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Friday, 8 December 1905

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) - After the lengthy denunciations on the part of the press of Australia, one is surprised to hear from Senator Pulsford that, these provisions will affect only a small proportion of the trade of the Commonwealth. We were told that the whole of our industries would be ruined by these provisions, whereas now we are informed that 72 per cent, of the trade will not be affected.

Senator Pulsford - The honorable senator knows that these new clauses were inserted in the Bill only this week?

Senator PEARCE - The circumstances only show what a tremendous row the press is able to kick up about nothing, when such a procedure suits the purpose of the newspaper proprietors and their supporters. Senator Clemons contends that these clauses will not improve the conditions of labour. It is manifest that if these conditions are to be improved, it must be at the expense of some class now living on the workers. If the actual producers of a certain article are to get a greater share of the results of their labour, the capitalists, or the landowning class, must get a smaller share.

Senator Mulcahy - May not a section of the labouring class gain an advantage at the expense of another section of the same class ?

Senator PEARCE - I am at present dealing with Senator Clemons' arguments. If the provisions are not going to trench on the rights of capitalists or employer class, why all this storm and noise - why all this obstruction to the legislation?

Senator Gray - Who says that this legislation is not going to trench on. the rights of the employer class?

Senator PEARCE - The press and politicians of Australia have said that this legislation will trench on the rights of that class, and they have justified obstruction on the ground that the provisions will be used as weapons to enable workmen to obtain concessions to which they are not entitled. Senator Clemons also prophesied that these provisions of the Bill will be kept in the background - that the proclamation of their coming into operation will be deferred until after next election.

Senator Clemons - I did not say that.

Senator PEARCE - If the Ministry wish to let the people know what lies have been circulated about these provisions, the best thing they can do is to bring the Bill into operation as soon as possible. If the

Bill be put into operation twelve months before the next election, the people will be inquiring as to where all the damage is of which they were told. The politicians who, I would almost say, have been abusing the privileges of Parliament, and justifying their action on the ground that the clauses must have evil results, will be left, so to speak, without a rag to cover them. The best thing that could happen for those who champion these clauses is that they should be put in. operation as soon as possible, so that the people may have experience of them before the next election. I admit that, after the lies which have been so sedulously spread, and, after the suppression of the truth regarding the clauses, there is in the country a mistaken idea as to what they are, and what they mean. Only recently" I heard a man, who is in the front rank of his profession in one of the States - I shall not give his name, because I am certain that to do so would damage him in his profession - say, in condemnation of the clauses, that they meant that every article sold in a shop would have to be branded either union or non-union.

Senator de Largie - To what profession does he belong?

Senator PEARCE - He is a lawyer. That gentleman, previous to speaking, had not had time to study the Bill, and formed his impression on what had appeared in the press - and the Sydney press at that. The ideas this gentleman expressed were no doubt perfectly correct so far as his information went.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator knows that what the gentleman he refers to stated will be the effect of the clauses.

Senator Dobson - The gentleman whom Senator Pearce criticises is not very far out in his prophecy.

Senator PEARCE - Here we find honorable senators, who ought to know better, still giving impetus to these misrepresentations. Certain honorable senators have been very solicitous for the employer who gives even fairer conditions than those desired by the unions, and have asked whether the trade union label will be denied to such philanthropists. We have no wish to refuse the label to such employers, and I am sure that both Houses would speedily pass the necessary resolution. I desire, however, to apply in another way the reasoning indulged in by Senator Clemons. There is Mr. Harper, who has made a name with

Silver Star starch, in .connexion with which there is a trade mark which actually sells that starch. To apply Senator Clemons' reasoning, it might be asked why another manufacturer, who makes an equally good starch, should not be permitted to share Mr. Harper's trade mark. Surely the arguments are analogous.

Senator Fraser - No, no.

Senator PEARCE - The workers' trade mark owes its value to the fact of there being unions, and a spirit of unionism, in Australia, Mr. Harper's trade mark is valuable because-

Senator Fraser - Because the quality of the starch is known.

Senator PEARCE - That is so; the quality is known. And the spirit and benefits of unionism are known; and the workers' mark will be valuable because people will buy the goods on which it appears.

Senator Fraser - But the goods mav be bad.

Senator PEARCE - The workers, in order to make their trade mark valuable, will do just as Mr. Harper does, namely, place a good article on the market.

Senator Playford - The article will not sell if the quality be bad.

Senator PEARCE - We have been told that these provisions will be used as a means of boycotting ; indeed, it has been said that the legislation is desired for that purpose. Strange to say, that opinion has been advanced as if trade unions were the only bodies guilty of boycotting.

Senator Millen - That does not justify the boycott.

Senator PEARCE - It does not; but I desire to show that the very class who are promoting the agitation against the union label are to-day actively using the boycott. Mr. Hoadley is the managing director of a firm, a vice-president of the Employers' Association, and Mrs. Hoadley is a vice-president of the Women's National League, of which Senator Dobson is such an ornament. Recently there was a strike amongst some of the girls in Mr. Hoadley's factory.

Senator de Largie - Is this the godly man ?

Senator PEARCE - this is the godly man, who posed before the Tariff Commission. The dispute was not with men with powerful affiliated unions at their back, able to send thousands of pounds for their assistance, but weale, unfortunate girls, with no union beyond a slender organization in a particular factory. In fighting these girls, Mr. Hoadley exercised, not only his individual influence, but the whole influence of the Employers' Federation of Australia, and used the powerful weapon of the boycott to its fullest extent.

Senator Playford - Is the honorable senator justifying the boycott ?

Senator PEARCE - I am showing that those who oppose the workers' mark provisions of the Bill use weapons which are certainly not at the disposal of the trade unionists.

Senator Millen - Even supposing that what the honorable senator says is correct, does it make the boycott right?

Senator PEARCE - When the girls were locked out, Mr. Hoadley reported the matter to the Employers' Association, who issued a circular to every Melbourne manufacturer in the same line of business.

Senator de Largie - Is that the same organization which issued protests against the proposed workers' trade marks ?

Senator O'Keefe - And: who as one of their strongest arguments, pointed out that the provisions might be used as an effective means of boycott.

Senator PEARCE - Mr. Cussen, who was quoted by Senator Dobson, and is the paid advocate of the Employers' Organization, condemned the provisions in the Bill on that ground.

Senator Fraser - That means that Mr. Cussen sells himself because he is paid.

Senator PEARCE - Yes; he sells his opinion. / Senator Millen. - Does the honorable senator mean that Mr. Cussen would give a different opinion if he were paid to do so?

Senator PEARCE - Certainly.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator surely does not mean that?

Senator PEARCE - Is that unusual in the legal profession?

Senator Millen - It is most unusual for a legal practitioner to give an opinion contrary to what he believes to be the fact.

Senator PEARCE - The letter sent out by the Employers' Federation was as follows : -

Melbourne, 9th September, 1904.

Dear Sir,

I am directed by the executive committee of this federation to notify you that at the last meeting of the executive a report was received from Messrs. Hoadley and Co., in connexion with the strike taking place in their factory.

Subsequent to this, I received a letter from Messrs. Hoadley, setting forth the -pros and cons of the whole case, in which he states - " That having found it necessary, owing to the adjustment of the inside work of our factory, we considered it necessary to dispense with one of our employes. As we did not require him to work after notice, we gave him a cheque in lieu of same. On this being notified to the other men some left at once, and others who had commenced work left it partly finished. Mr. Hoadley took the trouble to fully explain the position to the men on Friday evening, when paying them off. While they agreed that we had treated them very well, they decided to stand by the trade union. On Monday, some of the men returned to work, also some yesterday, but the majority are still out. We should like to have the co-operation of other employers in our trade, as we consider the right we are seeking is a very vital one, viz., the power to put on or dispense with the services of any of our employes, and as we do not wish to take any men from the other firms we should like to have their sympathy and assistance in not employing any of those who have left us during the present strike."

This explanation appears to me entirely satisfactory. The principle that a man should be allowed to be master in his own business is one which this federation keenly supports, and I am directed by my committee to ask you, as members of this federation, through the affiliation of the Manufacturing Confectioners' Association, to assist Messrs. Hoadley and Co., both in the direction of not taking on those men who have struck, and in such other ways as may be possible, so as to render the inconvenience they are subject to as slight as possible. My committee feel that they have no hesitation In asking you to comply with this request, as any member may be in the same position to-morrow as Messrs. Hoadley and Co. are to-day.

I am, &c,

Robert Walpole.

Mr. Walpoleis the secretary to the Employers' Federation, which sent in a petition to the Senate.

Senator Keating -* - That is the man who has announced that the banks will boycott manufacturers who use the union label.

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