Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 28 June 1904

Mr WILKINSON (Moreton) - I listened with some attention to the remarks of the honorable members for Fremantle and East Sydney, and I would like to present to the Committee this view, that it might be possible if this addition were made for a union still to be a close corporation. I should like to know how the clause would be interpreted in regard, to matters of apprenticeship. We know that there are unions now whose policy it is to limit the number of apprentices. We know too that the seven years' apprenticeship which was required years ago to learn a trade is no longer required. The term was reduced to five years, and it is being gradually shortened. With the advance of education, and the provision of technical schools, a much shorter apprenticeship is required to learn a trade than was required in the days when, perhaps, we were learning our own.


Mr WILKINSON - The division of labour, added to the introduction of laboursaving machinery, has had an effect on nearly all the trades. There is now scarcely a tradesman who is skilled in all the branches of his trade. At one time a fitter had to start at the casting-shop and finish at fine work. To-day his work is largely clone by machinery ; practically he is part of the machinery.

Mr Carpenter - The honorable member is mixing up fitters and turners.

Mr WILKINSON - No; because the same thing is going on in connexion with wood-work machinery.

Mr Carpenter - There are distinct branches of the trade.

Mr WILKINSON - There are to-day, but there were not twenty-five to thirty years ago, and at the time when some of these unions were established. I wish to make it clear that there is a number of skilled tradesmen to-day who have never served an apprenticeship. In printing offices, for instance, there are compositors who have never served an apprenticeship. I wish to know whether these men, before they were allowed to join the Typographical Association, would be asked to show that they had passed an apprenticeship; because, if so, it would keep out of the union a large number of really qualified and skilful men - some of the best tradesmen.

Mr Mauger - Surely the Court will be fully aware that the practice is now virtually abolished.

Mr WILKINSON - I do not know that it is wise to leave the matter in too vague a form. Generally, a man 'who is able to learn a trade under all sorts of difficulties and disadvantages, is really the most skilled tradesman. A boy who spent five or six years in a composing room and had everything shown him has a considerable advantage over a boy who had to go into a little printing office in the country, and thence graduate to the office of the Argus, or the Herald, or the' Daily Telegraph, and who can hold his own with the best men without having signed indentures. I am rather afraid that the addition to the clause may put a bar in the way of these men getting the benefit of the rights which the Bill confers on them. I do not know that that will be the case ; but T thought it was my duty to give expression to the doubts which occurred to me after listening to the remarks of the honorable members for East Sydney and Fremantle.

Suggest corrections