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Wednesday, 10 September 1913

Senator McCOLL (VICTORIA) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) - The reply to the honorable senator's question came to hand to-day. It is as follows: -

Postmaster-General's Department,

Melbourne, 9th September, 1913.

With reference to the extract from Hansard of the 28th ultimo, which you forwarded to this office on the 2nd instant, respecting an inquiry made in Parliament by Senator Maughan (Queensland) in regard to a statement that the wages of certain line repairers in Queensland had been reduced from gs. per day to 8s. 6d. per day, I am to inform you that in August, 1912, approval was given by the PostmasterGeneral for a minimum wage of 9s. per day to be paid to the men employed in undergrounding telephone wires in Brisbane, but owing to a misunderstanding on the part of officers of the Accounts Branch in Brisbane, the increase was erroneously applied to temporary linemen in Brisbane, who were entitled to a minimum wage of 8s. per day.

2.   As it was considered that payment at the increased rate of 9s. per day to temporary linemen was not justified, and could not be continued indefinitely, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral was instructed, in July last, to terminate the services of such employes upon completion of the work on which they were then engaged, and to arrange all exempt linemen engaged subsequently for line works to be paid at the rate (8s. 6d. per dav, approximately), provided for under the General Division grading, which came into force on the 1st March last.

3.   The matter was, however, given further consideration, and the Postmaster-General subsequently directed that the men employed on line work in Queensland, who had been paid in error at the rate of 9s. per day, were to be continued at that rate until the linemen's case is dealt with by the Arbitration Court, or until further instructions are given in this connexion. The Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, was informed accordingly on . the 15th ultimo. (Sgd.) Justinian Oxenham,


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