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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1466

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - In order to overcome the objection of Senator James McClelland to this amendment, it is the intention of the Democratic Labor Party to suggest to the Opposition that it includes in its amendment after the word 'organisation' the words 'or eligible to be a member'. As a trade union official I have been requested on several occasions to attend a factory where a person had refused to join the union. At the employer's request I spoke to him to try to get him to join the organisation. Some people have religious reasons for not wishing to join. They become conscientious objectors. Unions adopt different techniques in trying to overcome the problem raised where an individual is genuine in his beliefs. Some people belonging to particular religious sects will not join a union at all. An employer does not wish to see this plant held up and is only too happy to have a union official talk to a chap under those circumstances if he feels that the matter is likely to disrupt his plant. The employee is not a member of an organisation at that stage but is eligible to be a member by virtue of the fact that he works in the plant. It would assist both sides of the industrial relationship if it were part of the Act that a union official could talk to an employee who was a member or who was eligible to be a member of an organisation.

The union official may meet other circumstances. For example the employee might have recently come into the industry or come back into the industry and might not have had time to join the union. If he is a new employee a question may be raised as to his margin of skill but the amendment would mean that the union official could not speak to him because he was not a member of the union at that time. He may have left the union or industry 10 years before and not have been working in the industry again sufficiently long for the shop steward to have interviewed him. These questions can often arise in industrial relationships on the very first morning of a person 's employment if he is a new hand. Invariably if he is working in the industry he is eligible to be a member of the union and if the words I have suggested were accepted by the Opposition and placed in the amendment it would cover the purposes the Opposition seeks and meet the objections raised by Senator James McClelland.

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