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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Mr WATSON - In view of the decision of the Committee, I do not propose to persist with the series of amendments dealing with the subject of navigation. I now move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - "86a. (1) Any organization or person bound by an industrial agreement shall for any breach or non-ooservance of any terra of the agreement be liable to a penalty not exceeding such amount as is fixed by the industrial agreement ; and if no amount is so fixed, then by. a penalty not exceeding , in the case, of an organization Five hundred pounds, in the case of an employer, Two hundred and fifty pounds, and in the case of an employee Ten pounds. " (2) Such, penalties may be proceeded for and recovered in the same manner- as penalties for breach or non-observance of an order or award of the Court."

This new clause has reference to the enforcement of an industrial agreement. On going through the measure in the first instance, it seemed to the Government to be an omission that no provision had been made for the enforcement of an industrial agreement. No penalties were fixed in case of a breach of an agreement. There might be a necessity in the event of no penalties being provided in. the agreement itself to insure that it should not be broken. The proposal now made is that if a penalty is fixed in the agreement itself, . the persons breaking it shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding the amount fixed in the agreement ; but if no amount is fixed in the agreement we suggest that a penalty not exceeding in the case of an organization £500, in the case of an employer £250, and in the case of an employe £10, shall be imposed. I do not suppose that the contingency against which the amendment is desired to apply will frequently occur. It is merely a formal matter, because in nearly every instance the parties will fix penalties themselves.

Proposed new clause agreed to.

Mr WATSON - I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - " 87A. On the application of an organization the Court may order that any industrial agreement be varied so far as is necessary to bring it into conformity with any common rule declared by the Court."

There have been instances in New Zealand where the Court, in proposing to extend a common rule, has been met by an impassable wall in the form of an industrial agreement. Seeing that the Committee has surrounded the proposals with regard to the common rule by safeguards, I think that we need have no hesitation in allowing the Court to vary an industrial agreement where it finds it necessary to bring it into conformity with the common rule. Otherwise we may destroy the possibility of uniform methods being applied by the Court. That is to say, some person or set of persons, with a view to prevent the common rule being enforced upon them, may persuade or coerce their employes into signing an industrial agreement. Then the Court might find that in the interests of the public it was necessary to give a certain award. But if the Court gave that award it might find that its effect was to impose upon one section of employers conditions as to wages and hours of labour different from those existing under an industrial agreement previously arrived at. and affecting a limited number of people. I think that in the way in which we have provided that the common rule shall be governed, we are perfectly safe in giving this degree of power to the Court. It is only to insure that the Court shall not be hampered by . an industrial agreement. It gives the Court an opportunity of doing what the evidence discloses ought to be done.

Mr. REID(East Sydney). - There may be a great deal of importance in this amendment, but at this hour I do not propose to offer any opposition to it. I am sure that the Prime Minister will agree that, if, on further consideration, some objection to it arises, there should be no opposition to its recommittal.

Mr Watson - No. I will not object to that.

Mr REID - The object is a good one, but it may be a subject for further consideration later on.

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