

Mr KENNEDY - It proves my contention that it is possible to have a trades union or industrial union incorporating rules and' provisions in its constitution, which may be highly reprehensible, in the view of a largesection of the workers in a particular industry.

Mr Hughes - But-, it is proposed by the Government to insert a clause which will prevent anything like that occurring under this Bill.

Mr KENNEDY -- I shall be only toodelighted to give my support to such a. clause.

Mr Spence - There is no opposition to that.

Mr KENNEDY - The honorable member says there is no opposition to it, but it was interjected, when the honorable and learned member for Corinella was speaking, that, unless paragraph b was embodied in the Bill without any modification, the unions existing in Australia would not accept the Bill:

Mr Hughes - The honorable member who interjected was referring to the kind of modification suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and not such a modification as we propose.

Mr KENNEDY - I have not had an opportunity to study the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I am dealing particularly with that submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.

Mr Hughes - We propose to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.

Mr KENNEDY - I was not aware of that. I point out to honorable members that another rule of the union to which I refer, was objected to, and the President of the New South Wales Arbitration Court said -

It has been also submitted that rule 146 is one, which the Court should not force upon any person, as the alternative to remaining a nonindustrial unionist. It says, " No member shall accept shea.ring work under a shearing contractor. The shearers violating this rule shall be refused enrolment or renewal in contract-sheds, but may be admitted to membership on payment of £3 fine."

That was another reason, and a fourth is given in this way -

One other rule has been referred to, to which objection has been taken, and, although I do not attach so much importance to it as to the last, and do not base my objection upon it, I, yet, cannot appreciate the reason for it. It is rule 147, which prohibits, under a penalty of £3, any member from purchasing his shearing machine.

Mr Spence - He did not have any argument on that.

Mr KENNEDY - This all goes to prove that, when we are dealing with a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and it is proposed to give preference to the members of an organization, we cannot be too careful in restricting the constitution of the organization, and in making the conditions such that nothing which may be regarded as reprehensible by any fair-minded man, or which might have the effect of preventing him from earning his livelihood, shall be incorporated in the rules or the constitution of the organization.

Mr Thomas - That is accepted.

Mr KENNEDY - That is all I contend for. After all, there is not a great deal of difference between honorable members opposite and honorable members on this side ; but, judging from many of the arguments urged from the Treasury benches, it would appear as if the Government would accept nothing, but would insist that every person engaged in industrial occupation who desired to come under the purview of this Bill, after an award had been made, must perforce, in order to get work, become a member of a trades organization, no matter for what object, apart from this Bill, it is founded, If an organization is constituted as it should be, solely for the purpose of giving effect to this Bill, no fair minded man could object to it. I am prepared to go the whole way with the Government if they insist that there shall be nothing objectionable allowed in the rules or constitution of an organization. If one section of the workers in any industry has a grievance, with an employer, and, taking it to Court, secures an award which will better the conditions of all employes in the industry, I see no reason why that one section of workers should have to bear the whole of the cost involved in the action taken. There is no doubt in my mind that it ought to be a charge upon the whole of the workers in that industry. I have said that I have not studied the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella ; but, from what I have heard of it, it would appear to be open to objection, inasmuch as it would make it necessary to secure the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry. In the earlier clauses of the Bill we have laid it down that 100 members may constitute an organization having a right to submit a proposal to the Court. If people are compelled to go beyond that to find out the absolute number of workers in any particular industry, that they may be able to prove to the Court that thev have a majority of those employed in the industry behind them, their task would appear to me to be an almost impossible one. If the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is embodied in the Bill, the main objections to it. as far as I am concerned, will be met. I suggest, however, that the Go- vernment should postpone the consideration of this clause until the subsequent clauses are dealt with. We shall know exactly what our position will be then, and I can give honorable members my assurance that, if the rights of the members of organizations are so safeguarded that their funds shall be utilized solely for the purposes of this Bill, the proposal which has been made will have my support.

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