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UNION ADVICE DISREGARDED, Tasmanian Premier's Vain Appeal
MELBOURNE, Dec. 3.— Victorian sea men decided at a special meeting today to reject the new award of the Arbitra tion Court and to refuse to work under
its conditions. Discussion at the meet ing was at times heated. The secretary of the Victorian branch of the Seamen's Union (Mr. W. J. Clarke), who is also Federal president, opposed a strike, but he was so frequently interrupted that he could not finish his speech. The man agement committee of the union warned members of the risks they were running by calling a strike. The Premier of Tas mania (Mr. Ogilvie), who was present, pleaded that Tasmania be exempted from the operation ^.of the threatened hold-up, but his request was disre garded. When a vote was taken on the resolu tion to reject the award there were no dissentients, but many men did not vote because, it is believed, they feared in timidation. The meeting decided that the crews of all ships on Melbourne articles should be instructed to give 24 hours' notice. It authorised union officials to enter into negotiations for an agreement yrith either the shipowners or the Arbitration Court. In such negotiations, the officials were instructed to press for a reduction of the working week to 48 hours and for the deletion of the clauses hi the new award to which objection has been taken. About 300 members of the Victorian branch of the Seamen's Union attended the meeting. Militants dominated the proceedings, although there were some who advised the men to adopt a more conciliatory attitude towards the new award. Mr. Ogilvie, who represented the Hobart Trades and Labour Council and the Textile Workers' Union, pleaded that Tasmania should be exempted from the operations of the hold-up. He said that the shipping services to Tasmania would be dislocated during the tourist holiday season and the result would be disastrous to Tasmania. Moreover, if consign ments of wool were not transported it would mean that 1,000 employees in the textile industry would be thrown out of work. Militants' Objections. Mr. OgiMe's appeal was not heeded. The militants objected to any concessions being made to Tasmania on the ground that it would be unfair to permit the crews of certain vessels to work under the award while other men, who were contesting it, were out of work. It was agreed that the Nan-ana should sail for Tasmania as usual this afternoon be cause the crew had insufficient time to give the statutory 24 hours' notice. When the vessel returns to Melbourne it will be .tied up. The crew of the Taroona is expected to leave when the vessel ar rives tomorrow. The management committee of the union strongly opposed a strike. The committee emphasised the dangers which would arise — non-unionists might be engaged, as the Patrick and Holyman Lines had already done, and more per mits might be issued to overseas ships to
carry passengers between Australian ports. . The committee said that there was a danger that the licensing system under the Transport Workers' Act would be extended to seamen and men would be refused employment on ships for, minor offences. Speakers who favoured a strike said that although the new award provided lor a nominal increase of £1/5/ a month for chief ratings, new clauses covering differential rates for the removal of hatches and beams before ships unloaded would involve a loss of about £2 a month. Objection was taken also to the reduc tion of the overtime rate from 2/9 to 2/6 an hour. Several men said that they would receive the same pay for 31 days as for 28 days under the old agreement with the shipowners. Seamen were paid on a monthly basis and they asserted that they would be making a present to the shipowners of three days' pay a month If it were calculated on a weekly basis. The men claimed that they should re ceive £1/6/3 for the extra time worked. Only one ship has been held up in Melbourne to date as a result of the de cision reached by the men today. Seven ships, however, are expected to tie up In the next few days and five ships which sailed today will probably be af fected in other States. The Westralia. which is due to sail tomorrow night, will probably be involved in the dispute when she reaches Sydney, her home port. Isolation of Tasmania. The most serious aspect of the dispute In Melbourne is that the Tasmanian ser vices will cease almost immediately, Iso lating the Island, except for a service once a week by overseas' liners and the Holy man a|r service. The crew of the Hud dart, Parker collier Goulburn, which was due to sail for Newcastle on Friday, gave notice today. The men will be paid off tomorrow and the vessel laid up. The Bass Strait steamer Nairana left for Burnie and Devonport this after noon, but the crew is expected to give notice to the master tomorrow and the vessel will, in that case, be tied up when she reaches Melbourne on Thursday morning. The Taroona, the other Bass Strait vessel, will .arrive from Launces ton tomorrow morning and she may be prevented from leaving in the afternoon., Should she leave, however, she will not be involved until she returns from Launceston. A similar position exists with regard to the Holyman freighter Laranah, which is due tomor row morning and is scheduled to leave for Tasmania later in the day. The Holy man coaster Tambar is due in the morn ing and is expected to sail at noon, so she may not be tied up until the end of the week. The Melbourne S.S. Co.'s Ellaroo, the Union freighter Kalinga and the McHwraith McEacharn collier Kooliga, all due to sail later in the week, will probably be involved In the dispute tomorrow. The James Paterson collier Wear, the home port of which Is Mel bourne, will not be affected by the dis pute immediately as she has been laid up for overhaul and her crew paid off. The William McArthur (for New castle), the Mareeba (for Brisbane), the Momba (for Adelaide), the Wareatea (f or Lanceston) and the Kooyong (for New castle) all left Melbourne today. They will probably be tied up on arrival at their respective home ports. The Hud dart Parker passenger vessel Westralia is due from Fremantle tomorrow and should leave for Sydney at night. She will not take cargo for Brisbane and will most probably be tied up in Sydney on ar rival. The crew of the Patrick freighter Craigend, which Is due to leave for Syd ney and Brisbane on Friday, was signed on in Sydney and none of the men has given notice.