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Thursday, 21 June 1906

Senator PEARCE - I cannot say, but they were when the declarations were made.

Senator Lt Col Gould - They did not give evidence before the Royal Commission ?

Senator PEARCE - No. One declaration reads as follows : -

I, Horace Reginald Herington, of Palacestreet, Petersham, in the State of New South Wales, do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that -

1.   I was working at the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Limited while Mr. Newman was foreman, and also in Mr. Laurence's time.

2.   Every evening that we knocked off, from June to September, the females' returns were brought and mixed in with the wrap-leaf which the men had to work next day. This continued up to September, the month in which they were making the alleged test, and while it was being made.

3.   That between the dates above mentioned the tobacco leaf given out to the female operatives was from 300 to 350 lbs. per day.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act1900.

Horace Reginald Herington.

Subscribed and declared at Sydney this tenth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and four, before me. - L. W. Fienberg, J. P.

Honorable senators will perceive the meaning of that when I quote presently the evidence which was given by James Stone before the Royal Commission. The other statutory declaration reads as follows : -

I, Richard Henry Bartlett, of Spofforth-street, Cremorne, in the State of New South Wales, Commonwealth of Australia, traveller, do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that -

1.   I was working at the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Limited, at Sydney, while Mr. Newman was foreman, and also while Mr. Laurence was foreman.

2.   Every evening that we knocked off the female operatives' " returns " were brought in and mixed in with the wrap-leaf which the male operatives had to work up the following day.

3.   At that time the leaf given out to female operatives weighed from three hundred (300) to three hundred and fifty (350) pounds per day.

And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to betrue, and by virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act 1900.

Richard Henry Bartlett.

Subscribed and declared at Sydney this nineteenth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and six, before me. - M. R. Aaron, J. P.

In order that honorable senators may see the value of these declarations, I shall now read the evidence which was given by James Stone before the Royal Commission at Sydney on the 13th January, 1906, and for which an apology was demanded.

James Stone, tobacco worker, and Secretary to the Tobacco Workers' Union, sworn and examined.

By theChairman. - Do you propose to give evidence on behalf of the Union to which you are secretary ? - Yes.

Passing over that portion of the evidence whichrefers to other questions, I come to the first mention of the matter in respect of which he was afterwards called upon for an apology. It reads as follows: -

The only deputations from the union that have waited on the firm have been since the females were brought in. One thing always thrown at the men is that the women are more economical. We have good reason to dispute that. When I met Mr. Shaw, on 29th August, 1904, he quoted to me that the girls were beating us by£3 in the hundred. I told him, if he wished it, he could' put two females alongside of me, and I would guarantee to give him a better output in the number of blocks and in the average of leaf, but he said they looked on me as an expert. I then told him that any man in the room could do it. He wrote back telling us he would run out the month of September, and that he found the females were making further advance on us, and that it was not advantageous to his company. During that month we were all supposed to be on a test, and Mr. Shaw threw out a challenge. The union accepted it, on the condition that they be allowed an arbitrator, because we knew the leaf was tampered with. The boys at the bin said that when the men knocked off at half-past 3 it was disgraceful to see what was done with the leaf. After that members of the union used to stay behind, and they caught the foreman bringing the females' returns and mixing them in with the leaf, so that when they came next morning to start it would be taken as an average. No test was made. Everything went on the same till November last year, when we had occasion to approach Mr. Weeks, and I consider it unjust on his part to make such a demand on account of the leaf they had to work. They commenced to weigh out the leaf not up to the standard. Mr. Laurence, assistant manager, told the men if they did not average 10 lbs. work out of every pound of leaf he would discharge them. Against that the union protested, and Mr. Laurence called the men up and cautioned them. They showed the foreman the class of leaf they had to work, and that it would be impossible to get the required number from it. The union met the manager, Mr. Weeks, in November, and explained the stand taken up. He said the females were averaging 10 lbs. out of every pound of leaf, which we disputed, as we received the same as they did. He said it came out of the same hogshead, but we told him that every hogshead did not run alike. We also had to speak about the making of the flake. I am sorry to have to say so, but the work has to be taken to the foreman to be passed, and if it is returned the employe has to forego his day's work. The flake was that bad that I could not make a decent job of it. We wrote to Mr. Shaw, asking him to receive a deputation on the subject, and although he replied that we had made certain charges against Mr. Weeks and Mr. Laurence - the union wrote telling him they could prove them and could produce documents - but he would not listen to us unless there was a report posted up in the factory. We told him it could not be done till the deputation took their report back to the union.

That is the whole of the evidence given by that witness as regards this particular part of the work. I propose now to read a letter which was sent to the witness by the company -

British- Australasian Tobacco Co. Ltd,

Sydney, 7th June, 1906.

Mr. JamesStone, Coverers Department, B.A.T. Co. Ppty. Ltd., Sydney.

Dear Sir, - You are aware that the opportunity offered you of proving the charge of dishonest practices, made in your statement before the Royal Commission, was brought to a standstill by your solicitors, Messrs. Brown and Beeby, stating in their letter of 27th February that the Union, on further reflection, declined to be parties to any inquiry into the truth or otherwise of the statements made, and suggesting that the company had recourse by instituting a prosecution against you for perjury.

The matter was allowed to stand in abeyance pending the arbitration case, when we fully expected that this charge would have been again brought up, seeing how important a bearing it had on the question of the economy in wrappers as between men and women.

You did, at the Arbitration Court, repeat the charge originally made before the Royal Commission, and this time went so far as to mention names in support of your evidence, but beyond your own bald statement no witness was called, nor evidence whatever produced.

Seeing the enormous advantage such evidence would have been to your party during the recent proceedings, it is not to be conceived that your legal advisers would have failed in producing it, and so we are forced into the belief that they also gave no credence to your statement.

Our duty, therefore, first to Mr. Lawrence, the foreman, whom we consider you have so grossly wronged, is that you shall make reparation to him in the form of an approved apology ; for had your charge been proven he would have lost his situation; and secondly, an equalapology to ourselves, whom you have endeavoured to hold up to public discredit.

At the close of the Arbitration Court proceedings we expected that you would probably tender an apology, and we have delayed writing in consequence. (Signed) W. G. Shaw,

Managing Director.

To that letter, which was placed beforethe Tobacco Workers' Union by Mr. Stone, the following reply was sent on 7th June, 1906 : -

Sir, -I have the honour, by direction of my Union, to respectfully acknowledge the receipt of your letter bearing yesterday's date. In reference to Messrs. Brown and Beeby's letter of the 27th of February last, I would with all due respect point out that the Union only acted on the advice of those members of the Royal Commission that they saw.

I respectfully ask you, sir, to look over the report of the Royal Commission, and you will find therein that I said as follows : That I had in my possession two statutory declarations, sworn to by two of your employes. They were working for the B.A.T. Co. during the foremanship of Messrs. Newman and Lawrence, and during the alleged test. Every evening, from June to September, the female returns were brought and mixed in with the wrapper leaf which the men had to work next day.

That I had been informed by two other of your employes to the same effect. I have never stated from my own knowledge that the act you complain of had been done.

As soon as it is decided what is to be done I will immediately inform you of same. (Signed) James Stone, Secretary.

On the 9th of June, the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company Limited wrote to Mr. James Stone as follows: -

Dear Sir, - We this morning have your letter of 7th inst., in reply to ours of the day previous.

Your endeavouring to explain away your position by saying you were acting under advice of certain members of the Royal Commission does not, it seems to us, have any bearing on the case, which is very simple. You, in the witness box, before the Royal Commission, made certain very gross and damaging statements against the foreman and ourselves. You had every opportunity of proving them - 1st., at the Royal Commission; 2nd., at our invitation, which you through your solicitors positively declined ; 3rd., at the recent arbitration. proceedings.

Having failed to even make an attempt at establishing your charge, one which, as we have already stated, if proved would have meant the immediate discharge of the foreman concerned, we demanded an apology, and shall be glad to hear your intentions as early as possible.

To that letter Mr. Stone made no reply; but on the 18th June he received the following letter from the British-Australasian Tobacco Company : -

Dear Sir, - Having failed to conform to our request, as again stated in our letter to you of 9th inst., and to which letter you have not even replied, there remains now no other course open to us than to inform you that your services are no longer required, and you will please accept this notice as your discharge from the factory.

Your work will be weighed off to lunch time to-day. (Signed) W. G. Shaw,

Managing Director.

That letter has upon it the stamp of the British- Australasian Tobacco Company, and the signature of the managing director. It will be noticed that in the course of this statement Mr. Stone refers to the Royal Commission, and he says that he declined to go any further with the statement, acting on the advice of the members of the Commission. The only thing of which I have any cognizance in regard to the matter is that some time after Mr. Stone had given evidence before the Commission in Sydney, he came to me in the precincts of this building, and told me that the British-Australasian Tobacco Company wanted him to make a statement in a public manner, and that they would have an inquiry made, and would- abide by the re.-ult. Hp told me, also, that his solicitor had advised bini that the company could proceed against him for perjury, if they thought he had committed perjury, and could prove it; or could proceed against the two persons who had made the statutory declarations. He asked me what I thought he ought to do under the circumstances. I told him that of course my advice was simply that of a layman, and that he had! to decide for himself ; but that, so far as I could see, if the company wanted redress, it could get it by proceeding against him for perjury, or by proceeding against the persons who made the declarations upon which he based his statement. I added that if I were in his place I should leave the company to take the course open to it.

Senator Lt Col NEILD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Gould. - Were the names of the persons who made the statutory declarations given?

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